What do you do when a storm is approaching and you’re in its path?
Unfortunately, our pets are usually the last thing we think about during such a hectic time. But it’s important that you have a plan of action to keep your pet safe and secure too.
Whether you’re participating in a forced evacuation or you’re just battening down the hatches in case the storm is worse than the weather forecasters are predicting, here are some things you should do to make sure your dog has everything he needs to make it through the worst of times should things get crazy after the storm.
Think: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or any weather event that might be cause for evacuation from your home — and that means you need to pack an evacuation kit for your dog as well!
I’ve actually been through this procedure with my dogs… a couple times!
I’ve fine-tuned this process through the years, and you can bet our dog is no longer the last thing we think about when a storm is approaching.
These days, I make a point to gather the dog’s necessities, in addition to our own, whenever we’re preparing for a really bad storm.
Even if you’re not officially evacuating, you never know when you when you might need to seek shelter somewhere else at the last minute. Or, you may even have to stay in a public shelter temporarily if the storm wreaks havoc on your entire neighborhood.
Just keep one thing in mind for yourself and your dog: pack light!
What To Pack For Your Dog
Any time there is a bad storm approaching, here are the items you will want to gather up and pack for your dog, in case you need to get out of the house in a hurry.
- Dog collar — first and foremost, your dog should be wearing a dog collar — and it should have ID tags attached. That way, people will know how to contact you, should you get separated from your dog.
- Dog leash — I prefer a retractable leash, because you might need to keep your dog’s leash in one hand while you’re packing or loading with the other — and you don’t want the dog immediately underfoot. A retractable leash gives you this leeway.
- Dog food — Take a small container of your dog’s food — ideally, enough to get him through a week. I realize if you have more than one dog, this could mean a lot of food, so just pack up as much as you can feasibly transport. I our case, I just grab the Rubbermaid cereal container that we store the dog’s weekly food rations in. Food bowls aren’t a necessity, as a dog can eat food right out of the container. Bowls are just too bulky and take up too much valuable space.
- Doggie meds — If your dog has any prescription medications, be sure to pack ’em up! And if you’ve purchased a year’s worth of those expensive flea & tick meds or heartworm pills, then by all means, stuff those in there too.
- Dog treats — Snacks that your dog is crazy about might be the only way to calm or otherwise distract your dog during the hectic times that could arise (like in a shelter). You just need a small plastic container full, or a zipper-type bag’s worth.
- Water — Just as they encourage people to stock up on water, you’ll want to include your dog in the water count. You may want to just fill up some old water bottles with water from the tap for your dog, or fill up an old milk jug. Don’t worry about a water bowl… any lid, container, or even a zipper-type plastic bag can serve as a water bowl for your dog in an emergency. (Remember, you’re packing light!)
- Vaccination records — This paperwork could be the difference between your dog being allowed in a shelter with you or not. And if public transportation is available (say, during an evacuation), chances are your dog will not be allowed on board unless you have their vaccination records, including proof of rabies shots.
- Favorite toy — Just one (okay, maybe two tops). Again, we’re packing light. However, your dog will do better in chaotic circumstances if he has some things nearby that he’s familiar with. Your dog’s favorite toy is a given.
- Sheet or blanket — You don’t want anything bulky, just an old sheet or thin blanket for your dog to cuddle up in and sleep comfortably. This may serve as your dog’s bed for days… or weeks. Chances are, the dog pillow or bed that your dog is currently using is too big for a time like this. Use your best judgment.
- Crate or kennel — This may be a luxury item of sorts, simply for the fact that space is usually an issue. Particularly if you have a big dog, then you probably won’t have the space (or ability) to lug around a big dog crate. That said, it is truly in your dog’s best interest include a crate on your list of “things to pack”, and let the circumstances of the moment determine whether you can actually take it along or not. If you have a small dog, a crate is almost mandatory. Small dogs will need a way to feel safe & secure in strange surroundings. And even though you think you’ll just hold your dog in your arms the whole time, this isn’t practical. Your arms will be needed for other tasks in times of crisis, so be realistic: Pack a little crate for your little dog.
- Odds & ends — I usually put some wet wipes in a zipper-type bag, as well. These are great for wiping muddy paws, or keeping our own hands & faces clean on the go. And Neosporin, too. It works on dogs just as it does on humans. If your dog steps on a nail, or glass or something, a little Neosporin can help heal the small hurts.
Now, just toss everything into an oversized duffel bag, an old suitcase, or plain ‘ol plastic garbage bags. (Zipper-type plastic bags are great for keeping individual items separated, as well as keeping things fresh and dry!)
Whatever you do, please don’t forget about your dog during the hustle and bustle of preparing yourself, your family, and your home for the approaching storm!
Here’s a great disaster brochure for pet owners from the humane society!
See how being prepared in a natural disaster could save your dog’s life.