Be Ready, Stay Safe: National Pet Preparedness Month Guide

A Yorkshire Terrier and its owner look out of the window at heavy rains

Worrying about the weather is scary enough, but making sure your pet is safe and secure during emergencies doesn't have to be terrifying.

June marks National Pet Preparedness Month, a crucial time dedicated to raising awareness among US pet owners about the importance of preparing for emergencies. This month serves as a reminder that, just as we make plans to safeguard our families, preparing our pets for unexpected disasters is equally vital. From floods and fires to hurricanes and earthquakes, having a robust emergency plan for your pets not only ensures their safety but also alleviates the stress of facing such crises. In this guide, we'll delve into the essential components of a pet emergency kit and outline comprehensive strategies to protect your beloved animals during a variety of common US emergencies.

Essential Items for a Pet Emergency Kit

When disaster strikes, the right supplies can make a significant difference in keeping your pet safe and comfortable. Here's a comprehensive list of items every pet owner should include in their pet emergency kit:

Food and Water: Ensure you have a three-day supply of your pet's regular food and fresh water stored in sturdy containers. These supplies are crucial, as access to fresh provisions might be limited during an emergency.

Medications and Medical Records: Keep an updated record of all medications your pets need, along with a supply of these medications that will last for at least a few days. Store these documents and medications in a waterproof container to prevent damage.

Identification: A collar with ID tags, a leash, and a harness are essential for keeping your pet safe and ensuring they can be identified if you get separated. Make sure the ID tags include your current contact information.

Comfort Items: Familiar items, such as blankets, toys, and treats, can help reduce stress for your pet during uncertain times. These items provide a sense of security and normalcy.

Pet First Aid Kit: A basic first aid kit tailored for pets should include items such as bandages, antiseptics, and any specific medical supplies your pet might need. This kit is crucial for addressing any injuries your pet might sustain during an emergency.

Photos for Identification: Keep recent photos of your pet, along with a description of any distinctive marks or behaviors, in your emergency kit. These can be invaluable for identification purposes if your pet gets lost.

Emergency Contacts: Have a list of contact information for your regular veterinarian, as well as nearby emergency veterinary clinics and pet-friendly accommodations. Also, include contacts for local animal shelters and rescue organizations. We've designed a list that you can download and print, then you can fill in your emergency contacts and hang it on the fridge as well as popping a copy into your first aid kit.

By assembling these items, you can create a robust emergency kit that will significantly enhance your pet’s safety and well-being during emergencies. Preparation can lead to peace of mind, knowing that you are ready to care for your pet under any circumstances.

A young woman researches emergencies on her laptop while playing with her copper Dachshund

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep up to date on weather forecasts, especially during hurricane and wildfire seasons.

Specific Considerations for Common Emergencies

Different regions are prone to various types of emergencies. Here’s a breakdown of specific preparations and considerations for common emergencies, ensuring your pets are protected:

Floods: Understand the flood risks in your area and map out evacuation routes in advance. If there are high flood risks in your area, consider having a pet-safe life jacket or harness in your emergency kit. Have a plan for moving your pets to higher ground quickly and safely. Make sure your pet emergency kit is easily accessible and your pets are familiar with being transported.

Tornadoes: Identify safe areas in your home where you and your pets can seek shelter during a tornado. Basements or small, windowless interior rooms or hallways on the lowest floor are ideal. Consider investing in a pet carrier or a safe room equipped to protect your pets. If you do have a shelter space, consider keeping a crate with food and water bowls and comfortable bedding for your pet so they can feel safe and secure. 

Hurricanes: For those living in hurricane-prone areas, prepare to secure outdoor pets and have an evacuation plan in place that includes pet-friendly shelters. Keep a pet emergency kit ready, and ensure your pets are comfortable being transported in a carrier.

Fires: Develop a fire safety plan that includes your pets. Keep leashes, carriers, and your pet emergency kit near exits. Practice evacuating your pets so they become accustomed to the process. Be aware of the signs of a wildfire and have a plan for quick evacuation.

Other Disasters: Be prepared for earthquakes, blizzards, power outages, and other local emergencies. Secure your pets in a safe location within your home, ensure they have warmth during power outages, and keep them indoors during blizzards or earthquakes.

By tailoring your emergency preparedness to the specific types of disasters likely to occur in your region, you enhance the safety and security of your pets. Always stay informed about potential emergencies and update your plans and kits as necessary.

Creating a Pet Emergency Plan

A well-thought-out pet emergency plan is essential for ensuring the safety of your pets during a disaster. Follow these steps to create a robust emergency plan:

Establish Communication Protocols and Emergency Contacts: Start by compiling a list of emergency contacts, including veterinarians, local animal shelters, and pet rescue organizations. Share this list with family members and other caregivers. Establish clear communication protocols to keep everyone informed during an emergency.

Assign Responsibilities and Roles: Clearly assign roles and responsibilities to each family member or caregiver. Determine who will be responsible for grabbing the emergency kit, who will handle each pet, and who will manage communications. Having predefined roles helps prevent confusion and ensures quick action during emergencies.

Practice Evacuation Drills: Regularly practice evacuation drills with all family members and pets to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go. Familiarize your pets with their carriers and practice walking on a leash or harness if necessary. This helps reduce stress and panic during an actual evacuation.

Identify Pet-Friendly Accommodations and Shelters: Research and identify pet-friendly accommodations and shelters ahead of time. Know where you can take your pets if you need to evacuate your home. Keep a list of these locations in your emergency kit and include contact details, addresses, and any requirements these facilities have for accepting pets.

By following these steps, you can create a comprehensive emergency plan that accounts for the well-being of your pets. This preparation not only ensures their safety but also provides you with peace of mind in the face of unexpected disasters.

A couple of young women pose with dogs at a community animal shelter

Animal shelters are renowned for caring for pets that have wandered during emergencies, and are among the first resource you should check if your beloved pet does go missing.

Community Resources and Assistance

In the event of an emergency, knowing where to turn for help can be crucial for the safety and well-being of your pets. Here is an overview of community resources and assistance available to pet owners:

Local Animal Shelters and Rescue Organizations: Local animal shelters and rescue organizations can provide temporary housing and care for pets during emergencies. They often offer resources on how to prepare for disasters and what to do if you become separated from your pets. Establish contact with nearby shelters and understand their protocols and capacity before an emergency arises.

Emergency Response Agencies and Disaster Relief Organizations: Familiarize yourself with organizations like FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), which provides guidelines and support for disaster preparedness, including for pets. Local emergency management agencies can also offer crucial support and information during disasters.

Online Resources and Mobile Apps: Several online platforms and mobile apps are invaluable for emergency preparedness and response. Apps like the Red Cross Pet First Aid App provide practical tips for everyday pet emergencies and preparation steps for larger disasters. Websites such as offer detailed pet preparedness guides and checklists that can be easily accessed and followed.

Leveraging these resources can significantly enhance your ability to protect your pets during emergencies. Be proactive in gathering information and preparing in advance, ensuring that you have quick access to help when you need it the most.

Final Thoughts

As we observe National Pet Preparedness Month, it’s essential to emphasize the importance of being proactive in preparing for emergencies that could affect our beloved pets. Throughout this guide, we've highlighted the critical steps in assembling a comprehensive pet emergency kit, tailoring emergency plans to specific types of disasters, and utilizing community resources effectively. These preparations are key to ensuring the safety and well-being of your pets during unexpected situations.

We encourage all pet owners to take immediate action by creating or updating their pet emergency kits and plans. Consider the specific needs and risks in your area to ensure your plans are as effective as possible. For additional information and resources on pet preparedness, visit reputable websites such as or download emergency preparedness guides and checklists that can help you stay organized and prepared.

By taking these steps today, you can ensure a safer tomorrow for your pets, giving you peace of mind that you are ready to protect and care for your furry family members no matter what challenges may arise.

For more information on pet safety, check out these articles:

Celebrating Safely with Our Canine Friends: Tips for Pet Parents

Happy Dog Essentials: Fun Ways to Boost Mental and Physical Health

Decoding and Solving 5 Common Dog Behaviors: From Chewing to Jumping

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