Ask the Vet: Disaster Preparedness by Kristel Weaver, DVM, MPVM

What would you do with your pets in the event of a disaster?  This month’s article discusses preparing for an emergency.  If you don’t have a plan for yourself and your family, this is a good time to take care of that too!

How can I prepare to take care of my pets in an emergency?

  • Gather supplies into a portable kit.  Include items that your pets need on a daily basis or would need if they had to evacuate your house and live somewhere else.  In addition to food and water for a week, add a bowl, can opener, leash, carrier, health record/vaccine history and any medications that your pet may be taking.  If you have a cat include some disposable cat litter trays and cat litter, as well as trash bags for clean up.  Be sure to change out dry pet food every 2 months.  Canned food lasts much longer (but check expiration dates).

  • Have a plan and test it out.  Think about how you would evacuate your house and where you would go.  Research where you can stay with your pet as not all evacuation shelters accept pets.  Make a list of the contact information for friends, family, or pet-sitters that might take care of your pets.  Also research local boarding kennels.  Have a practice evacuation drill with your family and pets.

  • Keep identification information current.  Make sure your phone number is correct on each pet’s tag and that the contact information on their microchips is up to date.  Have your pet microchipped if he or she is not already.

  • Prepare a pet first aid kit.  Include bandage material, an antibiotic cream, Benadryl (ask your vet for the appropriate dose for your pet), scissors and tweezers. You can see a list of item for starting your own pet first aid kit here.

  • Place a pet alert decal near your front door.  You can get one of these for free from the ASPCA or buy them from vendors online.

  • Carry current photos of your pets with you, in case you need to make a lost pet poster.

  • Know where to search for lost animals.  If your pet is lost and running on the streets they could end up in the local animal shelter, humane society, or SPCA.  This is also why current ID tags and a microchip are so important. Have a list of local animal shelters and their phone numbers with your emergency kit.

Having a plan and being prepared is your best defense in case of an emergency or natural disaster. Hopefully, you will never have to implement your plan but knowing you are prepared will give you peace of mind. I hope this article inspires you to plan and prepare for your family - including the four-legged members!

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master’s of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM).  She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007.  She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their two children.

Tags: ask the vet, disaster preparedness, Dr. Weaver, emergency, first aid, pet care

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