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Pet Disaster Preparedness

Learn how to prepare your pets for an emergency evacuation and help them recover afterward.

In an emergency, your pets will be even more dependent on you for their safety and well-being. Your family’s disaster plans must include your furry family members too. Learn what to do to keep your beloved pets safe!

This guide is primarily about dogs and cats. For tips on disaster planning for livestock, horses, birds, reptiles, or small animals such as gerbils and hamsters, please visit The Humane Society of the United States or Ready.gov.

Top Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe During a Disaster

  1. 1.

    If it’s not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, it’s not safe for them either!

  2. 2.

    Include supplies for your pet in your emergency kit, or assemble an emergency kit for your pet.

  3. 3.

    Make an evacuation plan for you and your pets. Many hotels and shelters do not accept animal guests, other than service animals.

Assemble an Emergency Kit for Your Pet


Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers so that they can be carried easily.

Your kit should include:

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if you pet eats canned food.
  • Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
  • Create an Emergency Plan for Your Pet


    The best way to protect your household from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan must include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.

    Know a Safe Place to Take Your Pets

    If you have to evacuate your home during a disaster, the best way to protect your pets is to evacuate them too. If it's not safe for you to stay behind then it's not safe to leave pets behind either.

  • Know which hotels and motels along your evacuation route will accept pets in an emergency. Call ahead for reservations if you know you may need to evacuate. Ask if no pet policies could be waived in an emergency.
  • Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters.
  • Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency. Prepare a list with phone numbers.
  • Although your animals may be more comfortable together, be prepared to house them separately.
  • Include your pets in evacuation drills so that they become used to entering and traveling in their carriers calmly.
  • Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are current and that all dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations to reduce the spread of disease.
  • Consider having your pet “microchipped” by your veterinarian.
  • Read more about our safety tips for traveling with your pet.
  • ASPCA pet safety sticker
    Help Emergency Workers Find Your Pets

    The ASPCA recommends using a rescue sticker alert to let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes the types and number of pets in your household and your veterinarian's phone number.

    If you must evacuate with your pets (and if time allows) write "EVACUATED" across the stickers so rescue workers don’t waste time looking for them.

    Help Pets Recover After an Emergency


    Your pet’s behavior may change dramatically after a disaster, becoming aggressive or defensive. Be aware of their well being and protect them from hazards to ensure the safety of other people and animals.
  • Watch your animals closely and keep them under your direct control as fences and gates may have been damaged.
  • Pets may become disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their home.
  • Be aware of hazards at nose and paw or hoof level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers and other substances that might not seem to be dangerous to humans.
  • Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.
  • mobile apps pet safety icon
    Download the Pet First Aid App

    Get critical first aid info for your pet at your fingertips.

    Find it in the Apple App Store, Google Play, or Amazon Marketplace

    Donate Now to Disaster Relief

    Help people affected by disasters big and small.

    $10.00 is the minimum online donation amount. All donations are tax deductible.