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Preparing Your Pet for Hurricane Season

Hurricane Palm TreesWith the beginning of summer arriving next week, it’s common knowledge in the southeast that a new hurricane season will soon be upon us … and being prepared is your best course of action. Yesterday we received a tweet asking us for advice on preparing for an emergency evacuation with pets. Here is our response.

Preparing for an emergency that could involve evacuation is not limited to just those in places where hurricanes can hit. Depending on where you live, tornados, flash flooding, wild fires, or other natural or man-made disasters could potentially force you from your home. When your family includes a pet, a little more advance planning is necessary to ensure your whole family is as safe and as comfortable as possible should the circumstances arise.

Traveling dogYour pet should have his own emergency kit and everything should be packed in waterproof containers. Food and water not stored properly could become contaminated, and papers may not be useful if they get wet. Here are some items you should be sure to include in your pet’s kit:

  1. Enough food and water for your pet for at least 2 weeks, stored in waterproof, air-tight containers. If you feed canned food, be sure to pack a can opener.
  2. At least 2 weeks worth of any medication your pet takes. If your pet requires medicine that needs to be refrigerated, be sure to include a cooler and ice packs in your kit.
  3. Proof of vaccination – tags may not be accepted, so include a hard copy of the record from your vet.
  4. An extra collar and leash.
  5. A familiar toy, blanket, or bed that your pet loves and will help him be more comfortable.
  6. Plastic bags to pick up after your dog and/or a litter box and extra litter for your cat.
  7. A photo, in case your pet gets separated from you and you need to make posters.

Hurricane Evacuation SignAs inconvenient as it might be, an evacuation could save the lives of your family and pets. However, you’ll need to confirm in advance that your evacuation plans will accommodate your pet. The first step is to check with your local emergency shelter to see if they allow pets. Most do not, but there are a few out there that will. (Thank you to them!) If your shelter doesn’t allow pets, here are the steps you should take to plan your whole family’s evacuation:

  1. Map out two potential cities that you could evacuate to depending on the predicted path of the weather.
  2. Locate accommodations in each city. If you’re planning to say with family or friends call and ask whether they’ll allow you to bring your pet in case of emergency. If you’ll be staying in a hotel or campground, use a website like GoPetFriendly.com to select a few pet friendly options. Write down their name, address, and phone number so that you’ll be able to call ahead for reservations.
  3. If you have GPS, you can likely count on that to get you there. If you don’t, print driving directions to each hotel or campground and keep them in your emergency kit.
  4. Be sure to secure your pet in your vehicle during travel.
  5. Consider taking a crate or carrier for your pet. It will give them a place where they can relax, and it may be required if you would ever need to leave them unattended in a hotel room.

It just takes a bit of time to make sure your family is safe during an emergency, especially if it requires evacuation. It’s just a few days before summer starts. Can you get your plan in place before then?

We’d love to hear from pet folk who were forced to evacuate from their homes. What emergency kit items did we miss? What travel plans did we overlook? What did you wish you had with you to take better care of your pet?


  • Steve says:

    Thanks for the article.  It’s a good start to incorporating Pets into our family emergency plans.  I think you touched on the basic steps that we all need to take for our pet emergency plan.  However, it would be nice if you could look into doing a follow-up article and touch on some of the special concerns for other types of emergencies (e.g., extreme heat/cold, fire, radiological incident, etc.) Thanks!

  • Elizabeth says:

    This is somewhat OT, but when I am thinking of emergencies here in Central Texas, I think mainly of loss of power. Having Bulldogs and temperatures often around 100, I often worry while I am work about a power failure. Do you know of any way one could be notified if there is a power loss at their home? Seriously, on a hot humid day, several hours without AC could kill them. Seems like there ought to be an app for that!

  • I said this on Facebook that I'm glad I live in an area where our weather is stable. No hurricanes or tornadoes. All we have to worry about here, (Victoria, BC) is the island sliding off into the Pacific Ocean, and I'm not sure how you'd get prepared for that. :/

  • Great advice it will be very useful to make healthy our pets thanks for sharing

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! If you live in an area where hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires are common, I hope you will take the time to put together a kit. One thing I wish I would have said in the post, but noted in my reply to Karen below, is that commercially available kits are not all that useful in that you have to pack the kit with your pet's specific needs (like food and medications) anyway.

  • Since I live in Canada, hurricanes aren't something that we have to deal with. Still, the advice that you have given is useful for ANY emergency. Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks Karen – I think the problem is actually getting people to follow through and get a kit ready (both for their pet and themselves). I understand that people may not want to purchase a commercially available kit – which you would have to stock with your own pet's particulars anyway. We're fortunate in that we're traveling in our house so we already have everything in our dogs' kits with us.

  • michelechollow says:

    Great advice. I used to live in southern Louisiana, so I know first hand how rough hurricane season can be. The noise really scares a lot of animals. I only experienced one minor hurricane there. It was bad in some areas–not mine. After the hurricane so many houses along the bayou were covered in water and the wind picked up trees the size of houses–roots and all.

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