Whenever there is a hurricane, tornado, forest fire, earthquake or other natural disaster, the last thing you want to do is search for a pet‐friendly place to take shelter or gather your pet's necessary items. Over 280 natural disasters were reported around the world in 20181 – don't wait for one to strike! Protect your pet by preparing ahead of time with these tips.

Have a Plan

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a natural disaster is to have a plan. Create a checklist of the items you may need and keep your pet's emergency information in an easy to find location, like a wallet or purse. In the event your pet ever goes missing, you'll have all their information in one place. If you need inspiration for what to include in your checklist and wallet card, check out this Pet Disaster and Safety Checklist from the American Red Cross.

Additionally, make sure to gather any of your pet's medical papers and a list of their vaccinations. If your pet is injured, it's helpful to have these papers, especially if you're unable to see your primary veterinarian. Before a disaster strikes, it may also be useful to practice putting your pet in their carrier and running through a full evacuation with your family – including your furry friend! That way, if an evacuation is needed, your family is already familiar with your plan.

Find a Place to Take Shelter

Before any disaster heads your way, identify local evacuation shelters for yourself and your pet. VCA Animal Hospitals offer pet healthcare services across the country – including free pet boarding during natural disasters.

Create a Pet Emergency Kit

Keeping a kit stocked and ready will allow you to evacuate quickly without forgetting any of your pet's important things.

Some items to include:

  • Prescriptions
  • Toys or comfort items
  • Any veterinarian prescribed medications to help keep them relaxed in stressful situations
  • Collar with updated tags
  • Leashes
  • List of hotels that are pet-friendly
  • Food, water and treats
  • Water and food bowls
  • Doggy bags
  • List of their prescriptions/medications
  • A copy of their medical history and vaccinations

Know Where to Go in Case of an Injury

Despite preparation, accidents can still occur, and pets can get injured during the chaos. Before a natural disaster, research the closest local veterinary clinic to your home. If your pet takes any medication, don't wait until you are almost out of their prescription. Try keeping at least two weeks' worth on hand in case veterinary offices or pharmacies are closed.

Have Your Pets Microchipped

Microchipping is vital to a pet's safety during a natural disaster as they can get hurt, collars can get lost or their appearance can be altered in various ways. A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at various animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time2. By microchipping and registering with HomeAgain®, your pets can be easily identified and reunited with your family if you are ever separated during a natural disaster.