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Prepare to care for pets during emergency | Buckley Veterinary Hospital
Welcome back to Buckley Veterinary Hospital’s monthly pet care column.
Did you know the month of September is National Preparedness Month? We would like to use this time to make sure that you, as a pet owner, are well prepared for disasters or emergencies.
While we generally don’t have much in the way of severe disasters in our region, wildfires, earthquakes, flooding/ice storms and volcanic activity are the most prominent concerns for the Pacific Northwest. The general rule is to be prepared to go three days without food sources, water, electricity or access to stores or local services.
We’ll focus this month on preparations for your pet. For more information on what you need to supply for yourself, check out some great resources from FEMA or the American Red Cross on human survival kits.
During Hurricane Katrina, sadly, many pets were abandoned. If you end up evacuating your home, don’t leave your pets behind, as the likelihood they’ll survive or reconnect with you afterward is low (especially without a collar and microchip).
Keep in mind that if you are going to a public shelter during a disaster, animals often are not allowed inside. When in doubt, survey pet-friendly hotels in advance so you know you have a place to go to with your pets. Also, make sure you have shelter alternatives in advance – friends, loved ones, colleagues, etc., who are willing to host you and your pet in case of an evaluation or emergency.
Making an animal emergency supply preparedness kit for your pet is simple: start with a brightly colored backpack (so it can be used as a signal for help if needed). Also, in case of an emergency, you can easily find it in your closet or basement and “grab and go.”
Some must-haves to include in your animal emergency backpack include:
• A luggage tag on your backpack – that way, your name, address, email and multiple emergency contact numbers are available.
• A leash, harness, cat carrier (a pillow case or cardboard box will work in a pinch) and extra collar, appropriately labeled with pet identification tags with your contact information.
• A copy of your pet’s latest health certificate, vaccine records and medical records in a sealed, watertight plastic bag.
• A few extra doses of flea/tick preventative medication
• At least two weeks worth of your pet’s medication
• Extra plastic bags (poop bags)
• A basic first aid kit
• A small flashlight with extra batteries
• An extra plastic food bowl
• A water dispenser (so you can provide water to your dog at any time)
• A new, sealed bag of treats (that can help entice your pet to eat in times of stress)
• A few cans of dog or cat food and bottles of water: Pop-off lid canned food is great to keep in your pet emergency kit as it doesn’t require a can opener. It allows you feed your pet during a disaster. Dry kibble can go rancid after several years; alternatively, you can use an unused, unopened dry pet food bag.
• A quart-size bag full of kitty litter: Again, you never know when you have to evacuate quickly with your pet. Keeping a bag of kitty litter in your first aid kit or in your cat carrier is imperative in case you’re on the run.
• Kitty litter pan
The last few tips?
• Always pre-program your cell phone with the phone numbers to your veterinarian, your emergency veterinarian and a family member’s emergency contact information. Better yet, print this out and store these phone numbers in your plastic, waterproof bag. That way, if your cell phone dies, you still have access to this information.
• Always pre-program the address of your veterinarian’s office and emergency veterinarian’s clinic into your car’s GPS, so you can get there immediately in case of emergency.
The true goal is prevention of illness, pain and suffering; to help you, as a pet owner, provide a longer, healthier and happier life for your best friend, When in doubt, take the time to create a disaster preparedness kit for your pet. That way you can make sure your four-legged friend stays safe during an emergency or disaster also.
Thank you Pet Health Network for the content and to our readers. We welcome you back next month. As always, send questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get out there and give your pets plenty of exercise as we head into fall.