Denise Fleck’s Top 5 Pet Disaster Preparedness Tips


Life happens!  When it does, will you be prepared to care for your four-legged best friend?  None of us hope to ever experience a fire destroying our home, yet we plan ahead — install fire alarms, smoke detectors and purchase insurance.  Being prepared makes sense as we can minimize potential injury to those we love, so don’t put it off…even one more day could be one day too late! That’s why I’m pleased to offer these top five pet disaster preparedness tips to the Goodnewsforpets community during National Preparedness Month.  – Denise Fleck


1. Create a Plan

Designate a meeting place for family members, making sure the ones you choose accept pets. Red Cross Shelters will not although many are now making provisions for animal shelters to be erected nearby.

Make arrangements with out-of-town friends and relatives, but also check with pet day care and boarding facilities and your Veterinarian to see if they will accommodate during a disaster.

Compile a list of hotels where pets are welcome and set aside one credit card for emergency use (Use it regularly however, for small purchases and pay off quickly to keep it activated).

Practice and be sure ALL family members know how to handle pets since you cannot predict who will be home with the dog, cat, bird or gecko when an emergency strikes.

2. Stash the following for each pet in an easy-to-carry backpack near the crate you’ll evacuate the animal in:

A two-week supply of food & medication stored in an airtight container. Make sure it is your dog or cat’s normal food (do not change diets during stressful times) and replace every 6-months so that it is fresh when needed. Canned food helps with hydration, so include a manual can opener unless your cans have pop tops. Don’t forget water (one gallon a day per pet for medium to large dogs and ½ gallon for smaller dogs and cats) which also has a shelf-life and shouldn’t be stored in direct sun or directly on concrete surfaces.

Vaccination & Microchip Records as well asphotos of your pet with the family as proof of ownership. Include pictures from various angles prominently showing special markings and colors as they identify your unique animal.

Basic Supplies include: treats, toys, bedding, food & water dishes, collars, harnesses and leashes, disinfectant for clean-up, disposable litter boxes, litter and scoops, doggie bags, paper towels, zip ties, duct tape, garbage bags, and whatever is needed for various species. For the two-legged family members…food, water & medication, clothing, rubber-soled shoes, battery or solar-powered radio and a flashlight near your bed so that you can help your pets to safety. It’s also a good idea to have cash (in bills smaller than 20s) easily accessible as ATM Machines may not be working.

Consider storing these items in several locations in the event they are un-retrievable when the ground shakes, the flames rise or the mud slides. Positioning items close to an outside wall in your home will allow easier access should buildings collapse and you need to rummage through rubble to get your supplies. Stowing duplicate items in your car is also a good idea.

3. Have a well-stocked up-to-date Pet First-Aid Kit like the one here.  Kits should include the minimum of a muzzle, bandaging items, antacids for upset tummies, antihistamines for allergies & bee stings, eye wash and hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in the event of poisoning. Taking a Pet First-Aid & CPR Class can teach you how to prepare for dog or cat emergencies so that you can rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better!

4. Place a Pet Alert Sticker near you front door noting the number of pets, what species and contact numbers for you and your Veterinarian. You may not be home when tragedy strikes and may not be allowed back up your street depending on the situation, so this lets trained professionals know to help pets inside.

5. In addition to Steps 1-4, Special Preparations for Specific Dangers are recommended:

Earthquakes do not come with advanced warning which means zero time for last minute disaster preparedness for your furry best friend.

  • Never position dog runs, crates or enclosures underneath objects that could fall.
  • Add bolt cutters to your disaster kit in case damaged cages or fencing need opening.
  • Know where to turn off the gas to your house, barn or kennels.
  • Confine pets immediately. Those that escape sometimes return at mealtime, but there are no guarantees. Be prepared to handle cut and burned paws, know how to splint broken bones and stop bleeding.

Hurricanes are predictable. The National Hurricane Center tracks weather patterns long before they pose a threat. Monitor local news channels, and once a Hurricane Watch is issued, realize you have 24-36 hours before it hits, so:

  • Keep pets indoors should you need to suddenly pack up and leave. Some sense impending doom and hide, so crate those, especially cats, early.
  • Stay tuned to news stations for evacuation routes.
  • Prep your house by boarding-up windows, stowing items that can blow (patio furniture) and securing gates.
  • If you evacuate, take all pets with you!

Wildfires Once underway, wildfires can consume thousands of acres and blow in changing directions, therefore…

  • Plan several escape routes incase flames block your path.
  • Create a “fire break” around your home by clearing away vegetation, especially dead brush, 30 feet from all structures.
  • Use fabric or leather leashes and collars. Nylon ones melt when hot and can badly burn your pet.
  • Take all animals with you, and monitor for burns and smoke inhalation. Knowing how to perform CPR could save your dog’s life!

Floods Floods can affect any part of the world but may be confined to only your home.

  • Map out several evacuation routes so that you can head for the nearest high ground, and leave early.
  • Do not leave any animal behind — you cannot anticipate how high water may rise, so if your canine has an avian friend take him along as well.
  • Disease can be an issue after a flood. Keep pets away from standing water and have a fresh drinking water on hand for everyone as tap water may not be safe.

Preparing for the worst may just prevent the worst from happening!

Denise Fleck is an award winning author and frequent guest speaker. After extensive training and practice, she developed her own Pet First-Aid & CPR curriculum as well as a 5 month long Animal Care course for high school students in conjunction with the Burbank Unified School District.  She has shared animal life-saving skills on CBS –TV’s The Doctors, Animal Planet and other shows. To complement her teachings, Denise created a line of Pet First-Aid Kits, posters and books for children teaching animal respect and care!  Visit to learn more.

This guest post is brought to the Goodnewsforpets community during September, National Preparedness Month. “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare” #NatlPrep









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