Preparing Your Pets

Preparing Your Pets

The following information was developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with:
  • American Kennel Club
  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • The Humane Society of the U.S.
You may view and download the full brochure containing this information by visiting the website.

Emergency Kit

Your pet is an important member of your household. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals.

Evacuate Plan

If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if possible. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets. Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.

Two Kits

Below is a generalized list that will help you get your pet ready for any type of disaster. Depending on the type of disaster you may need to make adjustments to your preparations. Consider two kits. In one, put everything you and your pets will need to stay where you are. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away. Plus, be sure to review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially foods and medicines, are fresh.
  1. Prepare
  2. Plan
  3. Stay Informed

Prepare - Get a Pet Emergency Supply Kit

  • Food. Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water: Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets in addition to water you need for yourself and your family.
  • Medicines and medical records. Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
  • First aid kit. Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet's emergency medical needs. Include a pet first aid reference book.
  • Collar with ID tag, harness or leash. Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet's emergency supply kit. In addition, place copies of your pet's registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and also add them to your kit. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as micro chipping, and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  • Crate or other pet carrier. If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you provided that it is practical to do so. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Sanitation. Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet's sanitation needs.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.