“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin
Truer words were never spoken, especially about preparing for natural disasters and other emergencies. Disaster can strike at any time, whether it’s a tornado, severe thunderstorm, house fire, car accident, or other health-related event, so ensure the safety of your entire family, including the furry members, with a well-rehearsed disaster plan.
Creating a pet emergency kit
An emergency kit for your pet should include the following:
- Five-day supply of food, water, and medications — Be sure to swap out pet supplies every three months to avoid expiration. Consider bagged dry food, or pack a manual can opener. Don’t forget to add food and water dishes, litter and disposable litter boxes for cats, and waste bags for dogs.
- Leash, collar, harness, and crate or carrier — Keep your pet safe and secure with a backup leash and collar or harness. Consider purchasing a collapsible dog crate for easy transportation. Pack a spare bed and blankets to create a cozy space for your pet in stressful times.
- Vaccination records — Many emergency shelters do not accept pets, so you may need to find a boarding facility or veterinary clinic to house your pet. Boarding facilities often require that your pet’s vaccinations are current, so keep your pet up-to-date and a paper or electronic copy of her vaccination records on hand.
- Updated contact information — Microchipping your pet is strongly recommended, because that’s the only permanent form of identification that cannot be removed or lost. Always update your contact information on your pet’s ID tags and with the microchip company to ensure you are easily reached in an emergency.
- Current color pictures — If your pet goes missing, you will need a current color picture to create flyers and postings to help you reunite with your four-legged companion. Many pets look similar, and slight differences in markings are critical for identifying the correct pet. Include yourself in the picture, which can then also serve as proof of ownership.
- First-aid kit — People and pet first-aid kits contain many of the same supplies necessary for medical care, with a few additions for pets:
- Muzzle for pets in pain
- Latex gloves
- Gauze pads
- Cotton swabs and rolls
- Self-adhesive cohesive elastic
- Waterproof tape
- Antiseptic spray or wipes
- Antibacterial cream
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Splints and tongue depressors
- Razor and blunt-tipped scissors
- Tissue glue
Be fully prepared for any emergency by keeping all your pet’s supplies together in waterproof containers, and making sure the entire family knows the location. Keep in mind that training is helpful in keeping pets and family members calm in an emergency, so practice evacuation plans, including loading pets into carriers and crates. Proper planning reduces the entire family’s anxiety in a stressful situation.
Providing first aid to your pet
If your pet is injured during a disaster, administering first aid is critical to stabilize her until you reach the urgent care center. Several common situations requiring first aid include:
- Fractures, which can be painful and may prevent your pet from walking: Muzzle your pet before picking her up and consider placing her on a board or layers of blankets to help alleviate direct pressure rather than putting her in your arms. Before you splint or bandage her injury, keep in mind that most homemade splints can cause more harm than good, especially if you are unsure of the extent of your pet’s injury.
- Bleeding can occur if your pet is injured when she is struck by a vehicle, fights with another animal, or is lacerated. Again, these injuries are often painful, so muzzle your pet before examining her wound. Apply constant, direct pressure with a thick gauze pad for at least three minutes to allow a blood clot to form. If the bleeding is severe, apply a tourniquet using gauze or an elastic bandage around the injured limb. Keep constant pressure on the wound with a bandage, but loosen the tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes to avoid complete loss of circulation.
- Burns caused by chemicals or fire are painful, so muzzle your pet before treatment. For chemical burns, flush the area with large quantities of fresh water. For burns caused by fire, apply an ice-water compress to the area.
First aid is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it is vital to stabilize your pet during an emergency, which may save her life until she can be treated at a veterinary hospital. With two conveniently located urgent care centers, we are available around the clock to provide aid to your furry friend. Give us a call at any time if a disaster befalls your pet.