Q: What can I do to make sure my pets are ready in case of a disaster?
A: This is a very important question that many people overlook. Being that May 8th is disaster preparedness day, it is time for me to update my disaster plan too. Disasters such as earthquakes, fire, floods, etc., can be very scary and may come without any warning. If a fire breaks out in your home, you won't have time to logically think through everything and find all of the important details, and want to already have a plan.
A good plan should include a safe escape plan and meet up place for your family and your pets, all important medications and records, and important contact information.
Emergency kits for any animal should include: a collapsable food and water dish, several days worth of food, some bottled water, any medications, several toys and snacks for them, a copy of their medical records update in the past year, a current photo and description of them, and their microchip number.
Additionally dogs should have a leash and collar, and some doggie doody bags. Cats should have a carrier with a cat bed, small litter box filled with some litter. Birds and many rodents and small reptiles should have a travel cage. Snakes should have a pillow case to transport them in.
You should make sure your animal has a microchip to help identify them if they should escape or get lost in the confusion. Tags may get lost or torn off but shelters and veterinary hospitals all have microchip scanners to help identify any stray animal. It is important that you keep the microchip registered with current contact information. Nothing is sadder than when I find a microchipped animal and cannot return them because the owner moved and forgot to update their phone number and address.
Lastly, try to have one animal first aid kit: This should include betadine to clean wounds, bandage material, extra bottled water, and 2-3 days of any critical medication for each animal. This kit can have the copy of the medical records, the escape plan, important phone numbers including your vet, the local emergency clinics, the local shelters and animal control agencies, your closest friends and relatives, and the microchip number and registration information.
Together we can make sure that in an emergency, you and your pets can make it through this scary time safely and get back to normal as fast as possible.
Keep those questions coming.
–Dr. Jason Sweitzer