Save your Pet's Life!
Protecting a Dog
in an Emergency
These precautions may just save your pets lives
An emergency, attack, or natural disaster can happen at
anytime without warning. During these tension filled times,
service dog and pet owners have become aware of the need to
make arrangements for their pets as part of their
household disaster plan.
It is preferable to take your pets with you if you must evacuate
your home. However most emergency public shelters do
not accept pets due to health and safety codes. By law however,
they are required to accept service animals.
If you must leave your pets behind, it is essential that
you have a plan for their care. If you must leave the immediate
area following an emergency, take your pets with you.
They may not survive if you have to
be gone for an extended period of time.
Prior to an Emergency
There are many ways to prepare for an emergency. You need to
gather and compile information, determine safe rooms in your
home, purchase necessary first aid and emergency supplies,
train your dog to live indoors, and other precautions to
take to ensure that your pet's safety.
Gather and Compile Information
1. Create a Pet Disaster Planning file and store all of the
following information within
2. Contact your local animal shelter and humane society to
determine if there is any local designated emergency pet
shelters. The animal shelter and humane society also provides
public service information on caring for pets during an emergency.
3. Contact your veterinarian's office to inquire whether or not
they provide shelter for their patients in an emergency.
4. Contact motels and hotels in communities outside of your area
to determine if they accept pets in an emergency.
5. Service dog owners should call their local emergency planning
office to determine what they need to gain access to a shelter.
6. Start a buddy system with a neighbor to check on each other's
animals during a disaster if you aren't home. Exchange
information on veterinarians and sign a permission slip at
the veterinarian's office that authorizes your buddy to get
necessary emergency treatment for your pet in case you
can't be reached.
Give your pet sitter a copy of your disaster plan to
use to care for your animals in your absence.
7. If your pet is on medication, ask your veterinarian what to do
if you are separated from your pet for a few days.
8. Take several pictures of all the animals in your household.
Write on the back of the pictures any distinguishing marks
that would help identify your pet. Store the pictures along
with copies of all vaccination records in a sealed plastic
bag in your file.
9. Determine safe locations in your house where you could
leave your pet in an emergency. Rooms that are easy to clean
and that have access to water such as bathrooms and laundry
rooms are recommended. It is preferable that these rooms
have no heavy pictures on the walls or windows and there
should be a counter top or table upon which your pet can
climb if there is flooding. If you have both cats and dogs,
determine separate rooms for each.
First Aid Kit
A fully equipped household first aid kit contains almost all of the
supplies you may need for service dogs and pets. First aid
supplies should remain in a waterproof container (Rubbermaid and
Tupperware have some great ones).
First aid kits should contain:
" Latex or non-latex surgical gloves
" Gauze sponges in a variety of sizes
" Cleansing agent (soap and antibiotic towelettes)
" Roll gauze in 2-inch width
" Roll bandages (gauze wrap that stretches and clings)
" Materials to make a splint (i.e. pieces of wood, newspaper,
cloth and sticks)
" Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
" Non-adherent sterile pads for wound dressings
" Small scissors
" Metal tweezers
" Grooming clippers or a safety razor
" Leash and buckle collar with identification tags
" Muzzle or a Gentle Leader. The behavior of your pets may change
in an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive
or defensive. (Muzzles can be improvised out of roll gauze if
necessary. Use either a long piece of strong flexible cloth or towel, a belt,
rope, or any other material that will hold the dog's mouth closed. Put the
material over the dog's muzzle, drop it underneath, criss-cross
it, bring it behind the head and tie it). "Cloth that can be placed
inside a muzzle to protect your dog from inhaling dangerous particles
in the air.
" Compact thermal blanket
" Pediatric rectal thermometer (Normal temperature for dogs is
-102.8 F. Normal temperature for cats is 100.5 - 102.5)
" Petroleum jelly or lubricant for the thermometer
" Water based sterile lubricant (sterile waterless hand wash)
" *Hydrogen Peroxide (has expiration date - replace periodically)
" Rubbing alcohol
" Topical antibiotic ointment
" Burn ointment
" Syrup of Ipecac and activated charcoal to induce vomiting in
" Epsom salts
" Baby syringe or eye dropper (plastic)
" Sterile eye lubricant
" Sterile saline eye wash
" *Diphenhydramine (small and medium sized dogs would use the
child's dosage). Check with your veterinarian prior to administering to
your dog. This drug works will for allergic reactions to insect bites. It
also has a mildly tranquilizing effect. Never administer this drug to
cats. This drug has an expiration date so replace it periodically.
" *Buffered aspirin (check with your veterinarian before
administering to your dog. Never give aspirin to a cat. Replace periodically.
" *Any medications your pet takes. Replace periodically.
" Resealable plastic bags
" Glucose paste or corn syrup (rub on pet's gums when
experiencing low blood sugar levels)
" High energy treats
" Styptic pencil or powder
" Expired credit card to scrape away stingers
" List of emergency telephone numbers:
o Emergency Veterinarian Hospital
o National Animal Poison Control Center (800-548-2423 or
" Clean cloths
" Needle nose pliers or hemostats
" Empty 24 oz. Water bottle (cut the bottle with a razor about ¾
of the way up from the bottom. This can be used to provide artificial
respiration to animals. Place the nozzle of the bottle in your
mouth and the open bottom of the bottle over the animals face and
breathe into it).
Much of the information in this section came from Pet First Aid
by Bobbie Mammoto, D.V.M., MPA. This reference book is used in the Pet
First Aid class offered by the American Red Cross. I advise all service dog
and pet owners to take the Red Cross class or buy an educational pet
first aid video.
*Designate a quarterly date and mark in your calendar to refresh
the drugs in the Pet First Aid Kit.
There are many supplies that service dog and pet owners should
always keep accessible. Your pet must become familiar with some of these
supplies and be trained to use them (i.e. booties, dog litter,
" Pet carrier with room for your pet to stand up and turn around
inside. Train your pet to feel comfortable in the carrier by placing
favorite toys or treats and a comfortable bedding inside.
" Extra 30-day supply of medicines
" An identification tag with your phone number and the phone
number of your family's emergency contact person.
" A buckle collar and a long leash that can be tied around your
waist if you need your hands free.
" Dog booties. Your dog must be trained to tolerate wearing
shoes. Work with your pet until there is a level of comfort. Use praise and
treats to help your dog adjust.
" Pet life jacket
" Harness for smaller dogs
" Extra dry food stored in sturdy containers. Replace the food
" Large capacity self-feeder and water dispenser (one week
" One gallon of water per dog per day. One-half gallon of water
per cat per day. Keep a minimum of a one week supply stored in an air
" Kitty litter
" Doggy litter and a plastic children's pool (train your dog to
eliminate in the pool. If, for any reason, you cannot put your dog out,
they will be comfortable using the litter.
" Chew toy
" Can opener
" Plastic grocery store bags for waste
" Dog backpack filled with essential supplies
" Service dog vest
During an Emergency
At the first sign of an emergency, there are many safety
precautions you can take immediately. These precautions may just save
your pets lives.
" Bring your pets inside immediately! When feeling threatened,
animals operate on instincts in emergencies. They often isolate
themselves when they are afraid. Bringing pets inside immediately
prevents them from running away.
Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.
" Fill bathtubs and sinks with water
" Retrieve your Pet Emergency Disaster Plan file and your first
" If you evacuate and must leave your pet at home, prepare a safe
location for it. Leave familiar items such as the pet's normal bedding
and favorite toys.
Leave a week's supply of food and water in pet's reach. If
possible, open a faucet slightly and let the water drip into a big container.
Large dogs may be able to obtain fresh water from a partially filled
Separate dogs and cats and keep smaller pets away from them both.
Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an
emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. Freshen
litter for both dogs and cats.
" Replace a chain link "choker" collar with a leather or nylon
collar. Make sure the collar has current tags and identification.
" If you evacuate and plan to take your pets, remember to bring
your pet's medical records and medicines with your emergency supplies.
" Never remove your pet's leash during an emergency. The waist
clip leashes are very useful because they your hands free.
After the Disaster
There is always a great deal of chaos following a disaster. Your
pets will experience anxiety and fear as a result. Do not assume that
they will behave as they ordinarily do. Fear induces protective
Speak calmly to your pets. Breathe deeply and slowly to relax.
Massage and gently stroke your pet. Your energy is contagious so infect
your pets with calm rather than anxiety.
If you have to leave the immediate area, take your pets with you.
Pets are unlikely to survive on their own for an extended period. Keep
your pets close to you and on a leash always maintaining close
physical contact. When familiar scents and landmarks are gone your pet may
become confused and lost, be confronted with snakes and other dangerous
animals, or be exposed to downed power lines.
After the disaster, remain calm and reassuring. Give your pets
time to recover from the shock and the trauma. If you see signs of
stress, contact your veterinarian immediately.
(If your pet is under Stress, check out our Natural Stress
Reliever in the Pet Directory Below)
Pet Emergency Tips
If the face is red, raise the head (when pet is overheated). If
the face is pale, raise the tail (when pet is clammy or in shock).
Always keep a leash in the car Common poisonous substances:
Bird of paradise, Poinsettias, green part of
tomato plants, honey, insecticides, and antifreeze.
When bandaging a wound, always wrap toward the heart. Put the
knot of the bandage on top of the wound. Leave a "tail" on the bandage. As
you begin to wrap, hold back approximately six inches of the bandage so
there is a tail where the bandage starts. This aids in removing the bandage.
Learn healing touch for animals techniques (i.e. acupressure,
energy healing). An example of an effective acupressure technique is to
place your thumb on the inner side of its ear and your other fingers on
the outer side. Starting at the base of ear, using medium pressure,
rub your fingers down the ear. There are acupressure points in the ears
that, with proper manipulation, can prevent an animal from going into shock.
Being prepared may save your service dog's or pet's life. It is
important to learn about pet first aid. There are classes through the Red
Cross, videos, and books available to teach you lifesaving skills.
Remember your animals look to you to be their guides. Remain calm, breathe
deeply, speak softly, and stay in control. Your animals will be more
cooperative when they sense that they will be safe with you.
How you can Lengthen your Dog's