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Preparing Yourself and Your Dog for an Emergency

Are your pets ready for the worst?
By JoAnna Lou, April 2011, Updated February 2022
preparing pet for emergency

After attending a canine emergency seminar, I put together a first aid kit that included Elizabethan collars, bandages, eye wash, antibacterial ointment and contact information for the emergency vet. I was feeling pretty prepared, though, of course, I hoped that I’d never have to use any of it.

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a serious emergency, but a little prep will help make them less stressful for both you and your dog. Here are some tips I came across when I started thinking about my emergency plan.

Plan Ahead

While emergencies can come in many forms, an important starting point is to plan your evacuation route in a worst-case scenario where you must quickly leave home.

  • Put an “Animals Inside” sticker on your door (available free through the ASPCA)
  • Know which hotels along your evacuation route are pet friendly
  • Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters and/or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency

Prepare Your Pets

It might seem silly, but it’s actually incredibly helpful to practice emergency drills. It’s a good reminder about how helpful basic cues are in our day-to-day lives because these skills will become crucial in emergencies.

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  • Do regular reinforcement training of basic skills (nose touch, sit, stay and come)
  • Include pets in evacuation drills
  • Get your dog accustomed to going in their crates
  • Ensure your dog is wearing a collar with identification and is implanted with a microchip

Gather Supplies

Create a portable emergency kit with leashes, harnesses, food, drinking water, medication, and information on feeding schedules, behavior problems and medical records.

  • Pet first-aid kit including bandages, tweezers, scissors, antibiotic ointment, cotton balls, styptic powder are good starts or order a pet first-aid starter kit online.
  • Several days worth of dog food and water
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Poop bags for clean-up
  • Food and water bowls
  • Extra collar, harness and leash
  • A crate for each pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blankets
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)

Check out the ASPCA for more resources on creating a pet first aid kit and preparing for an emergency.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.