From the Humane Society
Learn what supplies you’ll need to keep your cat, dog, or other pet safe and healthy
Everyone who shares a home with a pet should have a basic pet first-aid kit on hand.
Keep your pet’s first-aid kit in your home and take it with you if you are traveling with your pet.
One way to start your kit is to buy a first-aid kit designed for people and add pet-specific items to it. You can also purchase a pet first-aid kit from a pet-supply store or catalog. But you can easily assemble your own kit by gathering the items on our lists below.
- Pet first-aid book
- Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!) and a poison-control center or hotline (such as the ASPCA poison-control center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
- Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
- Nylon leash
- Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
- Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)
Basic first-aid supplies
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
- Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Gauze rolls
- Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
- Ice pack
- Non-latex disposable gloves
- Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
- Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
- Scissors (with blunt ends)
- Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
- Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
- A pillowcase to confine your cat for treatment
- A pet carrier
Pre-assembled first-aid kits
The hassle of creating a kit for your pet can be reduced by purchasing one pre-assembled.
Other useful items
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet’s size.
- Ear-cleaning solution
- Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
- Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
- Nail clippers
- Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
- Penlight or flashlight
- Plastic eyedropper or syringe
- Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
- Splints and tongue depressors
- Styptic powder or pencil (sold at veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, and your local pharmacy)
- Temporary identification tag (to put your local contact information on your pet’s collar when you travel)
- Needle-nosed pliers
In addition to the items listed above, include anything your veterinarian has recommended specifically for your pet.
Check the supplies in your pet’s first-aid kit occasionally and replace any items that have expired.
For your family’s safety, keep all medical supplies and medications out of the reach of children and pets.
Make sure your pets are protected when disaster strikes. Download our 5 Animal Disaster Preparedness Essentials checklist (PDF):
Get more details on emergency planning for specific types of disasters:
Planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your pets safe if disaster strikes. Follow these tips to make an emergency plan for your pets:
1. Microchip your pets
Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date, and include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area.
2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs
Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is especially important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.
3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay
Search in advance for out-of-area pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, or make a housing exchange agreement with an out-of-area friend or relative. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate!
Search for pet-friendly accommodations at:
- Pet Friendly Hotels (United States)
- PetsWelcome.com (United States)
- DoginMySuitcase.com (International)
- PetTravel.com (International)
4. Use the buddy system
Exchange pet information, evacuation plans and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends. If you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you.
5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal
Stock up on the items you may need during a disaster now so you do not get caught unprepared. Below are basic items you should include in your pets’ disaster kits. Store your disaster kit supplies in an easy-to-grab container.
- One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
- One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
- Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
- Copies of vaccination records
- Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership
- Photographs of your pets in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers
- Pet first aid kit
- Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
- Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.
Get more details on emergency planning for specific species:
6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area
If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Pets may become injured or ill during the disaster, so make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan that includes setting up in an alternate, emergency facility.
7. Plan for temporary confinement
Physical structures, like walls, fences and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animal safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate or kennel.
Often, when animals are evacuated to unfamiliar locations, their stress and fear can lead to illness injury. Read more tips for ensuring your pets’ safety during an evacuation.
8. Comfort your animals
Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed following a disaster or while evacuated, and you may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Some animals, especially cats, may be too scared to be comforted. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.
9. Know where to search for lost animals
When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep handy the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area.
10. Get children involved in disaster preparedness plans. The book Ready or Not, Here it Comes! by RedRover Responders Team Leader, Howard Edelstein, discusses how to prepare for all types of disasters to safeguard families and the animals in their care.
If a disaster hit your town, would you be prepared to care for your pet? Assemble your kit, then join our “We’re Ready” campaign:
Post the “We’re Ready” sign on your Facebook page to show everyone that you and your pet(s) are evacuation-ready.
Pet Disaster Preparedness
Plan Ahead to Protect Pets
A natural disaster or an emergency can take place when you least expect it. In moments of panic or chaos, you may not have enough time or foresight to evacuate pets with their daily essentials. Planning ahead for pets will save you valuable time—and keep your pets safe.
Storing an accessible “grab and go” bag for pets and having a well thought-out exit strategy will have you prepared for the worst.
Check out our infographic below for quick tips on preparing yourself—and your pets—for a disaster plan.
For more in-depth info on preparing pets for a disaster, read “5 Natural Disaster Tips for Pet Owners.”
Pets have been routinely evacuated from flood areas in Colorado, despite life-threatening conditions for the rescuers, because officials there made a conscious decision to save pets and people, adopting the motto “No pets left behind,” according to a National Guard spokesman. Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina led rescuers to include pets in their evacuation plans, and temporary shelters have been ready with pet essentials including water bowls and kenneling capabilities. The Seattle Times/The Associated Press
By JERI CLAUSING Associated Press
In contrast to stories of people forced to leave their pets when New Orleans was swamped by Hurricane Katrina, the motto during one of the largest evacuations in Colorado history was “No pets left behind,” said Skye Robinson, a spokesman for the National Guard air search and rescue operations during Colorado’s floods. That’s because including pets in the rescue effort helped convince even reluctant residents to leave their homes. Officials also had more than enough space for the animals and even carried animal crates with them.
More than 800 pets have been ferried to safety with their owners via helicopter, the National Guard said. Hundreds more were rescued by ground crews. Livestock, like horses and cattle, were left behind, but a monkey was among those saved.
Once safely on dry ground, Red Cross shelters had water bowls, on-site dog kennels and all the necessary supplies to ensure already stressed evacuees wouldn’t be separated from their pets.
“We kind of learned after Katrina, when people wouldn’t evacuate because of their pets,” said Kathy Conner, a worker at a shelter at a YMCA in Boulder.
Evacuees Jerry Grove and Dorothy Scott-Grove said they never would have abandoned their vacation cabin in Estes Park without their two golden retrievers. But they didn’t have to make that hard choice. Firefighters carried the two large dogs to safety on the same zip line used to rescue the retired Ohio couple.
“They put them in a harness and one of the firefighters hooked himself to them and brought them across,” Dorothy Scott-Grove said. “We will not be separated.”
Once out, the Red Cross found the couple a pet-friendly hotel where the dogs the next day “were resting comfortably on our king-sized bed,” she said.
In a state where dog passengers are as common as humans in cars, Lisa Pedersen, CEO of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, said taking care of pets has become a central part of disaster planning.
It appears to be working. One week after floods and mudslides forced the local evacuation of more than 3,000 people, Pederson said the Boulder area shelter had just 72 pet evacuees – all but two of which were delivered by their owners for temporary shelter after they were forced from their homes.
“It just makes sense that you bring the pets along. They are part of the family,” Robinson said. “You wouldn’t leave a family behind because they had kids.”
Follow Jeri Clausing on twitter (at)jericlausing
A detection dog-training center opens Tuesday, on the anniversary of Sept. 11, at the University of Pennsylvania so scientists can train dogs for search-and-rescue missions — and study what helps them succeed.
Cynthia Otto, who served on a team that used working dogs to search for survivors in the rubble at ground zero, created the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. She’s a veterinarian who specializes in emergency, critical care and disaster medicine, and she has consulted with the military about the health of search-and-rescue dogs, including Cairo, the dog who worked on the Osama bin Laden mission. She tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that detection dogs are invaluable.
“There are so many jobs now that dogs are being used for,” Otto says. “Originally it was kind of looked at as that patrol dog or the bomb-detection dog, but now they’re being used to find the IEDs [improved explosive devices]. Some of them are actually being used for therapy in the field, which is really incredible. But they’re starting to look at all of the different potential components that these dogs can contribute to…and the detection area is so important because these dogs are better than any machine that we have — and they can save lives.”
Annemarie DeAngelo, the center’s training director, founded the New Jersey State Police Canine Unit and has worked with canines for more than 13 years. With her dog partners, she has searched for missing children, criminals and drugs — one drug seizure involved 1,200 kilos of cocaine.
With her canine companions, DeAngelo says she feels “very confident that I know my partner is doing his job, and that no harm is going to come to me, and we’re going to find what we’re looking for.”
A scientific approach to maintaining hydration for working dogs
Cynthia Otto: “One of the big concerns that we have not only with the military dogs but also the search-and-rescue dogs from Sept. 11 and Katrina is maintaining their hydration, and so that’s a project we’re very actively working on at this time because these dogs are so focused on what they’re doing. They’re really intent, and so they’re just gonna keep on doing it and they forget that they need to have a drink. And what happens is then they’re more likely to get overheated, they’re more likely to really get exhausted if they don’t take a break. …
“And so we’re looking at different approaches to keeping them hydrated so that they can stay safe, they can work well, and that’s a question that people have lots of ideas about, and no one’s taken that scientific approach. And that’s what we’re doing.”
On how dogs are trained to find the living
Otto: “With finding live people, it’s very important that they’re trained to very quickly identify a concealed person, and that allows them to work in an area where there are a lot of other people that are visible but aren’t concealed. And those dogs typically have what we call a very active alert — they bark. It may be used in the human remains also to have an active alert, but most of them are a more passive alert, which means that they would either sit or paw to alert that there is something there. The urgency with the live find is really what’s so important, because we have such limited time to be successful.”
On how training dogs to apprehend criminals is different from search and rescue
Annemarie DeAngelo: “When you’re sniffing, the dogs are using their olfactories to locate a substance, whether it’s explosives or narcotics. When you’re making a criminal apprehension, that is when the dog is assisting the officer and he bites and holds the person until the officer gets there, or if someone is assaulting the officer, dogs are automatically trained to protect that officer. …
“[The training] starts out as game of tug of war and it evolves. It’s a long process, but it evolves to a sleeve, and you just keep training every day until the dog will go out and make a clean apprehension.”
On whether dogs have a sense of service
Otto: “I would love to think that, but I think they think it’s a game. …
“They don’t care who they find. If they find somebody, they get their Frisbee; it’s a game and that’s what life is all about. I believe dogs have such an amazing connection with us, and I think that sometimes what it’s all about for them is what they’re feeling from their handler — that pride that we can give them — that feeling, just that connection, because that is important to them. But it’s about the game. I don’t think that they really do know that they’re being so amazing and so patriotic and so helpful. They’re doing what they do naturally.”
|National Disaster Preparedness Month encourages the public to work together to take concrete actions towards emergency preparedness. This is a perfect time to prepare as California has been experiencing wildfires and earthquakes recently.
AHF Board of Trustees member, Veterinarian Dr. Dirk Yelinek is a well-known disaster preparedness expert. Go to our website and download his primer on “Disaster Preparedness for the Pet Owner”.