VCA Animal Hospitals

Preparing for emergencies as a pet owner

Published: Sep 27, 2012

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Emergencies often come with little or no warning, and the supplies you'll need to get through an unexpected event can vary greatly. There are ways, however, that you can prepare as much as possible, and if you are a pet owner, then you'll need to take extra steps to ensure you'll be able to take care of your cat or dog in the event of an unexpected emergency. Here are some tips:

Know how to get medical help
If the emergency you are experiencing involves an unexpected medical issue, it's essential that all members of the family know who to call to get help. Post the phone numbers for your local vet clinics prominently in the home, and make sure everyone has the information programmed into his or her cell phone, if possible.

You can also prepare by planning out a route to the vet hospital in advance. Formulate a strategy for different hypothetical situations. For instance, if the area where you live is prone to coastal flooding, consider mapping out a route that avoids low ground.

Making your home a safe space for pets
Many dog or cat emergencies can happen within the home, which is why you must make sure your space is as safe for your pet as possible. In case of a fire, it's wise to have stickers on the outside of the doors leading into your home that include the name and a brief physical description of your pet. This will make it easier for firefighters to find and rescue your pet should a fire break out.

Even if your home is safe for pets on a day-to-day basis, keep in mind that certain disasters, like blizzards or blackouts, can leave you stranded at home. Always have extra pet food and water on hand for such emergencies, and keep extra medications your pet may need, such as dog diabetes insulin, in an easy to reach place. Cats will also need extra kitty litter, so stock up well in advance.

What to pack in your pet's first aid kit 
Just as you would keep a first aid kit at home for yourself and your family, you must also keep one for the pets in your home. These should contain bandages for dog wound treatment, an extra brush, tweezers, an extra leash, rubbing alcohol, clippers for grooming and vet-approved topical antibiotic ointments. If you're unsure what types of products are best to stock a first aid kit, speak with your vet and see if he or she has suggestions. You may find they are able to provide you with a first aid kit, or at least some of the materials you'll need to get started. Keep the first aid kit near a pet carrier or crate so you will be able to grab it if you need to quickly evacuate your pet in case of an emergency. 

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