How to make an emergency plan that includes your pet

A fluffy multicolored dog in a harness and leash

Severe weather can hit without much warning, especially during the spring and summer months. Here in Minnesota, tornadoes are most likely to occur during the month of June, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources but can occur anytime between March and December. 

It’s one of the reasons why Animal Humane Society recommends having an emergency plan that includes your pet. As a good rule of thumb, AHS Behavior and Training Manager Alison Schramel says if it’s not safe for you to stay in your home, it’s not safe for your pet. 

Schramel says severe weather is just one of the most common emergencies pet parents should prepare for, others include house fires, evacuations, car accidents especially during the cold and hot months of the year, medical emergencies, and even travel delays if your pet isn’t with you.  

How do pet parents prepare?

The first thing pet parents should do is think through some of the most common emergency situations. Determine what you would need to leave in a hurry and who you would need to notify if any of these circumstances happen. 

Also, where would your pet go? It’s important to remember that pets aren’t allowed everywhere, and if you need to stay in a hotel or shelter you may need to find an alternative place for your pet. 

It's a great idea to have an emergency contact person for your pet just like you would for yourself or your children. Having a family member or a friend who knows your pet well, including any of their medical or behavioral needs is ideal. It should also be someone that your pet knows and is comfortable around.  

Do you know pet first aid?

Learn basic first aid and signs of a medical emergency in your pet to make sure you're prepared. 

Create a pet "to go" kit

Here are some items you’ll want to set aside for your pet in case of an emergency. 

  • Food & water 
  • Portable dishes 
  • Litter box & litter  
  • Poop bags 
  • Leashes & kennel  
  • Medications  
  • First aid supplies 

Consider adding these supplies to your car as well!  

It’s also a good idea to have the portion of your pet’s food and medications written out in advance, and label everything with your pet’s information. 

Pro-tip: Make sure your pet has a collar and tag on with their name and up-to-date phone number in case you do get separated from your pet. It's also a great idea to know where the closest emergency vet is located for both where you live and where you are traveling with your pet.   

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