Preparing Your Dog For An Emergency

Emergencies come in many forms and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep you and your pets safe. The best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared. Here are some tips to get you and your dog ready for an emergency:

Arrange a safe haven 

It's important to arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. Remember, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. Not all evacuation centres accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time: 

  • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities
  • Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets
  • Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets
  • Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they can take in your pet

Emergency supplies and travelling kits 

Keep an Evac-Pack and supplies handy for your pets. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is. This kit should be clearly labelled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your pack include:

  • Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)
  • 3-7 days worth of canned or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-ups
  • Pet feeding dishes
  • Extra harness and leash (harnesses are recommended for safety and security)
  • Copies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit-otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
  • Bottled water - at least 7 days worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  • A travelling crate or sturdy carrier (ideally one for each pet)
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "lost" posters)
  • Long lead and yard stake, toys and tidy bag

Evacuation Preparation

If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. If you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for a week. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of the local and state officials. To reduce stress and anxiety levels during the evacuation process follow the below steps: 

  • At first signs of a storm and other natural disasters, bring your pets inside as they can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis
  • Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible
  • Make sure all pets are wearing collars, tags and their microchip details are up to date
  • Consider your evacuation route and call ahead to make arrangements at your designated pet safe haven

If you stay at home

If emergency officials recommend, or you decide, that staying at home is the best option for you and your pet you should plan accordingly:

  • Determine well in advance which rooms are the safest and offer the most protection, and make sure they are clear of hazards such as windows, flying debris, etc
  • In the event of flooding, go to the highest location in your home or a room that has access to counters or high shelves where you and your animals can take shelter

Coping with the aftermath 

Remember that this is a very stressful time and pets can sometimes suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Symptoms of this include:

  • Hyper vigilance - always on the lookout for danger even though the danger has passed
  • Over reacting or being easily spooked
  • Hiding, displaying avoidance, being over dependent or clingy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of interest in activities that would usually be enjoyable

How to help your dog overcome a stressful or traumatic experience

There are simple ways to help your canine friend overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - put your pet on the road to recovery with these helpful tips:

  • Keep them in a routine, like going for a daily walk or keeping meals at the regular times
  • Provide a quiet and calm environment where your dog feels safe and is able to retreat to, like a small den (e.g. crate covered with a blanket)
  • Don't overcompensate by 'babying' your pet and treat them as you usually would
  • Engage in activities that your pet enjoys (a game of catch or a favourite chew toy)
  • If you are worried about the mental health of your dog, consult your local vet or animal behaviourist 


About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre

PetCare Advice Centre The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.