There are many emergency situations that can impact you and your dog.
Some might require you to leave your home briefly, while others might require a long-term evacuation. When a disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane, fire or flood strikes, there is little we can do to control the situation. However, we can try to prepare in advance for such things, and be ready to protect our dogs.
If a situation is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pet, either. If you need to evacuate, do not leave your dog behind. He may become trapped or escape and be exposed to life-threatening hazards, or be lost permanently. In order to transport him easily and safely, have an emergency kit ready for him.
The first thing you kit should include is a good first-aid kit. You can buy these commercially, or talk with your vet about what to include. You should have at least one week’s worth of your dog’s food, stored in a watertight container. If your dog eats canned food, include single-serving, pop-top cans if at all possible, as you might not have a place to store opened cans. If the food isn’t available in such cans, pack a can cover and/or a can opener. Rotate the food every three months, so your dog doesn’t become ill eating spoiled food. You should also take a week’s worth of water for your dog, and an additional 1-2 gallons you can use to rinse off his coat or feet should such a need arise. Replace the water supply when you rotate the food. If you don’t have the room to store that much water, consider purchasing water purification tablets and a portable water purifier, like campers and hikers use. Make sure you take along unbreakable food and water dishes, a measuring cup or scoop if your dog eats kibble, and a spoon if he eats canned food.
If your dog takes medication, you should have at least a two week supply available to take with you, as it might be difficult to contact your vet for refills. Rotate this as well, so you don’t end up on the road with expired medication. Make sure to include heartworm preventative and flea preventative as well.
Have copies of his medical records, as well as his vaccination records. The latter are extremely important, as those shelters that will take dogs often require proof of current vaccinations. You should also make sure you have recent photos of your pet, both by himself and with you, in case you need them for identification purposes, and include your dog’s microchip information. Store the records and medication in a waterproof container.
Pack liquid dish soap and disinfectant, in case you need to clean a contaminated or sick pet, as well as clean up bags. Be sure you dog has on a well-fitting collar or harness with current tags, and have back-ups, also with current tags, packed as well. Take at least a couple of leashes, too.
You should include a crate for your dog large enough for him to stand up, turn around and lay down. Foldable or soft crates take up less space than traditional hard plastic kennels. A crate can help keep your dog calm, keep him from releasing his stress on an unfamiliar environment, and provide a safe haven for him. It also can be helpful in persuading the hesitant to allow the dog to remain with you.
If you have room, take along some favorite treats and toys, and your dog’s bed. These items, while not essential, will help your dog relax and feel more comfortable in an otherwise stressful situation.
If you live in an area where weather or other conditions might require you to flee, plan ahead. Talk with friends or family members who live outside of the danger area about their willingness to take on you and your dog. If you don’t have anyone able to do so, search for hotels that will take you with your dog, or look for boarding facilities. Remember that in an emergency, both hotels and boarding establishments may fill up quickly, so make reservations as far in advance as possible. Do not depend on Red Cross, church or other community type shelters to provide lodging for you, as many such places will not allow animals.
Your dog loves you and depends on you, especially during an emergency. Take the time now to make plans that will keep him safe and secure if disaster strikes.
Karlene Turkington, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, is a lifelong animal lover who has been training dogs for over 20 years. Readers are welcomed to send their questions to: info@TrainMyK-9.com. Information provided here is a basic overview of issues. Specific health or behavioral concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian or qualified animal trainer or behaviorist.