Pets & Disasters
REMEMBER TO CHECK YOUR FENCING AND GATES DURING AND AFTER A STORM!
Make arrangements for your pets as part of your household disaster planning. If you must evacuate your home, it's always best to take your pets with you. For health and space reasons, pets will not be allowed in public emergency shelters. If, as a last resort, you have to leave your pets behind, make sure you have a plan to ensure their care.
Contact your local animal shelter, humane society, veterinarian or emergency management office for information on caring for pets in an emergency.
Find out if there will be any shelters set-up to take pets in an emergency. Also, see if your veterinarian will accept your pet in an emergency.
Decide on safe locations in your house where you could leave your pet in an emergency.
- Consider easy to clean areas such as utility areas or bathrooms and rooms with access to a supply of fresh water.
- Avoid choosing rooms with hazards such as windows, hanging plants or pictures in large frames.
- In case of flooding, the location should have access to high counters that pets can escape to.
- Set up two separate locations if you have dogs and cats.
Buy a pet carrier that allows your pet to stand up and turn around inside.
Train your pet to become comfortable with the carrier. Use a variety of training methods such as feeding it in the carrier or placing a favorite toy or blanket inside.
If your pet is on medication or a special diet, find out from your veterinarian what you should do in case you have to leave it alone for several days. Try and get an extra supply of medications.
- Including an identification tag that has your name, address, and phone number.
- If your dog normally wears a chain link "choker" collar, have a leather or nylon collar available if you have to leave him alone for several days.
Keep your pet's shots current and know where the records are.
Most kennels require proof of current rabies and distemper vaccinations before accepting a pet.
Contact motels and hotels in communities outside of your area and find out if they will accept pets in an emergency.
When assembling emergency supplies for the household, include items for pets.
- Extra food (The food should be dry and relatively unappealing to prevent overheating. Store the food in sturdy containers.)
- Kitty litter
- Large capacity self-feeder and water dispenser
- Extra medications
Trained Guide Dogs
In most states, trained guide dogs for the blind, hearing impaired or handicapped will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. Check with local emergency management officials for more information.
Bring your pets inside immediately.
Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.
If you evacuate and have to leave your pet at home, prepare a safe location for it.
- Leave familiar items such as the pet's normal bedding and favorite toys.
- Leave a two or three day supply of dry food, even if it's not the pets usual food. The food should not be moistened because it turn rancid or sour. Leave the food in a sturdy container that the pet cannot overturn.
- Leave the water in a sturdy, no-spill container. If possible, open a faucet slightly and let the water drip into a big container. Large dogs may be able to obtain fresh water from a partially filled bathtub.
- Replace a chain link "choker" collar with a leather or nylon collar. Make sure the collar has tags and identification.
Separate dogs and cats.
Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally.
Keep small pets away from cats and dogs.
If you evacuate and plan to take your pets, remember to bring your pet's medical records and medicines with your emergency supplies.
Birds must eat daily to survive. In an emergency, you may have to leave your birds behind. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure that the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.
If after a disaster you have to leave town, take your pets with you. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own.
In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact.
Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area with flood areas. Downed power lines are a hazard.
The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency.
Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.
Taken from the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness website http://www.ohsep.louisiana.gov/factsheets/Pets&Disasters.htm
Don't Leave Home without It: Disaster Pet Supply Kit
In an emergency, there's no time to gather food from the kitchen, fill bottles with water, grab a first-aid kit from the closet and snatch a flashlight and a portable radio from the bedroom. You need to have these items packed and ready in one place before disaster hits.
Pack at least a three-day supply of food and water for yourself and your animals, and store it in a handy place. Choose pet foods that are easy to carry, nutritious, and ready-to-eat. In addition, pack these emergency items for your pets:
Medical supplies and first aid manual
Copies of health records
Pet food and treats
Can opener, disposable utensils
Pet food recipe book
Pet first aid kit
Pet hygiene items (brush, shampoo)
Pet carrier(s) with ID tag
Pooper scooper (dogs)
Litterbox and litter/scooper (cats)
Collar/ID, harness and lead (cats)
Your kit should contain at least a three-day supply of any medications your pet normally takes. We recommend the following items:
Pet first aid manual
Names/addresses/tel. numbers of local vet offices, including 24-hour clinics
These natural remedies are available at most health/natural food stores:
Rescue Remedy - Shock, emotional trauma
Aconite - Fear (stronger than Rescue Remedy)
Apis - Insect bites/stings
Arnica - Bruises, sore areas
Arsenicum Album - Upset stomach
Belladonna - Fever
It is very important that your pets can be identified in case you are separated from them. Make sure cats and dogs have a collar with identification tag, even if they have had a chip implant. (In an emergency, scanning devices may not be available.)
Also be sure to put an ID tag on your pet carriers. Include emergency contact numbers as well as your own.
Another good idea is to place pet emergency stickers on your windows at home, to notify emergency crews that you have pets inside that should be recused. These are available at many pet stores.
Traveling with Pets
Always place cats in a carrier when traveling, even short distances. You may want to place your dogs in carriers as well. You can give them a few drops of Rescue Remedy (a natural herbal combination that calms nerves) before you leave.
Be sure your pets are wearing their collars and ID tags and that their carriers have ID tags as well with emergency contact numbers.
If your pets will travel in a carrier, it is a good idea to have a water container inside the container with a small amount of water (to prevent spillage). Many carriers come with plastic dishes that attach to the door.
If the disaster forces you to stay home and be self sufficient, you'll need to have emergency stores of pet food and supplies.
Water: The Absolute Necessity
Stocking water reserves and learning how to purify contaminated water should be among your top priorities in preparing for an emergency. You should store at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family, including pets. Everyone's needs differ, depending upon age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate. A normally active person should drink at least two quarts of water per day. Hot environments can double that amount. You need additional water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least one gallon per person, per day and one to two quarts per animal, depending on size and type.
If your supplies begin to run low, remember: Never ration water. Minimize the amount of water your pets need by reducing their activity and keeping them cool.
How to Store Emergency Water Supplies
You can store water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass, or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances, because tiny amounts may remain in the container's pores. Plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
Before storing your water, treat it with a preservative, such as chlorine bleach, to prevent the growth of microorganisms. Use liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite and no soap. Some containers warn, "Not For Personal Use." You can disregard these warnings if the label states sodium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient and if you use only the small quantities in these instructions. Add four drops of bleach per quart of water (or two teaspoons per 10 gallons), and stir. Seal your water containers tightly, label them and store them in a cool, dark place.
Hidden Water Sources in Your Home
If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use water in your hot-water tank, in your plumbing, and in ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl), but purify it first.
Shutting Off the Water
Do you know the location of your incoming water valve? If you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, shut if off to stop contaminated water from entering your home. Be prepared to do this.
Emergency Outdoor Water Sources
If you need to seek water outside your home, you can use the following sources:
Streams, rivers, other moving water
Ponds and lakes
Be sure to purify the water before drinking. Avoid water with floating material, an odor, or dark color. Use saltwater only if you distill it first.
Food: Preparing an Emergency Stockpile
If activity is reduced, healthy pets can survive on less than their usual food intake for an extended period. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely.
Store the dry and canned foods your pet is accustomed to eating. Familiar foods are important. They are less likely to cause your pet digestive problems and can give them a feeling of security in time of stress. Also, canned foods won't require cooking, water, or special preparation. Following are recommended short-term and long-term food storage plans.
Food Storage Tips
Keep food in the driest and coolest spot in the house-a dark area if possible. Keep food covered at all times. Open food bags/boxes or cans carefully so that you can close them tightly after each use. Wrap biscuits in plastic bags and keep them in airtight containers. Inspect all food containers for signs of spoilage before use.
Short-Term Food Supplies
Even though it is unlikely an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, you should prepare a supply that will last that long. A two-week supply can relieve a great deal of inconvenience and uncertainty until services are restored.
The easiest way to develop a two-week stockpile is to increase the amount of pet foods you normally keep on your shelves. You may already have a two-week supply of food on hand. Make sure you include a manual can opener and disposable utensils.
How to Store Your Short-Term Stockpile
Keep canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is fairly cool-not above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and not below freezing. To protect bagged/boxed foods from pests and extend their shelf life, store them in tightly closed cans or metal containers.
Be sure to rotate your emergency pet food supply. Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Canned foods should be rotated at least once or twice per year. Check the pet food packages for expiration dates; use and replace them before they expire. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
Your emergency food supply should be of the highest quality possible. Inspect your reserves periodically to make sure there are no broken seals or dented containers.
Long-Term Pet Food Supplies
In the unlikely event of a military attack or some other national disaster, you may need long-term emergency pet food supplies. The best approach is to store a variety of dried and canned foods with large amounts of staples from which you can make pet food.
Pet food shelf life varies. Here is a general guideline:
Canned food = 2 years from manufacture date (some are 3 years).
Dry food = 1 year from manufacture date (except Lamb-6 mos).
Treats = 1 year from manufacture date.
For more information about your specific pet food brand, contact your local pet food retailer or the manufacturer.
For a long-term supply over three years, you can store bulk foods that you can make into pet food. Bulk quantities of grains, like wheat and corn are fairly inexpensive and have nearly unlimited shelf life. Add protein sources, such as dried meats and eggs, as well as vitamin, mineral, and protein supplements your stockpile to assure adequate nutrition. (Vitamin C can be stored almost indefinitely.) Store bags/boxes and bulk grains in sealed cans or plastic buckets.
It's a good idea to store a book with good pet food recipes, like Dr. Richard Pitcairn's Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
Shelf Life for Long-Term Food Storage
The following may be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and conditions):
Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)
Supplement Your Long-Term Stockpile
The above staples offer partial nutrition, but your pets' protein needs are higher than yours. You can supplement these ingredients with commercially packed air-dried or freeze-dried meats and other goods.
Following is an easy approach to long-term food storage:
1. Buy a supply of bulk staples.
2. Build up your stock of canned goods until you have a two-week to one-month surplus. Rotate it periodically to maintain a supply of common foods that do not require special preparation, water, or cooking.
3. From a sporting or camping equipment store, buy commercially packaged, freeze-dried or air-dried meats and other foods. Although costly, this will be your best form of stored meat, so buy accordingly.
In a crisis, it will be vital that you maintain your pet's strength. So remember:
Feed at least one well-balanced meal daily.
Make sure they get enough liquid.
Give them a vitamin/mineral supplement.
Make sure they get enough exercise.
If the Power Goes Out
If the electricity goes off, first use perishable foods from the refrigerator. Next, use foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least three days. Finally, begin to use nonperishable foods and staples.
To learn more about how to prepare for emergencies, contact your local or State Office of Emergency Management, or write:
Federal Emergency Management Agency
P.O. Box 70274
Washington D.C. 20024
Sources: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Judy Stolz, DVM