10 Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe During a Natural Disaster

6 min read

Would you know what to do with your pets in the event of a natural disaster? Not to worry. We’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you and assembled a list of things you should do BEFORE disaster strikes. Keep reading for tips on how to keep your pets out of harm’s way during a natural disaster.

10. Assemble an Emergency Kit

Emergency Kit
Source: Pixabay

Keep a pet emergency kit on hand. Here are some items you should include in your kit:

-An adequate supply of food and clean water
-Feeding dishes, water bowls, and can openers
-Leashes, collars with ID, and harnesses
-Medications, veterinary records, and registration information
-Cleaning supplies
-Doggie poop bags and disposable litter trays
-Comfort toys
-Pet carriers and bedding
-Pet first aid book
-First aid supplies
-Boarding instructions and contact information (in case your pets are staying elsewhere during the disaster)

9. Don’t Leave Your Pets Behind

Abandoned Pets
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re told to evacuate your home, then it’s not safe for your pets to be there either. If you’re going to stay with family or friends, take your pets with you. If you plan on staying at a hotel or motel, make a list of those outside of your immediate area that are pet-friendly.

If for some reason you cannot take your pets with you, follow these tips:
-Ask out-of-town family and friends to take in your pets temporarily
-Check with the local animal shelter to see if they provide emergency shelter for pets
-Leave your pets at a boarding kennel

The PETS Act, signed into law in 2006 in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs for pets following an emergency or major disaster. The act also authorizes FEMA to provide care for individuals with household pets and service animals.

8. Invest in a Pet Rescue Sticker

Pet Rescue Alert Sticker
Source: ASPCA

A pet rescue sticker will let rescue workers know that there are animals inside your home that need to be saved. The sticker lets you list the number and type of animals in your home as well as any phone numbers rescue personnel should call in the event of an emergency. You can get a pet rescue sticker for free by simply filling out a form on the ASPCA’s website. You may also be able to purchase similar stickers from local pet supply stores.

NOTE: The ASPCA recommends placing the sticker on or near your front door.

7. Hold Practice Drills with Your Pets

Earthquake Drill
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Pets, especially dogs, can be trained to obey many commands, including those you set in place for disaster preparedness. Russell Hartstein, renowned dog, and cat behaviorist recommends making it fun. “Condition your dog and cat to love all of the items and process of evacuation. Most importantly, expose them positively to new stimuli and environments gradually, only with positive reinforcement. Have them looking forward to road trips and different or unfamiliar sounds, smells, surfaces, and sights,” he said in a Reader’s Digest article.

Stumped for drill ideas? Try this:
Step 1: Collect your first-aid kit
Step 2: Collect your pets’ comfort items (e.g. toys, blankets, etc.)
Step 3: Get your pets into the car or carrier

NOTE: Animals are often afraid of storms, and as a result, will run and hide. If this is the case with your pets, you’ll also have to practice safely removing them from their hiding places.

6. Invest in Survival Gear

Life Vest
Source: Pixabay

Natural disasters include not only hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes, but severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and snowstorms, too. Investing in survival gear can mean the difference between life and death. Consider purchasing a life vest to keep your pets afloat in the event of a flood or dog boots and winter sweaters/jackets for safety during winter storms.

A pet anxiety vest, such as the ThunderShirt, may come in handy for pets that are skittish during thunderstorms. These vests help to relieve anxiety by applying constant pressure to an animal’s torso, much like the practice of swaddling babies or using pressure to reduce anxiety in autistic people.

5. Keep ID Information Up to Date

Update Note
Source: Pixabay

Make sure your pets’ tags and collars are up to date. The information you should put on the ID tags includes pet names, owner names, telephone numbers, and any medical needs.

Also, if your pets have been microchipped, make sure that the company that registered the microchip has the most up-to-date information. For those of you who aren’t familiar with microchipping, here’s how the process works: A microchip with an identification number is implanted under the animal’s skin in the shoulder area. The identification number is read by a scanner that’s passed over the area where the chip is implanted. The chip can be read by a scanner at most animal shelters.

4. Make Your Storm-Safe Area at Home Pet-Friendly

Storm Cellar
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re going to ride it out at home, make sure your storm-safe area is pet-friendly. You can do this by choosing an area of your home with few or no windows, closing off nooks and crannies where pets can hide and get stuck inside, and moving any dangerous tools or toxic chemicals to another location.

PetMD also recommends keeping your pets in their carriers or on their leashes. “You never know when you might be forced to evacuate. And even if that doesn’t happen, you don’t want to be tracking down a petrified pet during the chaos. Therefore, secure your pet before the storm hits,” the pet health information website said.

3. Keep Calm

Keep Calm And Carry On
Source: Wikimedia Commons by Ryan Somma from Occoquan, USA (Rally to Restore Sanity: Keep Calm and Carry On) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
Did you know that animals can sense your emotions? That’s why it’s important to remain as calm as possible during stressful situations such as this. Here are some tips to follow:

-Evacuate early enough so that you don’t panic and so that your pets aren’t panicky as you’re trying to load them into the car or their carrier.
-Make sure you pack plenty of treats to keep your pets calm and happy.
-Don’t forget to pack familiar items like comfort toys, blankets, bedding, etc., that can help soothe your pets and keep them calm.

2. Download the ASPCA App

Aspca Logo
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you want to make sure you’ve covered all the bases, you can download the ASPCA mobile app for free. The app shows pet owners what to do in the event of a natural disaster. The app can also be used to store medical records and build a lost pet flyer that you can share with your followers and friends on social media sites. You’ll also get a personalized missing pet recovery kit with step-by-step instructions on how to search for lost pets, as well as up-to-date news about pets and animal welfare. And, best of all, data connectivity is not required to access critical advice.

FYI, you can download the app here.

1. Make Sure You Know What to Do in the Aftermath

Source: Pixabay

Natural disasters destroy everything in their paths, including sights and smells familiar to your pets. As a result, they can become disoriented. Therefore, keep them close by so they don’t wander off and get lost. Also, beware of debris, downed power lines, and anything else that could pose a risk to your furry friends. And, don’t let them eat or drink anything that may be contaminated. Lastly, watch for behavioral problems. Just as natural disasters are upsetting for humans, they can be just as upsetting for our pets. If they begin behaving aggressively or defensively, it may be a good idea to give your vet a call.


Don’t wait until disaster strikes to come up with a plan. Follow the tips on this list and be prepared now! Your pets will thank you. Thanks for reading, and be safe!