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Disasters and your pets: Are you ready?


Although no one likes to think about it, disasters are on the rise around the world and the risk of manmade disasters is also increasing. Making preparations before a disaster strikes in your area is the best thing you can do for yourself and your pets. Here are some steps you can take to get ready.


© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Planning is key

First, ask yourself some questions to help you see what you already have in place and what you need to do to be better more prepared:

  • Do you know how to get information before, during and in the aftermath of an emergency?
    • What local, national and international agencies should you be monitoring for up to the minute news?            
    • Is there an animal charity in your area that works with any of these agencies on disaster preparedness and response?
    • Do you have a list of emergency contacts, both official and personal that you keep handy?
      • Some disasters strike without warning, leaving you no chance to search for contact information.

Find out what resources you already have

  • What can you do to prepare your home to minimise damage from the most common types of disaster in your area?
    • If you are told to stay where you are (shelter in place) what do you need to have prepared for so that both you and your pets to can stay safely indoors?
  • Do you have somewhere to go if you need to evacuate?
    • Can your pets stay there with you?
      • If not, do you have friends or family who could take care of your pets for you?
      • What if you are at work when the disaster strikes?
        • Who can get into your house?
        • Who is familiar with your animals?
        • Do you have a plan for reuniting with your pets in this case?
    • What if you have to leave your pets behind?           
      • How will people know you have animals in your home?
      • Can your pets get to upper floors of the house in event of flooding?
        • If kept outdoors are they free to move to higher ground?


  • What supplies do you have ready for you and your pet in case of an emergency?

In most disaster situations it will be difficult to get pet food, clean water and any medications your pets’ regular medications needs, so the first step is to make a Disaster Kit or a Go Bag for your pet.,putting togetherInclude  enough supplies to get your pets through a couple of weeks is the first obvious step.


See our brochure for details of what you might want to include in your kit, as well as tips for maintaining the kit, as well as more information on preparing for disasters when you have pets.


  • What about any unusual pets such as birds, reptiles and small mammals (e.g. rabbits, mice, gerbils, etc.)?
    • These animals may not be accepted in places that take dogs and cats and may need other specialised supplies.
      • Where will you take them?
      • What supplies do you need to have do for these special pets?

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

When disaster is imminent

Heed the advice of authorities as to whether you should stay at home or evacuate, as sometimes staying in place is the safer option. If the recommendation is made to evacuate, it is best not to wait until the last minute to leave with your pets. If your home is not affected you can always go back. But if you are slow to leave, you may be forced to leave pets behind should Civil Protection services need to evacuate you.


If you are staying at home during the disaster, are you prepared to care for yourself and your pets with no access to running water or power?

In the aftermath of the disaster

It may be some time before you can return home. Do you have sufficient supplies of any of your pets’ prescription enough supplies,particularly of prescription medications, for your pet?

  • If not, can you reach your veterinarian or do you have copies of your pets’ prescriptions?
  • What about special diets or other medical needs?


Once you are home or, if you have stayed at home, once it is safe to venture out, there are other considerations for your pets’ health and safety:

  • What will you need to do to make sure the house is safe for your pet?
    • Debris, water-logged items, etc. may pose a health or safety hazard.
    • What about the garden? What dangers are there?


  • What other changes may affect your pet after a disaster?
    • Think about sights, sounds and smells in and around your home which may be very different, causing disorientation.
    • Was your pet distressed during the disaster or evacuation?
    • What can you do to help him/her readjust?