Keep your pets safe in an emergency: 5 things to know

Posted on by Crystal Bruce, Health Communications Specialist, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

dog with a stick and a bag

Emergencies come in many forms: fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, violent storms and even terrorism. In the event of extreme weather or a disaster, would you know what to do to protect your pet?

Many pet owners are unsure of what to do if they’re faced with such a situation. In recognition of National Pet Preparedness Month, here are five steps you can take to keep your pets safe during and after an emergency:

  1. Have a plan – include what you would do if you aren’t home or cannot get to your pet when disaster strikes. You never want to leave a pet behind in an emergency because they, most likely,Pet Preparedness Infographic cannot fend for themselves or may end up getting lost. Find a local pet daycare, a friend, or pet sitter that can get to your pet if you cannot. Make plans ahead of time to evacuate to somewhere that is pet friendly, such as a pet-friendly hotel or a friend or family’s home that is out of the evacuation area.
  2. Make a kit – stock up on food and water. It is crucial that your pet has enough water in an emergency. Never allow your pet to drink tap water immediately following a storm; there could be chemicals and bacteria in tap water so give them bottled water. Also, be sure to stock up on canned food. Don’t forget a can opener, or buy enough pop-top cans to last about a week.
  3. I.C.E – No, not the frozen kind – it stands for “In Case of Emergency.” If your pet gets lost or runs away during an emergency, have information with you that will help find them, including recent photos and behavioral characteristics or traits. These can help return them safely back to you
  4. Make sure vaccinations are up to date – If your pet needs to stay at a shelter, you will need to have important documents about vaccinations or medications. Make sure their vaccinations are up to date so you don’t have any issues if you have to leave your pet in a safe place.
  5. Have a safe haven – Just like people, pets will become stressed when their safety is at risk. Whether you are waiting out a storm or evacuating to a different area, be sure to bring their favorite toys, always have a leash and collar on hand for their safety, and pack a comfortable bed or cage for proper security. If your pet is prone to anxiety, there are stress-relieving products like a dog anxiety vest or natural stress-relieving medications and sprays that can help comfort them in times of emergency. Ask your veterinarian what would be best for your pet.

Some other things to think about are:

  • Rescue Alert Sticker – Put a rescue alert sticker by your front door to let people know there are pets inside. If you are able to take your pets with you, cross out the sticker and put “evacuated” or another message to let rescue workers know that your pet is safely out of your home.
  • Let pets adjust – Don’t allow your pet to run back into your home or even your neighborhood once you and your family have returned. Your home could be disheveled and things might look different, and these changes can potentially disorient and stress your pet. Keep your pet on a leash and safely ease him/her back home. Make sure they are not eating or picking up anything that could potentially be dangerous, such as downed wires or water that might be contaminated.
  • Microchip your pet – Getting a microchip for your pet could be the difference between keeping them safe and them becoming a stray. Microchips allow veterinarians to scan lost animals to determine their identity so they can be returned home safely. Make sure your microchip is registered and up to date so if your pet gets lost, your information is accessible to anyone who finds your pet.

Resources for Pet Owners

Posted on by Crystal Bruce, Health Communications Specialist, Office of Public Health Preparedness and ResponseTags , , , ,

2 comments on “Keep your pets safe in an emergency: 5 things to know”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Never thought about a rescue alert sticker, such a good idea! I wonder if this is something most people would look for or recognize when in the situation.

    Thank you for such an informative article. My husband and I both took away several items (such as the information kit containing photos, signs, etc about our pet) if we are away from home and our pet has somehow become separated from us. Please note, however, that the article is clearly dog-centric in two places, 1. always have a leash or harness for the pet and 2. don’t allow the pet to just run back into the neighborhood or house upon return in case the environment has been disrupted. Those are great tips for dogs but #1 my cat (like most cats) will fight and run away rather than submit to a harness or leash. As to #2 , I would always carry my cat back into the house and reintroduce him to the environment gradually. Just a few suggestions….sorry, dogcentrism is rampant and unrecognized both in the pet industry and in pet advocacy circles. The topic looks and sounds funny in print and conversation. I sincerely wish it was a trivial matter but, alas, it’s not.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments posted become a part of the public domain, and users are responsible for their comments. This is a moderated site and your comments will be reviewed before they are posted. Read more about our comment policy »

Page last reviewed: September 6, 2023
Page last updated: September 6, 2023