Disaster Plans For Pets


It’s that time year again when Dorothy, Toto and Auntie Em head for the hills to find safe shelter. But this is no laughing matter when it comes to being prepared for you, your family and you pets, in the event of a hurricane, tornado, flooding or other natural and man-made disasters. It is best to anticipate that eventually we may all be in a disaster situation and we need to have a plan.

The ASPCA has a plan already designed for you and your pet. Leaving your pets behind is one of the worst ideas because it’s not safe for you and it’s not safe for your pets either. While dropping your pets off at the local shelter may sound like a good idea it really is not because few except pets while waiting for a large storm to end.

Here are some major planning recommendations from the ASPCA:

  • Get a rescue alert sticker that has important information about your pets and their veterinarian
  • Arrange a Safe Haven to include local shelter or boarding facilities and motels or hotels that allow pets
  • Have emergency supplies and travel kits ready to go – a list is on the ASPCA site
  • Choose “designated caregivers” for your pets that include individuals that are home when you are at work or away
  • Prepare and practice your evacuation plan that includes your pets
  • Give consideration to rooms or cellars that you might evacuate too and make sure they are ready and stocked with items you will need

There is another more common problem from storms that last only a short time but can have a large impact on our pets.   Passing storms can cause our pets large amounts of anxiety.  “Pets with storm anxiety may have a variety of signs, but there’s no mistaking the discomfort they are experiencing”, said veterinarian Dr. David Visser of the Rosland Animal Hospital in South Bend Indiana.  “At this time of year when storms abound, we see pets that injure themselves because of these extreme reactions.”

According to Dr. Visser, here are some of the signs these pets typically show:

  • The vibration of thunder causes some pets to hide, pace around the room or just stand panicked while having tremors.
  • Others sense a storm approaching and begin to whine or bark excessively.
  • Thunder, lightning and torrential downpours affect the deep foundations of a pet’s comfort and can cause drooling, nausea or interfere with appetite.
  • Some are so disturbed that they react with aggression or unpredictable attacks on other animals or people in the house.
  • In severe cases, storm fears and anxiety can cause pets to chew and destroy furniture, tear down drapes and even thrust themselves through plate-glass windows.

Dr. Visser notes that there are other ways to help your pets with anxiety issues. There are ways to help your pets with their anxiety by slowly getting your pet used to storm. You can introduce the sound and affects of flashing light over time so you’re pet can get “more comfortable” with storms. You should talk to your Vet as well to see how to administer this type of therapy or your Vet may suggest using calming medications or herbal supplements.

By recognizing that storms and disasters happen we are becoming better prepared to function during these situations. Being prepared is the right thing to do for you, your family and your pets and it may just save a life.