Be prepared to grab your pet’s essentials at a moment’s notice.

By Southern Living Editors
Updated January 26, 2021
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No one enjoys imagining worst case scenarios. However, planning ahead for a possible emergency is necessary for protecting your family—including your pets. Being prepared is always a good thing. A hurricane, flood, tornado, earthquake, fire, or other dangerous event could leave you displaced from home for a prolonged period of time. Ensure your four-legged family members are also prepared for an abrupt evacuation by packing an emergency kit—filled with essential documents, medications, a supply of food and water, and more—for your cat or dog. Should owners need to leave home in a hurry, they can quickly grab a travel-ready bag of their pet's necessities and go.

What To Pack

Plan ahead for a potential disaster by preparing a pet emergency kit for your dog or cat to keep them safe while away from home. Find a full checklist from the CDC here. On their list, the CDC recommends a including two-week supply of food and water for each animal; photocopies of veterinary records and registration information; medications; a litterbox and litter; leashes, collar with ID, and harness; and many other essentials for your pet's well-being. Packing a toy or blanket can help comfort your pet while away from home. Items included in the emergency kits will vary depending on the animal.

The ASPCA recommends not only that pets wear collars with up-to-date information but also microchipping pets as more permanent forms of ID. The organization also recommends keeping the "evac-pack" close to an exit and making sure the whole family knows where to find it should a crisis arise.

Stay Prepared

Along with compiling pet emergency kits, make a disaster preparedness plan for your family in advance. Purina recommends creating an evacuation plan with a list of pet-friendly evacuation shelters or safe havens like your vet's office, a trusted relative's house, a pet-friendly hotel, or animal shelter. Do not leave your pets behind when you evacuate. In the event you are unable to bring your pets with you during an evacuation, the ASPCA recommends contacting your veterinarian or local animal shelter for emergency shelter or asking friends and relatives in your area if they're able to care for your pets. If something happens while you're away, Purina encourages creating a "buddy system" by asking a neighbor, family member, or friend to check on your pets while you're away. Be sure to add this caregiver to your emergency contact list, and let them know where your pet's emergency kit is stored inside the home.