Emergency preparedness: Is your pet prepared for the next disaster?

By Renee Bossart/American Red Cross of Alaska

Do you have an emergency plan and kit for your pet when a disaster strikes? We love our pets and want them to be safe, so when updating or creating an emergency supply kit, remember to create one for your pets, too! It will be one less thing to do during a stressful time.

Alaskans know it is essential to have emergency supplies for their families. Many of us have faced disasters, and some of us have even had to leave our homes during one. Having emergency kits that we can load and go reduces the time it takes to leave our homes during a disaster, and we’re a little more comfortable knowing we are ready to go if we need to. If you have to leave your home, most likely, your pet needs to go, too. Have you thought of everything you need to take for your pet?

Extra food, water and bowls: Have a supply of food on hand – enough to get you through a couple of days until you can get more. If you end up using donated food that is a different brand, you can introduce the new brand of food by mixing it with the remaining pet food from your emergency kit. They will also need water, so be sure to include pet drinking water when you are storing water away for the family. Don’t forget to pack extra bowls for food and water, too.

animal shelter 1
Photo by Connie Black/American Red Cross of Alaska

Extra leash, tie-downs and collar with tags: Be sure to bring an extra leash, collar and tie-downs to secure your dog or other pets during an emergency.

shelter 15 redcross
Photo by Ralph Radford/American Red Cross of Alaska

Litter, litter box and plastic disposal bags: Consider your pet’s toileting needs. If your pet uses a litter box, be sure to include a box and extra litter, or if your pet toilets outside, bring their leash and bags to pick up their waste with.

Veterinarian records and prescriptions: Vaccination and veterinarian records should be kept with your other essential documents, but consider saving a copy of their current shots and rabies vaccine in their kit. Also, have the name of the veterinarian and their contact information in case you need to get emergency help and retrieve more information. If your pet was prescribed medication for the long term, ask your veterinarian for an extra prescription of it so you can add it to your pet’s emergency supply kit.

Texas Floods 2019

Pet identification: Register, license, and microchip your pets with the appropriate organizations. Keep their tags on their collars and the information updated. Make sure they wear their rabies tag, a tag with your contact information, and consider including their microchip tag. Stress can be high for everyone involved during a disaster, including our animals. If they choose to run away, these items will assist in reuniting you with your pets quickly.

Pet kennels, crates and toys: Kennels and crates are the safest way to transport your pets, even inside of a vehicle. These can also provide your animal with a measure of comfort when everything around them is changing. Kennels can be a safe and private space for your pet during a difficult time. Putting a blanket and durable toy inside can help them feel at home. Another comfort item you can add is something that smells like you. If you wear perfume or cologne every day, you can spray that scent on a stuffed toy or their blanket, or give them a piece of your clothing. These are especially helpful if you have to be away from them for a length of time.

Hurricane Harvey 2017

Hurricane Harvey 2017

Pet-friendly hotels and pet sitters: Keep a list of hotels that allow pets to stay, as well as a list of family or friends that are willing to care for your pet if you are unable to for any reason.

Animal shelter: During a disaster check with your local shelter to see what services they are offering. They may have food donations and pet accessories available or may be able to fulfill other needs that your pet may have. If you are separated from your pet during a disaster, be sure to contact the animal shelter. Animal Control and other animal welfare groups work hard to get pets out of danger and will take them to the animal shelter to wait for their owners.

If you need to go to a Red Cross shelter, service animals are welcome. Please bring your own crate, pet supplies, pet medications and food, when possible. While Red Cross shelters only allow service animals to stay inside with their handlers, the Red Cross works with local animal welfare groups to ensure that shelter residents and others in the community have a safe place nearby to take pets during a disaster.

Hurricane Florence 2018

American Red Cross Pet First Aid App: To help you remember all of these details, the American Red Cross has a free mobile phone app called Pet First Aid. It offers critical first aid information for your pet. You can also build a profile for each of your pets with their photo, program your veterinarian’s contact information, find pet-friendly hotels, and get more tips for making your pet’s emergency supply kit.


We love our pets like family, so let’s prepare them for an emergency as we do with our own family. Think about what your pet would want and need if they had to stay outside of your home for a few days. That way, if disaster does hit, everyone in your family is ready for it.

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