NJM Blog

What to Do With Your Pets in a Natural Disaster

Dog hiding under blanket.

Disaster preparedness is important to help ensure you and your family remain safe during a disaster. If you have pets, make sure your planning includes them. Here are some tips to help you keep your four–legged friends safe during a disaster.

Sheltering in Place

If sheltering at home with your pet is your only option, take these steps:

  • Dogs can sense stress and fear, so try to remain calm.

  • Select a safe room, preferably in a basement or an interior room with no windows.

  • Bring your pet's favorite bed or blanket.

  • Remove any chemicals or plants that could be harmful to animals.

  • Close off areas where small pets could hide and get stuck (e.g., vents, underneath furniture).

  • Dogs can get restless in confined spaces, so have favorite toys to keep them stimulated.

  • Make sure your dog has an area to relieve itself; keep cleaning supplies handy in case of an accident.

Make an Evacuation Plan

Your pets depend on you for their safety and well–being. If it's not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, it's not safe for them either.

  • Make sure that your pet's vaccinations are current. Many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations to reduce the spread of disease.

  • Have securely–fastened collars with ID tags on your pets, including your address and phone number.

  • Most emergency shelters will not accept pets — other than service animals — because of health and safety concerns and other considerations.

  • Become familiar with hotels and motels along your evacuation route that will accept pets in an emergency. Call ahead for reservations if you know you may need to evacuate.

  • Prepare a list with contact information of friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters, or veterinarians who can care for your animals in an emergency.

  • Microchip identification helps ensure that you and your pet can reunite if separated. Be sure the microchip registration is current and includes a friend or relative's name and contact information in addition to yours.

Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit

Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily. Your kit should include:

  • Strong leashes, harnesses, and pet carriers for safe transport.

  • A one–week supply of food and drinking water; have bowls, cat litter/pan, and a manual can opener for canned food.

  • Liquid soap to wash food/water bowls, paper towels, and disinfectant to clean carriers.

  • Medications and copies of medical records in a waterproof bag or container.

  • A pet first aid kit with items such as absorbent gauze pads and rolls, bandages, emollient creams to treat skin irritations, antiseptic wipes, latex gloves, and a muzzle (since a frightened dog is more likely to bite).

  • Photos of you and your pet to prove ownership in the event you are separated.

  • Pet bed and toys.

  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.

  • Plastic bags or other means of disposing of your dog's waste.