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Published: Apr 01, 2011

April is national pet first aid awareness month, a time for pet guardians across the U.S. to focus on animal safety. In the wake of the recent disaster in Japan, which left many pets homeless or stranded, having a plan in place for a pet during a natural disaster is likely on the minds of dog and cat owners.

The Red Cross has outlined tips to guide pet parents during this month of awareness. According to the first aid organization, it's important to remember that animal safety is of utmost importance during the warmer months. Keep in mind that no animal should be left in the heat for too long, and it's never safe to leave a pet unattended in a vehicle.

Obese pets or dogs with short noses are at an increased risk during hot days. Pet owners should keep an eye out for heavy panting or a change in gum color, as these could be signs that an animal is overheating.

Having a vet implant a microchip in an animal or making sure they wear tags at all times is a good way to ensure their safety in the event of a natural disaster, according to NBC affiliate WDIV Detroit.