Pet Disaster Preparedness

Are you prepared to get your pets safely through a disaster?

A tornado strikes your town. A hurricane rushes through your city. A flood destroys your home. You’ve made it through safely, but what about your pets?

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General Dogs Cats Horses Birds Reptiles & Amphibians

Make sure your pets are protected when disaster strikes. Download our 5 Animal Disaster Preparedness Essentials checklist (PDF): [English]  [Español]

Get more details on emergency planning for specific types of disasters:

Planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your pets safe if disaster strikes.

A pet should never be left behind to fend for themselves. If it's not safe for you, remember it is not safe for your pets.

Animals left behind during natural disasters can become injured, fall ill, starve, drown from flooding or die. They have even less ability than people to escape dangerous conditions, especially when they are left in cages, in a closed-up house, or tied up.  Also, if you leave your pets behind it will be very stressful for you and them. You may not be able to get back to your home to feed, check on, or even rescue your animals--because conditions are dangerous. Trying to get back to your home to do this could put you in danger, and tie up the resources of first responders who may then need to rescue you. Leaving your pets behind can hamper human evacuation and rescue efforts - where every minute can be critical.

To be ready for a disaster, it’s most important to
1) be able to leave with your pets--by having enough carriers for everyone, and
2) have a plan on where to go.
Specifically, we suggest the following when planning for an emergency with your pet:


Follow these tips to make an emergency plan for your pets:

  1. Microchip your pets
    Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date, and include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area.
  2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs
    Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is especially important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.
  3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay
    Search in advance for out-of-area pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, or make a housing exchange agreement with an out-of-area friend or relative. Visit RedRover.org/caregiver for an Emergency Pet Caregiving Agreement form. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate!
  4. Search for pet-friendly accommodations at:
  5. Use the buddy system
    Exchange pet information, evacuation plans and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends. If you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you. Make sure your buddy is comfortable handling your pets.
  6. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal
    Stock up on the items you may need during a disaster now so you do not get caught unprepared. Below are basic items you should include in your pets' disaster kits. Store your disaster kit supplies in an easy-to-grab container.
    • One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
    • One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
    • Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
    • Vaccination records. Keep copies of your records on your mobile phone and in the cloud so that you an access them easily.
    • Photographs. Keep photos of you with your pets to prove ownership if you become separated from them - or to make "lost pet" fliers. Store photos in your wallet and on your cell phone and somewhere you can access electronically (send the pictures to yourself) on the cloud via Dropbox or some other app.
    • Pet first aid kit 
    • Temporary ID tags. If you've evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
    • Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.

    Get more details on emergency planning for specific species:

  7. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area
    If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Pets may become injured or ill during the disaster, so make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan that includes setting up in an alternate, emergency facility.
  8. Plan for temporary confinement
    Physical structures, like walls, fences and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animal safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate or kennel.

    Often, when animals are evacuated to unfamiliar locations, their stress and fear can lead to illness injury. Read more tips for ensuring your pets' safety during an evacuation.
  9. Comfort your animals
    Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed following a disaster or while evacuated, and you may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Some animals, especially cats, may be too scared to be comforted. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.
  10. Know where to search for lost animals When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep handy the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area.
  11. Get children involved in disaster preparedness plans 
    The book Ready or Not, Here it Comes! by RedRover Responders Team Leader, Howard Edelstein, discusses how to prepare for all types of disasters to safeguard families and the animals in their care.

If a disaster hit your town, would you be prepared to care for your pet? Assemble your kit, then join our "We're Ready" campaign: Post the "We're Ready" sign on your Facebook page to show everyone that you and your pet(s) are evacuation-ready. Are you ready? You can also download and print the "We're Ready" sign and send us a close-up photo on Facebook or to info@redrover.org of you and your pet(s) with the sign.

The following items are recommended for inclusion in a disaster kit specifically for dogs. Prepare one disaster supply kit for each dog in your household.

Food and Water:

  • A one-week supply of the food your dog is accustomed to eating. Store food in an airtight, waterproof container and rotate every three months to ensure freshness. If your dog eats canned food, buy cans small enough for one feeding since you may not be able to refrigerate leftovers. Include a can opener or buy pop-top cans.
  • A one-week supply  of water, stored in a cool, dark location. Rotate occassionally to ensure freshness. If tap water is not suitable for humans to drink during a disaster, it is also not suitable for animals to drink.
  • Bowls for food and water. Collapsible bowls are easy to store and save space.

Cleaning and Sanitation:

  • Pooper scooper, plastic bags or other means of disposing of your dog's waste.
  • Liquid soap for washing food and water bowls, paper towels and disinfectant for cleaning crates and carriers.

Housing and Transportation:

  • A plastic airline crate or wire collapsible crate is helpful during an evacuation and afterward, especially if you will be staying in a hotel that requires pets to be confined while you are out.
  • The crate should be large enough for your dog to lie down comfortably and allow room for a food and water dish.
  • An extra leash, preferably at least six feet long.

Identification:

  • Temporary identification tag that you can write your temporary location on in case your dog is separated from you.
  • Current pictures of your dog in case he or she gets lost and you need to create posters.
  • Pictures of you with your dog to prove owership if you are separated.

Health and Safety:

  • A two-week supply of any medications your dog is taking.
  • Medical records, including vaccination records.
  • First aid kit:
    • first aid book for dogs
    • conforming bandage (3" x 5")
    • absorbent gauze pads (4" x 4")
    • absorbent gauze roll (3" x 1 yard)
    • cotton tipped applicators (1 small box)
    • antiseptic wipes (1 package)
    • emollient cream (1 container)
    • tweezers and scissors
    • instant cold pack
    • latex disposable gloves (several pairs)
    • proper fitting muzzle

The following items are recommended for inclusion in a disaster kit specifically for cats. Prepare one kit for each cat in your household.

Food and Water:

  • A one-week supply of the food your cat is accustomed to eating. Store food in an airtight, waterproof container and rotate every three months to ensure freshness.
  • If your cat eats canned food, buy cans small enough for one feeding since you may not be able to refrigerate leftovers. Include a can opener or buy pop-top cans.
  • A one-week supply of water, stored in a cool, dark location. Rotate occassionally to ensure freshness. If tap water is not suitable for humans to drink during a disaster, it is also not suitable for cats to drink.
  • Bowls for food and water. Collapsible bowls are easy to store and save space.

Cleaning and Sanitation:

  • A small litter box, litter scoop, one-week supply of cat litter and plastic bags for disposing of your cat's waste.
  • Liquid soap for washing food and water bowls, paper towels, and disinfectant for cleaning crates and carriers.

Housing and Transportation:

  • Harness and leash in case you have to keep your cat confined in a cage for an extended period of time and need a secure way to remove him from the cage for exercise.
  • A collapsible wire cage to transport your cat or house him at a friend's home or hotel while evacuated. The cage should be large enough to accommodate food and water dishes and a litter box.
  • Toys, if your cat likes them, for entertainment and comfort.
  • EvacSaks are foldable and easy to store.

Identification:

  • Temporary identification tag that you can write your temporary location on in case your cat is separated from you.
  • Current pictures of your cat in case he or she gets lost and you need to create posters.
  • Pictures of you with your cat to prove ownership if you are separated.

Health and Safety:

  • A two-week supply of any medication your cat is taking.
  • Medical records, including vaccination records.
  • First aid kit:
    • first aid book for cats
    • conforming bandage (3"x5")
    • absorbent gauze pads (4"x4")
    • absorbent gauze pad (3"x 1 yard)
    • Q-tips (1 box)
    • antiseptic wipes
    • emollient cream
    • tweezers and scissors
    • instant cold pack
    • latex disposable gloves (several pairs)

The following items are recommended for inclusion in a disaster kit specifically for horses. Make one kit for each horse in your care.

Food and Water:

  • One-week supply of the food or special feed your horse is used to eating. Store in an airtight, waterproof container and rotate every three months to ensure freshness
  • One-week supply of water, stored in a cool, dark location. 50-gallon barrels are good for storing water
  • If tap water is not suitable for humans to drink during a disaster, it is also not suitable for cats to drink
  • Feeding and water buckets

Cleaning and Sanitation:

  • One-week supply of dry shavings to be spread out in the horse's stall
  • Pitch fork, wheelbarrow and/or muck bucket
  • Maintaining a clean environment for horses during a disaster minimizs the threat of disease

Identification:

  • Permanent identification like microchipping, tattoos or freeze branding
  • Temporary, easily-visible identification, such as:
    • Using a livestock crayon and write your name, phone number and address on the horse
    • Using clippers to shave your name, address and phone number in the horse's coat
    • Braiding into the horse's mane an ID tag with your name, address and phone number
  • Temporary identification tag that you can write your temporary location on in case your horse is separated from you
  • Current pictures of you with your horse to prove owership if you are separated
  • Copy of the Bill of Sale or other documentation that can prove ownership

Health and Safety:

  • A two-week supply of any long-term medication your horse is taking
  • Medical records, including vaccination records. Keep your horse up-to-date on vaccinations, especially tetanus, as disasters increase the risk of getting cut
  • A copy of your horse's current Coggins certificate
  • First aid kit containing cotton and cotton rolls, disposable surgical gloves, vet wraps, duct tape, telfa pads, Betadine, instant cold packs, easy boot, diapers, Furazone, scissors, Blue Lotion and tweezers. Ask your veterinarian what else to include.

Housing and Transportation:

  • A horse trailer and a truck that can safely pull it, in case you have to evacuate. Conduct periodic safety checks of the the floor of the trailer, the trailer hitch, tires and lights.
  • Rope to tie out your horse in case you don't have access to a stable. (train your horse to tether before disaster strikes)
  • Halter and lead rope, preferably not made of nylon, which can melt in the event of a fire.
  • Pre-identified locations where you can evacuate your horses, such as equine centers, boarding stables, racetracks, and fairgrounds.

Becuase horses are so large, significant advanced planning is required to evacuate and shelter them temporarily in case of disaster. If you don't have a trailer or enough trailer space for the number of horses you have, work out ahead of time other arrangements for transporting your horse(s). Identify friends or relatives who could help, or transportation services available for hire.

It takes time to move larger animals. If disaster is imminent, allow plenty of time to get them to safety. Do not wait until the last minute. If you have a horse who is not accustomed to being in a trailer, practice loading and unloading with the horse as part of your regular routine.

Set up a "buddy system" with a fellow horse owner so you can evacuate each other's animals if one of you is out of town when disaster strikes.

The following items are recommended for inclusion in a disaster kit specifically for birds. Prepare one kit for each bird in your household.

Food and Water:

  • One-month supply of pellets/seed mix
  • Two-week supply of water
  • Eight small jars of baby food/fruit in natural juice cups
  • Supplements

Although normally a two-week supply of food is recommended, bird food is not a priority item for stores to restock after a disaster, so it is advisable to have a one-month supply on hand. Baby food is an excellent source of fruits and vegetables for birds when fresh produce is not available. However, read the label to ensure that there is not too much vitamin and mineral supplementation.

Housing and Transportation:

  • Hard-sided pet carrier with low perch inside and contact details written in permanent ink
  • Small cage with perches for safe housing
  • Favorite toys
  • Crocks for food and water
  • Newspaper for lining cage

For safety a bird should be transported in a hard-sided carrier, as cages can trap wings and legs if a bird panics during transport. However, once the destination has been reached, it is safer to transfer the bird into a secure, appropriately sized cage. Most birds when settled can chew their way out of a hard sided carrier in less than an hour!

Bringing some favorite toys can occuoy your bird and help keep him or her calm.

Some collapsible cages come with crocks and a means to attach them. If yours doesn't, heavy ceramic crocks are best as they prevent tipping but are still easy to clean.Identification:

  • Microchip
  • Leg band
  • Copy of veterinary records
  • Pictures of the bird with close ups of any distinguishing marks or features
  • Pictures of you with your bird

Most birds over 100 grams can be safely microchipped by your avian vet; this is the only permanent way to identify your bird, as leg bands can be removed.

Health and Safety:

  • Large towel
  • Spray bottle
  • Hot and cool instant packs
  • Battery- powered fan
  • Medications
  • Contact numbers for your vet, and a vet out of disaster area
  • Trash bags
  • Apple cider vinegar/Bleach for cleaning
  • Paper towels

A towel is your best friend in a disaster. You can use it for anything from restraining your bird to covering the cage.

Misting birds with water can help cool them down. Instant hot and cool packs can also be wrapped in a towel and placed in the cage to provide relief from temperature extremes. A fan attached to the cage can make a hot day more comfortable.

A month’s supply of any medications should be kept on hand.

First Aid Kit:

  • First aid book for birds
  • 4 X 4 gauze pads
  • Gauze rolls
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Triple antibiotic cream
  • Q-tips
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Instant cold/hot pack
  • Disposable gloves
  • Two rolls of vet wrap
  • Popsicle sticks for splints
  • Pedialyte - clear
  • Blunt nose scissors
  • Styptic powder
  • Cornflower to stop bleeding on wings or soft tissue
  • Hemostat for pulling broken blood feathers
  • Cotton swabs
  • Feeding syringes incase hand feeding is needed

The following items are recommended for inclusion in a disaster kit specifically for reptiles and amphibians. Prepare one kit for each one in your household. Since there are such varied needs different species of reptiles and amphibians, you should be familiar with your particular species to know which of the items listed below apply to you.

Food and Water:

  • A two-week supply of feeders/prey items if fed
  • A two-week supply of water, stored in a cool, dark location. Rotate every two months to ensure freshness. If tap water is not suitable for humans to drink during a disaster, it is also not suitable for cats to drink.
  • A two-week supply of pelleted food if fed, stored in an airtight, waterproof container and rotated every three months for freshness.
  • Food and water source for feeders
  • Baby food or fruits and vegetables stored in their own juice or in water, with a can opener if needed
  • Ice chest and cool packs to store frozen prey items
  • Calcium and/or vitamin supplementation if needed
  • Dechlorinator for water
  • Tongs for feeding
  • Water/food dishes

Baby food and canned fruits and vegetables are a great substitute when fresh produce is not available. However, avoid  those with added salt or sugar. Many reptiles and amphibians eat live or frozen/thawed prey. Consider the care and nutrition of the prey animals when making your disaster plans

Housing and Transportation:

  • Carrier or evacuation cage if your existing enclosure is too large to transport
  • Small enclosure with a secure lid for when destination is reached
  • Heat source
  • Thermometer/hygrometer
  • Supplemental lighting
  • Extension cords
  • Substrate
  • Hides
  • A hide box such as a bowl, box or flower pot that can help your herpatile feel more secure.

Most reptiles and amphibians can be transported in a small, hard-sided carrier, but snakes are normally more secure and safe in a knotted-off pillowcase. Bring your own extension cords to make use of power outlets, but prepare to provide heat without power.Identification:

  • Microchip (many larger reptiles and amphibians can be microchipped; ask your veterinarian)
  • Photos of you with pet to prove ownership if you are separated
  • Photos’ showing any distinguishing features of your pet
  • Copy of veterinary records

Health and Safety:

  • A two-week supply of any medication your pet is taking
  • First aid kit including antibiotic ointment, Betadine solution for cleansing and disinfecting, gauze for cuts and wounds, cornstarch to stop minor bleeding, tweezers and scissors and Q-tips. Ask your vet for other recommendations.
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Bleach
  • Hot and cold instant packs
  • Snake hook
  • Contact numbers for your vet and a vet out of disaster area

An appetite stimulant such as Reptaid can come in handy if your reptile or amphibian stops eating due to the stress of the emergency. Spray bottles are handy for misting the enclosure to ensure appropriate humidity. Instant hot and cold packs are great for regulating the temperature of the enclosure during a power outage.

Cleaning and Sanitation:

  • Liquid soap for washing food and water bowls, paper towels, and disinfectant for cleaning crates and carriers.
  • Rinse all dishes/enclosures well, as reptiles and amphibians are sensitive to chemicals ingested or absorbed through the skin.
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