It is never too late to begin thinking about how to better prepare your loved ones, including your pets, for an emergency. There are a lot of great resources on-line to gather safety information on how to be better prepared. Here is a list of helpful tips to be better prepared for your pets:

1. Identify a Shelter: Before a disaster hits, call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and that there will be shelters that will take people and their pets in your area. Remember most veterinarians, kennels, and animal hospitals will need your pet’s medical records to verify vaccinations are current. Seeking additional pet-friendly places is also a good idea as shelters could fill up quickly.

2. Pack A Pet Kit: Take pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records, cat litter/pan, manual can opener, food dishes, first aid kit and other supplies in case they are not available later. Each pet is unique, but each pet needs the basics in the case of an emergency. Remember to rotate these items around from where you have them stored; using them before they expire and replacing them with new.

3. Update Your Pet’s ID: Make sure identification tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet’s collar. If possible, attach the address &/or phone number of your evacuation site as an added precaution. Another EXCELLENT source for ID is to have your pet microchipped. Most veterinary facilities do this procedure for a minimal cost and it will keep you that much closer to your finding your pet.

4. Protect Your Pet During a Disaster: An animal’s behavior can change with a severe weather change. Some will often isolate themselves when they are afraid and others may run. Bringing them inside early can calm them and stop them from running away. Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. Understanding what to expect during a disaster is crucial.

5. Keep an Eye on your Pet after an Emergency: The behavior of your pet may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. When returning your dog to the yard, make sure he has access to shelter and fresh water. Familiar scents and landmarks may be affected and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, make sure your fence is secure and your pet is safe from any harm. Remember to keep taking care of them even after the disaster has past.

Any type of disaster can be a stressful situation for everyone, but planning and being prepared will help keep you calm so that you can care for those you love.

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Other information you may find helpful (from Expertise.com) on pet safety, which includes chapters on common household hazards, food safety, pet-proofing, and natural disaster safety, follow the link below: