Pet Emergency Prep 101: 7 Must-Haves for Your Pet Survival Kit - #3 Might Save Your Pet's Life!

10/31/2017 03:45 am ET Updated Nov 03, 2017

When disaster strikes, there is no time for emergency preparedness or contingency planning. You need to take action fast and get yourself and your loved ones to safety immediately - and that’s including your pets as well.

When it comes to your furry family members, it is critical that you prepare and plan for a pet evacuation kit that might save your animal’s life in the daunting aftermath of a natural disaster like an earthquake, a hurricane or a fire.

It is a common misconception that household pets like dogs and cats can survive wild weather with the least amount of assistance from their owners. That is NOT true for large scale devastating disasters like a raging fire or a high-level tornado.

Look at this video of a pet dog stranded on a car during the catastrophic Hurricane Irma that wrecked havoc in Florida last September.

If this doesn’t tug at your heartstrings and make you wake up and prep for your pet’s survival plan, then nothing else will.

So, let’s dig in and find out the top 7 essentials you need for a properly prepared pet emergency kit.

Pet Survival Kit Item #1 - Dry Food with a Long Shelf-Life

With hurricane after hurricane massively destroying entire regions in the U.S. recently and elsewhere (Hurricane Ophelia has created havoc in Ireland last month and thousands of people were stranded there without any power) resulting in the loss of life and devastating destruction of property, you need to prepare for at least two weeks of food supply for your pet for such a scenario.

When you’re homeless, in a flooded or damaged area, with no power or conveyance, while also trying to take care of your family, the last thing you need to worry about is where your pet’s next meal will come from; and no, human foods are a no-go for animals.

It can make them sick, and even be poisonous in certain cases.

For instance, you might snack on a chocolate protein bar when hunger strikes, but if you let your Chihuahua gobble up that bar, it could very well end up killing it.

Vets consider ingestion of a substantial amount of chocolate by cats and dogs as a medical emergency. A natural disaster is hardly the time for experimenting with new and risky foods with your pets.

Get dry food from pet stores that has a shelf life of 5 years - the longer the better. Freeze-dried food also works.

Stay away from high-fat imported foods that are easily and cheaply available at Walmart as those can go bad pretty quickly.

Cool Survival Tip - Pack a few collapsible food and water bowls in your pet evac pack as those come in handy and hardly take up any space.

Pet Survival Kit Item #2 - Clean Drinkable Water

You do not want a thirsty animal on your hands when dealing with the chaos of a natural calamity. Besides quenching the thirst of your pet, you might require water for cleaning up messy scenarios like your ferret getting sick or your rabbit pooping on your bug-out bag.

Make sure you have a few extra gallons of water for you and your family’s needs as well as for your furry friend.

Cool Survival Tip - Carry a water filter in your emergency preparedness bag instead of lugging around a dozen gallons of water everywhere for the usage of your family and pets.

Pet Survival Kit Item #3 - Medicines with a Dosage Guide and a First-Aid Kit

Consult your pet’s vet as to the medicines and supplies you need and how to prepare for it in case of a medical emergency.

Picture this: your country is on lockdown due to a massive tornado or a violent hailstorm; roads are blocked and there is water, fallen trees and tons of debris everywhere.

Your cat wanders out and hurts its leg. You think it might be a fracture. It is constantly meowing in pain.

What do you do?

How do you fix the pain your pet is suffering from when you’re completely on your own?

This is where a guidebook from your cat’s vet and an efficiently packed first-aid kit and the right medications come in. These could very well save your pet’s life in the event of a natural catastrophe.

Want to know how to pack a pet survival first-aid kit? Check out this article from ASPCA which details exactly what items you need for it.

If you’re a super cautious person and you‘d like to include dental tools as well, look no further then the Petzlife spray. It will get rid of the tartar from your pet’s mouth and kill all the gingivitus as well.

Cool Survival Tip - Collect all paperwork like vet health documents and vaccination records in a waterproof folder and keep it safe.

Pet Survival Kit Item #4 - A Pet Carrier or Crate for Each Pet

This one is pretty easy to understand - you need a pet carrier for every pet you own for safe travel from your house to wherever you’re evacuating to. It does help if its a well-used crate or carrier as pets are comforted by familiar smells, specially their own.

Animals pick up turbulent weather changes in the initial stages and become anxious quickly. So, you do not want Fido or Felix howling their lungs out during your travel when you’re already battling evacuation stress and panic due to an oncoming hurricane.

If you plan to get a new pet travel carrier, do so right away. And once you have it, let your pet stay inside it for an hour or so regularly. This will make your four-legged pal adjust nicely to it and not give you any trouble if an evacuation becomes necessary.

Cool Survival Tip - Your dog’s preferred chew toys and your cat’s favorite rubber mouse are a must-have for a stress-free time in the pet crate or carrier. This will also help them weather the raging elements without much agitation.

Include various treats in your pet disaster preparedness kit along with their favorite play-things as keeping your pet entertained won’t be easy or possible for you at such a chaotic time.

A laser pointer for your cat and a chew-able bone toy for your dog will keep them occupied for ages and make them feel things are normal, while you tend to the more pressing needs of an urgent evacuation.

Pet Survival Kit Item #5 - Sweaters, Boots and Extra Blankets

Some animals are overly sensitive to weather and may need extra layers and padding for more insulation against the elements.

Beagles, Pugs, Rottweilers, Great Danes are just some of the dog breeds that are uber-sensitive to chilly weather.

As for cats, they’re naturally warmth-seeking animals and love lazing around in sunshine, even in summers. So, an extra blanket or two and some cozy sweaters and/or cowls are essential for keeping your furry pet safe from extreme snow, winds and rains.

Small animals like guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits need a properly insulated cage to keep them warm during severe weather conditions.

Boots are critical due to the hazardous debris which results after a bad storm or a tornado. Heavy snow also necessitates proper shoes for your pets when your path is rendered un-walkable for bare paws.

Cool Survival Tip - Get a travel pet bag to put your pet safely inside just in case you need to carry it across water or damaged roads.

Pet Survival Kit Item #6 - Collars, Harness & Leashes

This one’s self-explanatory. A sturdy collar with a proper tag with your name, address and updated phone number, as well as a phone number of a friend or a relative is mandatory for all your pets.

In fact, get your pet microchipped, if you haven’t already, as that would ensure you getting reunited with it if it wanders away and gets separated during an emergency.

Cool Survival Tip - Complete the requisite forms with your updated contact details under which you had your pet registered and send them across to the local council.

Pet Survival Kit Item #7 - Litter Tray & Litter

This one bears more significance with all cat parents as felines are creatures of habit and would prefer their litter tray next to nothing once they’re adjusted to it. So, pack up lots of litter, a scoop, extra newspapers, some garbage bags or waste disposal bags, disinfectant and also some baking soda and bleach to eliminate the foul smell and/or stains.

Other Important Pet Emergency Preparedness Pack Essentials:

  • Keep a couple of recently taken photographs of your beloved furry companion in your pet evac kit to search for it if gets separated from you when chaos kicks in (hopefully not!).

Don’t rely on the pictures in your smartphone as anything could happen to it - like the battery dying out, to you losing it or the phone getting immersed in water or worse.

  • Also necessary - flea and tick treatment supplies like sprays and shampoos.
  • Another set of essentials - grooming supplies like nail trimmers, brushes and more to keep your four-legged family member hygienic and healthy.
  • Paper towels!
  • Do NOT take any chances at all! Evacuate with your pets at the first warning or initial signs of an oncoming calamity.

Remember - if it is not safe for you, it is not safe for them.

This could have ended in tragedy but by some miracle from God, the cat was found alive and unhurt during the California, Napa Valley wildfires that have wreaked havoc and destroyed everything in its blazing path.

  • Find out which hotels, motels and shelters near your area accept pets during an evacuation. This will come in handy in case you REALLY cannot travel with your pets.
  • Plan in advance because you may have to travel for a month or longer, depending on the damage and destruction left behind.
  • NEVER leave your pets and livestock chained or tied to poles or doorways if you are not able to evacuate with them! They deserve to live as much as you do. It is cruel and inhumane to take away any chances of survival from them by tying them up.

Here is an utterly wretched picture of a dog abandoned by its owners and tied to a pole while a flood caused by a violent hurricane continues to swell around him.

  • Once the emergency is over, do not let your pets inside your damaged home without assessing the property first for potential hazards and dangers. In fact, after a natural calamity occurs, pets could give in to behavioral issues and disorientation due to lack of familiar smells and places. That is why it is pertinent to keep your canines firmly on leashes and your felines in safe carriers till you’re in a safe zone.

Any disaster prep you do for your pets will be quite similar to what you’ve planned for your family because your furry companions have the same needs as humans do. They may be a small part of your family, but they are definitely a big part of your heart, aren’t they?

Download the Pet Disaster Prep & Pet Safety App on your smartphones which is helpfully provided by the ASPCA for free. Get more details here.

Do comment about your pet survival planning and also share any disaster related pet rescue stories that have touched your heart.

Share this article with as many people as you can so pet parents everywhere can know how to keep their cherished animals safe during a time of panic and upheaval that comes with a destructive force of nature.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS