Safeguard Your Pet’s Health


To minimize ill health effects of a disaster, make sure that:

Your household pet’s vaccinations are current. Most vaccinations are repeated yearly. Rabies is repeated every 3 years in most species, but may be required yearly (depending on the type of vaccine and State requirements).

Keep copies of your pet’s current vaccinations, health, and ownership records in your disaster kit. When the disaster has passed:

  • Check your pets for injury and exposure to chemicals. If you have any concerns, contact a veterinarian.
  • In new surroundings, do not remove your pet from its crate until you are in a closed room where it is calm.
  • Do not go out until the environment is safe for you and your animals .
  • Give your pet small amounts of food several times throughout the day and slowly increase the volume over the next few days.
  • Let your animals have plenty of uninterrupted sleep. Give them their favorite toys, and encourage play. This will help the animal recover from the stress and trauma.
  • Avoid unfamiliar activities with your pet, such as bathing, excessive exercise, or diet changes.
  • If your pet requires regular medications, keep a current copy of the prescription or extra supplies in your disaster preparedness kit.

Recovery: Lost Household Pets

If you and your animals are separated, pay daily visits to local shelters, animal control facilities, veterinary offices, and kennels. A phone call is often not as effective as a visit. You can also post photos of your lost animals.

If your pet has tattoos, a microchip, or other permanent identification, this will increase the chances of finding it. Be aware that collars and tags are sometimes lost.

If you find a stray animal, take it to a shelter or other facility set up for lost and found animals. Place an advertisement in the local newspaper and online to inform the owner where the animal was taken.

Psychological Healingimages-3

We consider our household pets as beloved friends, companions, or family members. The loss of a pet is similar to the intense pain that accompanies the loss of a friend. Some guidelines for coping with the loss of a pet include:

  • Sharing your experiences with friends and family. Talking about your experiences will help you deal with them and offers great stress relief.
  • Considering seeking professional counseling, as recovery is aided when guided by professionals experienced in dealing with disasters.

What You Can Do To Help

You can assist your community in developing and improving community disaster plans for the care of animals and their owners by doing the following.

  • Find out who your emergency manager and animal industry representatives are.
  • Determine how these groups perceive hazards in your community.
  • Review with the emergency manager and animal-care groups in your community the most important areas of need to provide care for animals and their owners in disasters.
  • Determine where you might fit in and be able to help your community as a whole.

Working with local emergency managers before a disaster strikes can help all animal owners during a disaster.

Pet Preparedness Self-Assessment

Instructions: Complete the following self-assessment to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your preparedness planning efforts for your pets. In the event of a disaster . . .

Could you gather all your pets and put them into pet carriers quickly?

Do you have carriers for all your pets?

Would your pets have collars and ID tags with their name, your name, your telephone number, and an emergency telephone number?

If your pet escapes from the carrier and becomes lost, could you provide a photograph?

Do you know where you can go with your pets in the event of an emergency evacuation?

Do you know of any animal-friendly motels nearby?

Do you know where your local emergency animal shelter is located?

Do you have your veterinarian’s telephone number on your list of emergency numbers in case your pet becomes ill?

Do you have a contingency plan to evacuate your pets if something happens when you are at work?

Where is your pet’s disaster evacuation emergency “go kit”?