Emergencies can come in a variety of ways, whether it is by a force of nature, or a personal event. But however they come, emergencies ultimately touch every family. Therefore, my family and I have always felt it prudent and wise to have an emergency plan so that we are better able to handle the situation whenever it should arise. Since my dogs and cats have always been important family members, our plan includes them, along with their own emergency kit. No matter what, our pets are coming with us. I figure that if it is not safe enough for my family to stay, it certainly is not going to be safe enough for my pets. In an emergency, minds will be racing and it will be nearly impossible to think of everything you might need. So a well developed list of “must have” pet items is a good idea. I have these items packed inside of a waterproof plastic tote and labeled as “Pet Emergency Kit”. All the family members know where it is, and I periodically check the kit to make sure it has not been cannibalized since the last time I looked through it. Below are the items I keep ready.
1. Sturdy carriers or crates for transport. The first purchase I made was a plastic dog crate and cat crate for each pet. This is the best way to ensure your pets will be transported safely and securely, and unable to escape from the vehicle. When there is a crisis, your pets will sense any tension or concern from the family and this will cause them to become nervous or anxious. If pets are not confined to a carrier there is a risk that in their nervous state, they could run from the car. A plastic pet crate is the best solution if you are looking for durability and maximum safety. Plastic crates are also stack-able in the vehicle allowing you to optimize space. As a note, make sure you secure the crate that is in the top position. When purchasing your crate you want to make sure it is large enough to allow the dog or cat to sit or stand and still have about 2-3″ of head room. It should also be large enough to allow your pet to turn around and lie down.
2. Blanket or bedding for each crate. I have placed a blanket in every crate. If time permits, you can place your pet’s favorite blanket inside of the crate. Your pet needs to be comfortable in the crate in order to reduce stress. For an emergency kit I have chosen a blanket, since blankets can also be use for providing warmth.
3. Pet food. I place a week’s worth of dry pet food in the kit. Canned food can be used if that is your pet’s preference. I prefer dry pet food since it is easy to open and store. If you choose to use the can food, don’t forget to pack a manual can opener. I suggest you rotate the food about once every 8-12 weeks.
4. Water for your pet. I pack a one week supply of water for each pet. Under normal temperature conditions, I plan about one ounce of water per one pound of body weight per day. So if you have a 10 lb pet you should pack 16 oz of water per day. Of course, if it is hot, consumption would be greater. I also pack an extra gallon of water as a cushion for consumption.
5. Food and water bowls. Enough for all your pets.
6. Pet Medications. If your pet is taking medication, I suggest packing a 10 day to 2 week supply. If you are in an emergency situation, it may be difficult to obtain their medication so packing more than a week’s worth is recommended. Remember to rotate the medication, just like the food, so it does not spoil.
7. Sturdy leashes and extra collars or harnesses.
8. ID Tags. My pets wear ID tags and I strongly recommend them. If you should become separated from your pet the ID tag will play a critical role in reuniting the two of you.
9. Litter box and enough litter for a week.
10. Sanitation. I pack a large box of plastic garbage bags. These have multiple purposes, but one will be to collect all of your pet’s waste. I also pack a large bottle of hand sanitizer, liquid soap and disinfectant.
11. Toys and treats. Being placed in unfamiliar surroundings will cause your pets to be anxious. Toys and some of their favorite treats will help to calm their nerves.
12. Basic First Aid Kit. I pack a basic first aid kit for my pets. It includes a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, anti-bacterial ointment, iodine, gauze, stick to itself wrap, first aid waterproof adhesive tape and liquid bandage. Your vet would be able to provide you with a complete list of first aid items.
13. Pet Photos. If the unthinkable happens, and you become separated from your pet, the photos could be used for Lost Posters and can help to prove ownership.
We all hope that we are never faced with a situation that would cause us to have to evacuate our home. However, I would rather plan for the worse and hope for the best, than be caught off-guard in a serious situation in which our treasured pets may suffer. With preparations, all family members, including your pets will stay happy and healthy.