Is Your Pet Ready for an Emergency?


Photo: Wikimedia

No one expects disaster to strike, but having a disaster plan can make all the difference — it means that, should a crisis arise (think tornados, fires, or flooding), you won’t have to think about what to do or how to do it — you’ll just put your plan into action. But take a moment to think about your plan: does it include your entire family? Four-leggers included?

If your emergency plan has never included your pet, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by Chewy, 46% of pet owners do not have an emergency plan in place for their pets. But 46% is 46% too many.

So take a minute to make sure you and your pup are prepared for a crisis with these top tips.

Assemble a doggie emergency kit. Fill a box or bag with these key articles to ensure a safe emergency:

  • Water and food to last your pup at least 3 – 5 days (don’t forget the bowls!)
  • Medication and medication records stored in waterproof containers
  • An extra leash and/or harness
  • A recent photo of your pup (no, keeping one on your phone doesn’t count. What if your phone dies and there’s nowhere to recharge?)
  • Poop bags (not glamorous, but necessary)

Practice, practice, and practice again. One of the best ways to prepare for an emergency with your pup is to practice simple commands. In the excitement of an emergency your pup should know to follow your lead. Practice “come,” “sit,” and “stay” in a variety of situations to help you execute your exit strategy smoothly. Looking for bonus points? When you’re practicing a home evacuation (which, yes, you should do), practice it with your dog too. If you have two-legged kids, make sure they get a turn to try with your dog as well.


Photo: Pet Rescue Stickers

Purchase and put up a rescue sticker. Disaster can strike at any time, even when you’re not home, which is why it’s important to have a rescue sticker posted at your front door. A rescue sticker lists the number of animals residing in a home so that emergency workers know how many pets they need to rescue. According to that same Pet360 survey, 63% of pet owners do not have these rescue stickers, so if you’re one of them, make sure you get one and post it ASAP.

ID your pup. Make sure your pooch is wearing a collar and up-to-date identification at all times. The last thing you’ll want to do in an emergency is run around the house trying to find your dog’s collar or tags before you head for safety. And you really don’t want your dog to get loose during a crisis without ID.

Know your dog’s secret hiding spot. Pets can become terrified in an emergency (just think about how frightened they can become during a simple thunderstorm!) and will often retreat to their “safe spot.” By knowing where their secret hiding spot is, you can avoid spending crucial minutes trying to find them during an evacuation.

3 thoughts on “Is Your Pet Ready for an Emergency?

  1. Cait

    I’ve looked into those pet rescue stickers, and the way emergency responders respond to them. Different fire departments have different policies, so it’s best to call your local FD and ask. Some policies state to ignore/disregard the sticker, because it could have been left up by a previous owner/renter. That puts responders at unnecessary risk, because they could be looking for a pet that isn’t there, keeping them in dangerous conditions for longer. If they come across pets, they’ll save them or create space for them to escape, but they most likely won’t spend time actively looking for them. Putting a prominent, visible date on the sticker might help.

  2. Mary

    I received a card from my vet to keep in my car or purse in case I were in an accident away from home. It has some basic info including my pets name, my address, vets name & phone number. That way someone can be notified to take care of my pet while I cannot.

  3. June

    Altho this has some great info, during a fire you and your family need to leave the home asap and not run around trying to gather up your pets. If they come when called while your at the door is great. Sadly people die while inside looking for their pets. I’m a retired firefighter and have seen it, I’ve also saved a fair amount of dogs and cats. I know this may sound terrible or cold, but it’s not meant to be. I myself have 4 dogs and not sure I could leave them behind.


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