Are you and your pet prepared for an emergency?

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With winter weather coming, many of us are making preparations for severe storms or other emergencies by buying extra candles, batteries, canned goods, and other necessities. But have you given much thought to what your pet needs in case of an emergency?

The US Department of Homeland Security has developed a pet preparedness pamphlet (PDF) in partnership with the ASPCA, the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Humane Society of the United States. Here are some highlights:

Prepare an emergency supply kit that contains:

  • 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. A copy of your dogs vaccinations will also be important to have in case you need to board your dog.
  • First aid kit. Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs. 
  • Collar with ID tag, harness or leash. If your pet isn’t already microchipped and registered with a service like HomeAgain, you should consider it.
  • Crate or other pet carrier. 
  • Sanitation. Include pet litter and litter box for cats and waste bags for your dogs. 
  • 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. 
  • Familiar items. Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet. 

Make a plan:

  • Be prepared to assess the situation. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. 
  • Create a plan to get away. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if practical. If not, find a pet-friendly hotel on PetsWelcome.com, locate a boarding kennel (don’t forget those vaccination records!), or arrange ahead of time with a friend who can pet sit.
  • Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. 
  • Talk to your pet’s veterinarian about emergency planning. Discuss the types of things that you should include in your pet‘s emergency first aid kit. Get the names of vets or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter.
  • Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment. Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies including the Humane Society or SPCA, and emergency veterinary hospitals.

You may also want to consider creating a DropBox, Google Docs, or other cloud services account so you can access your pet’s records remotedly or share them with a friend. Most are free for casual use, and you’ll be able to upload photos of your pet, scans of their vaccine records, and contact information. Many of these services allow you to access your files from your iPhone or Android smartphone as well.

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