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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Protecting Your Pets

When you prepare for a disaster, remember to prepare to take care of the whole family – including your pets.  Does your family’s emergency plan take into account key questions, like how you will find your pet if it gets lost; how to make sure that your pet has the food, water and medicines it needs to stay healthy; and what you would do if you need to evacuate quickly.  There are a few things you can do now to make sure that you have good answers to these questions so you can keep everybody safe in a disaster.

  • Get your Pet Microchipped:  Microchipping your pet can help you find your pet if something happens during a disaster.  Remember, disasters can strike at any time.  If homes and other buildings are destroyed, pets may roam. Microchipping a pet is pretty inexpensive and helps reunite you and your pets after an event. But microchipping is only a small piece of a pet preparedness plan.
  • Make a Grab and Go Kit:  Sometimes, you don’t have much notice before you and your pet need to evacuate.  Although some other aspects of a kit are obvious (like including a water dish, food, vaccination records and a leash), sometimes it’s hard to think of what else should be part of your pet preparedness kit and what else you need to plan for. Luckily, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has a great emergency supplies and traveling kits checklist to help you out.
  • Make a Comprehensive Plan:  The American Veterinary Medical Association has put together a comprehensive planning guide to help you plan for other aspects of a disaster, like what you can do in case you aren’t home, what veterinary records you need to have handy, and important emergency contacts. And remember, many emergency shelters can’t accommodate pets, so have a plan ready. Contact your local emergency management office, animal shelter, or animal control office to learn about the options available in your area. For more information on finding shelter for your pets during an emergency, see FEMA’s planning tips for sheltering your pet
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out:  Remember, the basic principles of food safety apply to your pet's food too.  Pet food can become contaminated by floodwaters and other issues that are common in a disaster.  If you think that pet food has become contaminated, throw it out.  Remember to be careful when handling pet food and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling any food that may have become contaminated.
  • Boil Drinking Water for Pets during a Boil Water Advisory: Pets can get some of the same diseases as people. It is a good idea to give them boiled water that has been cooled if your area is under a boil water advisory.
  • Diseases Pets Can T​ransmit to People:​  Natural disasters can contribute to the transmission of some diseases​. Exposure to inclement weather conditions, stagnant water, wildlife or unfamiliar animals, and overcrowding can put your pet at risk for getting sick. Some of these illnesses can be transmitted to people.  Be sure to keep your pets up to date on their vaccinations - many of these diseases are vaccine-preventable.
By taking these simple steps now, you can have the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve prepared to keep your furry, feathered or scaly friends safe in an emergency.

  • This page last reviewed: October 17, 2018