Emergency Preparedness for the High Needs Pet
As a family it is important to have a plan in place should you face an emergency. Where would your family go in the event of a hurricane in the northern Atlantic? Do you have supplies to weather a major blizzard? In the event of major flooding or a tornado what would you do?
When making these plans it is important to take our pets into consideration as well. This can become particularly important for those pets who have special medical needs or need extra care.
When it comes to emergency preparedness for the high needs pet, Veterinary Oncology Services and Research Center is happy to make some suggestions to get you started building a successful game plan.
Preparation is Key
When thinking about any emergency, being prepared is the biggest hurdle. For any family or pet, certain things are a must.
Consider putting together an evacuation bag and/or home supply kit so that all of your pet’s basic needs are accommodated in one convenient location. Be sure to include things like:
● A carrier of some kind (a pillowcase can work in a pinch)
● Extra leash and collar
● Food (particularly important if your pet has special dietary needs, rotate often to keep fresh)
● Clean water
● Litter and box for cats
● A supply of any medications your pet may need (at least one week’s worth)
● A small pet first aid kit
● Any other supplies that may be needed for proper care of your pet
· Oral Chemotherapy Drugs
· Metronomic – Oral Drugs
· Preventative anti-nausea medications
· Antibiotics if needed
· VOSRC emergency numbers
· Recent VOSRC discharge papers
It is also important to keep copies of your pet’s medical records in this kit. Should you need to seek care somewhere other than your normal veterinarian, this information can be essential in being sure that your pet receives the appropriate care.
These records should include chronological visit information and any lab results that you have available. Consider uploading this information on a flash drive to send with your pet should he or she need to be taken into a protective shelter.
Creating an Action Plan
Emergency preparedness for the high needs pet involves having an action plan in place. Knowing how you need to proceed in a situation can take a lot of stress and worry off your plate.
Besides having a current list of medications, recent test results, diagnoses, you will want to have a contact list in place of various animal hospitals, specialty centers, boarding facilities willing to administer medications, and pet-friendly hotels.
Try to include areas outside of your home area that you might flee or evacuate to in the event of a disaster. This may include the homes of family members or friends.
Think through the following scenarios and what you might do:
● If you need to evacuate your home with your pet
● If you need to evacuate and cannot bring your pet
● If you were unable to continue care of your pet and someone else needed to do so
● If you and your pet were homebound for a period of time
● If your home area is evacuated while you are not home
Thinking through what your plan would be in each of these situations will help to identify items you may need to obtain, arrangements that you might need to make, and information you may want handy.
It is also helpful to have an understanding of which of your pet’s treatments and medications are essential and which can be delayed. You may, for instance, want to keep a healthy stock of medications to manage your pet’s congestive heart failure in the event of an emergency. Skipping a week or two of a joint supplement, however, is likely no big deal.
You may have questions regarding which treatments and medications are essential and which might be okay to be postponed in extenuating circumstances. If we are treating your pet and you have questions, please call us so that we can discuss a plan.
Emergency Preparedness for the High Needs Pet
Besides being sure that you have all the information and supplies needed to care for your pet or hand off your pet’s care to someone else, there are some basic things that all pet owners need to do to prepare.
Be sure that your pet is properly identified. A well-fitted collar with up to date contact information can be invaluable. If your pet is not already microchipped, consider doing so. If a microchip is already in place, be sure that the associated information is correct. This can be essential in reuniting yourself and your pet should you become separated.
It is also wise to consider keeping a clear, up to date photo of your pet on your person. This can help in search or identification purposes in the event of separation.
In the event of an evacuation, it is always best to leave early voluntarily. Typically as the threat becomes worse, mandatory evacuations are be done in an urgent manner that do not allow you to bring your pets along. Evacuating early also will ensure that your choices of kennels, hotels, or other accommodations are not filled.
An emergency preparedness plan is a foundation of any smart pet owner’s animal care plan. When high-needs pets are involved, though, even more planning and preparation is needed. With some forethought, though, we can be sure that all of our pets are safe and well cared for, no matter the situation.