In Case of Emergency: Keeping Your Pets Safe

No one wants to think about a potential emergency but it’s so important to have a plan, not just for yourself but also for your pets. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are able to keep your family safe in the event of a disaster.


  • Think about what form of transportation you’ll take should a disaster occur. If you will be relying on public transportation find out if they allow animals on board.
  • If you plan to take a vehicle make sure that your animal, their crates and your human family members will all fit.
  • Be familiar with several routes out of town in all directions.
  • Have a back up plan in case your primary form of transportation isn’t available.

Pet Friendly Accommodations

Think about where you could stay if you had to leave your home. Keep in mind that many emergency shelters only allow service animals. The following are some good resources for boarding animals or finding pet friendly places to stay:


  • Make sure all your pets are microchipped in case you somehow get separated.
  • Keep the contact information for the microchip up to date, especially the phone number, so that you can be reached if your pet is found.
  • Periodically take your pets to get scanned so that you know if the microchip has moved around.
  • In addition to microchips make sure your pets have tags on their collars with up to date information.
  • Have pictures and a description of each of your pets in case you need to make flyers or show people what your pet looks like. Here is a flyer template you can fill out in advance.

Vet Records & Prescriptions

  • Make sure to have your pets vaccination records easily accessible, especially their rabies certificate.
  • Have copies of prescriptions, including for prescription foods.
  • Make sure to bring all pet medications with you.
  • It is also helpful to have boarding instructions ready to go in case you aren’t able to keep your pet with you. Here is a template you can fill out.


  • Teach your dog a really good recall. It’s one of the best things you can do to keep them safe, both in a disaster and during normal every day life.
  • Socialize your pet and work on building confidence. In a disaster pets may be exposed to a lot of loud sounds, unusual smells, new people and animals. The more comfortable they are with new things the less stressful the experience will be for them.
  • Mat training is an excellent skill for dogs to have especially if you find yourself waiting in lines or you need your dog to settle for an extended amount of time.
  • Leash manners will make a huge difference if you find yourself in a chaotic and stressful situation with your pet. The last thing you want in a crisis is a dog who’s pulling you all over the place. Leash manners are also important from a safety standpoint. You’re much less likely to get pulled over or have your dog get away from you if they know how to walk nicely on a leash.

Crates & Muzzles

  • The safest place for animals in a car is in a crate, especially if they are afraid and at risk for bolting from the car.
  • Emergency shelters may require that your dog be crated or muzzled. Your dog may be in close quarters with other people and animals so this is especially important for dogs who have struggled with aggression or reactivity in the past.
  • If your dog has to be boarded it will be significantly less stressful if they are already comfortable in a crate.
  • If your dog were to get injured they may need to be muzzled.

Storing Your Supplies

  • Try to keep all your supplies and documents in one place.
  • It’s helpful to keep everything in a rolling storage bin or a bag that can convert into a backpack. You may also want to keep documents in water and fire proof containers.
  • Make sure that whatever storage system you use will fit in your car along with all your animals and human family members.

First Aid Kit

In addition to a human first aid kit it’s helpful to keep a pet first aid kit on hand for emergencies. Here are a few kits you can purchase along with a list of what to put in one if you decide to make your own:

Cleaning Supplies

  • Bring paper and cloth towels to clean up accidents. Pets stomachs may get upset or in the chaos they may not have normal opportunities to go to the bathroom.
  • It’s also a good idea to also bring an enzymatic cleaner. Having a cleaner readily available will make it much easier to clean up should your pet get sick or have an accident.
  • Poop bags, litter, and disposable litter boxes are other items that should be in your pet disaster bag.


  • A flat buckle collar or martingale collar. Remember not to leave dogs in kennels with collars on unsupervised as it’s a choking risk.
  • A well fitted harness. For maximum safety I would recommend attaching to both a harness and a martingale collar so that if one fails or a dog gets out of one you have the other as a back up.
  • A 4′ or 6′ fixed leash. An emergency is not the time to use a Flexi leash. Make sure you have a sturdy fixed leash, ideally one that has a double attachment or a coupler so you can attach to both a collar and a harness. Make sure you have enough leashes for all your pets. If you have a cat consider conditioning them to a harness and leash.
  • A slip lead in case one of your collars or leashes fail.

Food & Water

  • It’s recommended that you have a two week supply of water and food for each pet.
  • Keep food in a water tight container to prevent mold.
  • If your pet eats prescription food make sure to bring a copy of the prescription with you.

Comforting Your Pet in a Crisis

  • Consider keeping some Adaptil spray or collars in with your emergency supplies. For cats you might consider packing Feliway.
  • Bring blankets or bedding that smells familiar, towels can also be a good option.
  • Make sure to have anxiety medication if that’s something your pets been prescribed.
  • If your pet has found a Thunder Shirt reassuring in the past it’s a good idea to bring it with you or keep an extra one in with your emergency supplies.
  • If possible try to bring some toys that will keep your pets entertained. It can be as simple as keeping a couple of Kongs and a jar of peanut butter in with your emergency supplies.

Grooming Supplies

Depending on your pets coat and grooming needs these supplies may or may not be necessary but it’s something to take into consideration especially if you own a breed like a poodle.

  • Grooming wipes are handy for cleaning muddy paws and giving a quick freshen up if you can’t do a full bath.
  • Brush and comb to prevent matting and tangling.
  • Deodorizing sprays are another handy way to freshen up your pet if a bath isn’t possible. Most deodorizing sprays are also conditioners. They will make brushing easier and help you prevent mats.

Resources & References

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