08 September 2011

Prep30: Some basic preps for your pets

By now in this series of Prep30 posts, you should have some basic preparedness plans and supplies for your family, including a basic emergency kit for each member of your family. This post will cover putting together an emergency kit for your pets. This list focuses mostly on dogs and cats, but much of it is applicable to other pets too:
  1. Have a leash and collar handy. We keep the vaccination and identification tags on our pet's collar, and they wear the collar at all times. If you can't do this for your dog (or choose not to), then keep the collar and tags in your pet's emergency kit. I recommend keeping a spare leash in the kit too, and perhaps a harness too. It's best to have a simple fixed-length leash, rather than the retractable kinds.

  2. If appropriate, have a pet carrier ready. You could even keep your pet emergency kit inside the carrier, for example, in a zippable bag or duffel.

  3. Like us, pets need plenty of water too. Generally, experts recommend a daily allotment of 1/2 to 1 ounce of water per pound that the dog weighs. Therefore, a 15-pound dog or cat would require about 8–15 ounces of water, while a 100-pound dog would require 50–100 ounces of water. That said, I recommend "rounding up" the amount, just as is recommended for humans (i.e.,recommended daily intake for humans is 64 ounces, but 128 ounces [1 gallon] is the amount recommended for preparedness storage). Remember that you should plan on 72 hours of water for each pet.

  4. Of course, you should have a 3 days supply of your pet's regular food stored in your kit. For those using canned food, just set aside the corresponding amount. Using dry food can be a little trickier. After calculating the amount you'll need for 72 hours, try to buy a bag close to that amount. Alternatively, if you can find single-serve sample packs of food (we have a nearby store that gives them away), then you might be able to get enough that way. Otherwise, I suggest packaging a meal's worth of food in separate resealable plastic storage bags and storing it that way. The down side to this latter approach is that you'll likely need to rotate that food out of the emergency kit every month.

  5. It's easy to overlook, so don't forget to have some bowls for your pet's food and water. It's a good idea to have a spare set in your kit. Consider ordering and using some collapsible pet bowls.

  6. Have copies of your pet's immunizations and vet records in the kit. Be sure to keep both the vaccinations and records updated.

  7. Keep a photo of your pet with their identification, and a photo of you with your pet. This provides a record of your connection, in case you get separated. You may want to consider having your pet microchipped. If you do, keep the related contact information with the photos and other pet paperwork.

  8. If you have to evacuate, figure out where you're likely to go. Then, find pet-friendly hotels, veterinarians, and any friends/family near that location. In the kit, keep a list with all of the necessary addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, etc.

  9. If your pet needs any medications, keep a 3-day supply in the emergency kit.

  10. Have a first aid kit geared toward your pet. (If space is an issue, adding things like styptic powder and/or the appropriate nail clippers to your regular first aid kit can make it do double duty.) Don't forget to have a good first aid reference manual for your specific type of pet. There are many pet first aid books available on Amazon.com; I've used the American Red Cross' Pet First Aid: Cats & Dogs since it first came out, and it's a very useful book. It doesn't replace a qualified veterinarian, of course, but it will definitely help in an emergency.

  11. Put at least two or three extra toys in the kit to help keep your pet occupied.

  12. Keep an adequate supply of sanitation bags in the kit to clean up your pet's messes when they happen.

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