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How To Survive An Emergency With Your Pet

Updated on March 23, 2011

Emergencies can happen in any place at any time. Emergencies may include anything from illness and injury to catastrophic storms. Just as we prepare our human families for emergencies, so should we prepare our pets.


Keep all your emergency supplies together for easy access and refresh food supply as needed. Include a supply of plastic bags for pet clean-up.


Keep an emergency supply of water and food on hand for your pets, at least a five day supply. To estimate your pets water needs, put out a large measured bowl of water in the morning and measure how much remains at bedtime. Subtract and you will have their daily consumption. Keep additional water if the weather is hot. With your food supply, keep a plastic feeding bowl and a can opener if your pet eats canned food. Add a few treats and a favorite toy.


All animals should have sturdy collars and leashes. This includes cats. Introduce your cat to a collar and leash in a kindly, matter-of-fact way. Let it sit on your lap with the collar and leash on and then play gently for a few minutes. If you do this, in an emergency, you will be able to control your cat's movements. When they are not being worn, pet collars and leases should be hung in a handy location, such as near an exit. If you have old spare collars, keep them by another exit. A piece of rope can always be used as an emergency leash.


For medium and small pets, keep a pet carrier. This is especially important for cats. Include warm bedding and for susceptible pets, coats. An old blanket is a necessary addition. Other supplies can be stored in these carriers.


Keep a supply of pet medications, copies of medical records, prescriptions, your vet's name and contact number, the name and number of an alternative care giver for your pet in case you are incapacitated, any other pertinent information and a recent photograph of your pet, in an envelope on top of your supplies.


In the event that your pet is ill or injured, you may have to transport them. If a pet is a manageable size, pick it up in your emergency blanket and place it gently in your automobile. If possible have someone sit beside the pet so it does not roll about unnecessarily. If a pet is larger, and unable or unwilling to walk, you will need help. Keep an old tarpaulin, piece of canvas, quilt, or blanket available for this purpose. Slip this under your pet and drag it gently to your auto. Get help for the final lift. If there is any chance that you pet has injured its back, you will need a stretcher.  Keep a piece of plywood of suitable strength and considerably larger than your pet, available for this purpose. Get help with the final lift. In case of a pet emergency, phone your vet immediately and follow his/her directions.

Be aware that injured, and ill animals may be confused and frightened. They may bit or scratch. You can control cats and small pets by picking them up loosely encased in a soft blanket. For larger injured dogs, you may need a muzzle. This can be made from an old stocking, a piece of rope or any similar material that is long enough to loop and tie. There are a number of excellent illustrated sites on the Internet that will teach you how to make an emergency muzzle in minutes. Learn this before you need it. Never muzzle an animal with a jaw or head injury. For these animals as well as for cats or small-jawed dogs, put some heavy padding between the dogs head and your hands and body, as you lift. You must loosen a muzzle immediately if an animal begins to vomit.


Where will your family go if an emergency forces you to leave your home? You may go to friends, relatives, motels, hotels, camp grounds or emergency shelters. Decide on this now. Never leave your pet behind! As many pet owners will put themselves in danger rather than abandon their animals, more shelters are now becoming pet-friendly. Do some investigating.


Purchase or make up a pet emergency medical kit. Your veterinarian will tell you what should be included.

Keep all your pets emergency supplies, in plastic containers, together with your own. Discuss with your family what emergencies may occur and how you will respond. Preparedness will help keep you, your family, and your pets, safe.


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