Top Tips for Pet Preparedness

June 21, 2017

When Bodie and I had to our evacuate our home in Virginia due to Hurricane Irene, we left in an unprepared scramble. We were lucky enough to get to a safe haven but news stories remind us that this won’t necessarily be a one-off scenario… Depending on where you live in the US, natural disasters can come in the form of wildfires, flash floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, cyclones and more. Of course if you love to travel with your dog, it’s not just the threats to your home region.

One chilling statistic from Hurricane Katrina estimates 600,000 pets were either stranded or lost their lives. But here’s the good news – there are a multitude of things you can do ahead of time to help improve pet safety in an emergency and I am so grateful to *Purina Veterinarian Dr Kurt Venator for offering (via a special YouTube Live chat to support National Pet Preparedness Month) such great, lifesaving tips:

(*Purina know a thing or two about helping out pets in a crisis – in 2016 they donated 130,000 lbs of pet food to help animals affected by disaster.)

  • Make sure your dog is wearing a securely fastened, well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification in case you become separated during a natural disaster. It is ideal to also have your pet microchipped to assure he/she can be identified (and you can be contacted) via an electronic device as well.
  • If your dog is given to spooking or running off when panicked, consider a harness for an emergency situation – you will have more control over a pulling dog, not put undue stress on his/her throat and there won’t be the issue of ‘slipping the collar’ while backing up/retreating etc. You can even clip on a second, longer lead – if a dog takes off (for example jumping down from the back of a car) you have more of a chance of grabbing the long lead than the short one!
  • Dog booties can protect paws against debris like broken glass and hot ash. If you are in an area prone to flooding, it would be wise to invest in a dog lifejacket – even pups that love to swim can tire quickly without dry land to return to and catch their breath, a lifejacket will help keep them buoyant and their faces above the water line.
  • To prepare your home for natural disasters, your local veterinarian can provide waterproof Pet Alert stickers (see example below – also easy to order online, with many different designs). Place these on/by the front and back entrances of your house to alert rescuers and neighbors that there are pets inside your home.

pet alert emergency sticker with dalmatian dog

  • Create a buddy system: recruit a trusted neighbor, friend, dog-walker or pet-sitter to look out for your pet in case you are not home when a disaster strikes. (And you can offer to return the favor.) Don’t forget to let  them know where your pet’s disaster kit is stored and add this back-up person to your veterinarian’s emergency contact list of people who have authority to approve necessary emergency treatments in case you can’t be reached.

A doggie disaster kit should include these 10 essentials:

1. Bottled Water – A 7-day supply (14-day if room) at a recommended rate of consumption at 1 gallon of water for every 3 days.

2. Cans of Wet Food – A one-to-two-week supply of food that your pet usually eats is ideal. However, if you are planning ahead, make sure to replace the food according to the expiration dates.

3. Collapsible Bowls – The concertina-style silicone ones are especially handy for travel as light and easy to clean.

4. Leash and Collar – See above for harness option and don’t forget the ID tag.

5. Pet Medications – any vital medications your dog may be taking. If you want to pack any sedative to keep your dog calm in a stressful situation, do make sure you test it out on him/her prior to the emergency. You don’t want an unexpected reaction or to find your dog sluggish or incapable of moving when he/she needs to be mobile.

6. Pet Paperwork – Vaccine records/medical history, veterinary contact information, medications list and emergency contacts. Keep these in a waterproof, zip-lock bag.

7. Basic Pet First Aid Kit – Elastic wrap tape is the best bandage for dogs as it doesn’t stick on fur. You will need blunt scissors to cut it plus antibiotic cream and tweezers for wounds or splinters etc.

8. Dog Toy – Can offer comfort and a distraction in an unsettling situation.

9. Blankets – Both for warmth and to provide a comfortable surface to sleep on.

10. Photos of your Pet – Keep these handy so you can distribute pictures if your pet gets lost. You can even prep ahead with lost dog posters/flyers like this one. Again keep in a waterproof sheath.


  • Save precious minutes by researching ahead of time the possible locations where you can take your animals should you have to evacuate. These locations can include animal shelters, veterinary clinics or even pet-friendly hotels where you and your pet can find relief until the disaster passes.
  • Keep your dog’s medical records on-hand since some pet-friendly emergency relief centers require proof of vaccinations in order for your pet to stay there.
  • If you have an older or larger dog that is a) slow to move or b) unused to steps because you typically use the elevator in your building, it is a great idea to have a practice run. You don’t want to be further stressing out yourself or your pet with a new or unfamiliar experience in a tense, time-sensitive situation.
  • Add the number for the Red Cross to your phone: 202-303-4498 For further info visit their website:
  • If the emergency requires you to hole up in your home, find a room (ideally with no windows on a lower floor) where you can be secure. You can practice pet safety by being in here with your dog even when all is well with your world. Perhaps even adding a fun, new toy to help distract and entertain your dog.


IN THE CAR Dr Kurt suggests upping the contact and reassuring words. Our dogs take their emotional cue from us humans so offer them extra assurance with pats, praise, treats and, where possible, stops to stretch their legs and get some fresh air.

IN A HOTEL You may not be able to exercise your dog in the usual way if it is not safe to venture outside but you can still offer energy release and enrichment by playing fetch or tug-o-war with your dog’s favorite toy.


After the emergency, do keep a close eye on your pet and monitor their behavior. You know them so well, you’ll sense if they are reluctant to leave the house, still fearing potential danger. It is important not to force them or pull them, ease them out gradually. If you notice any new destructive behavior or excessive barking, it is best to reach out to your veterinarian for a consultation.

Safe travels (and home life) to you all!

You can also join this Facebook Live event on June 29th at 12pm CT/1pm ET and chat with Purina vets about Summer Pet Safety and learn some great tips on how to calm pets during such anxiety-inducers as travel, tornados and (Bodie’s nemesis) fireworks…

image of a French bulldog looking concerned at a window - educating people about pet safety in an emergency


FACEBOOK: @Purina  INSTAGRAM: @Purina + TWITTER: @Purina

This is a #sponsoredpost but we are very happy to work with Purina to provide these great tips!


  1. Comment by Kate

    Kate June 30, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Oh goodness. Need to really take your tips to heart!

  2. Comment by Jessi

    Jessi July 3, 2017 at 7:37 am

    I really like your very important post!!!! Great tips for a safe and happy vacation!!! Thanks for sharing:)

  3. Comment by Victoria Jones

    Victoria Jones July 9, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Your tips are awesome!
    Thank you for sharing.

Comments are closed.

Go top