Protecting Your Dog in a Disaster
Are you prepared?
Earth, wind, fire, and water. The four natural elements that are among the most destructive and irrational elements on Earth. Thousands of people are left homeless and injured; thousands are killed in these natural disasters every year.
Earthquake Earthquakes give almost no warning at all. One minute all is well and the next, the ground is shaking, things are flying around your home and you need to take cover, fast! Your dog may be the only early warning you get. Unlike cats, dogs will not hide. Typical pre-earthquake behaviour observed in dogs includes howling, whining, barking, restlessness, aggression, and increased devotion to owners. Dogs will usually run blindly out of their home territory in panic. They can bolt through collapsed gates, broken windows or doors. Alternatively they may whine, and stick to you like a shadow. Some dogs will become more aggressive and protective, others will be more nervous and fearful.
After the quake, you may be left with a gaping hole in your home, cracks in your foundation, or a roof that’s fallen in. Your home may not be structurally sound enough for you to return to it. Broken glass from windows, fences that no longer stand, displaced wildlife, and no services such as electricity, gas, water, or garbage pickup mean you’ve got real, immediate problems. Broken gas mains can add fire to your list of hazards. After earthquakes, risks to your dog include cuts from glass, broken bones, injuries from falling objects, injuries from being hit by a car, or dehydration. They may be crushed by aftershocks or eaten by predators if you don’t have them with you.
Wind If you live in an area where tornadoes and hurricanes touch down every year you know that even with sophisticated early warning systems and a 24 hour per day weather channel, you can get very little warning. Even if you don’t live in an area affected by tornadoes and hurricanes, severe wind or other storms can wreak havoc. Trees can fall down on homes or power lines, or block road access. Remember the ice storm that struck Ottawa? Some people were 19 days or more with no power. A state of emergency was declared. People died. Severe storms leave dogs with broken bones, or life-threatening injuries from being hit and cut open by flying objects. Dogs can be picked up by tornado activity and flung great distances, causing injury or death.
Fire It’s been a dry year in the hills and forests. Lightening strikes are igniting more forest fires than normal. Then there was that careless camper. The first thing you know, a police officer is pounding on your door in the middle of the night with the news that your community is at risk. You have 10 minutes to gather your wits, your family, your dog, and some supplies to see you through for an indefinite period while the fire is being battled. Don’t forget your dog! Over 2,000 pets were taken in by the SPCA shelters during the recent disastrous Kelowna fires. Hazards faced by your dog from a fire include burns, eye irritation, smoke inhalation, and broken limbs caused by panicked animals running into fences and other obstacles.
Water Live in a flood zone? Enjoy a beautiful view of the river from your home? Rivers can and do overflow their banks. Think of the Mississippi River disaster some years ago. Even people who don’t live on a flood plain or on a river bank can be threatened by torrential rains which can cause sudden flash floods and mud slides. While having your dog tied outside may protect him from some situations, in a flood, tying or confining your dog means death by drowning. Other hazards include contaminated water, skin irritations, injury from floating or moving objects, exhaustion, and the danger of being swept away. Floods and storms also contribute to increased flea, tick, and mosquito populations.
Put together a disaster kit for your dog.
In an emergency, there is no time to gather the supplies you’ll need like food, water, and first aid items. You need to get out quickly so these things should already be packed and accessible before they’re needed. You should have at least a week’s supplies ready, two weeks is better.
Take your dog with you.
Many people have planned for and put together the supplies they need to protect themselves and their children. They plan escape routes and train their children about the what to do when faced with disaster. What about the most vulnerable member of your family? The one who depends most on you for food, water, shelter, and protection. Did you read the stories of lost and homeless dogs after Hurricane Katrina? Do you want to take the chance you won’t see your beloved dog again?
Here’s what you need:
Refresh every 3 months
1 gallon per dog, per day – do not ration*
* less for small dogs, more for puppies, elderly dogs, or high activity dogs
* you can minimize the amount of water required by reducing activity and keeping him cool
Collapsible water bowl
Water purifying tablets
Store in the driest, coolest, darkest spot in the house.
Food should be covered and kept in airtight cans or metal containers to protect it from pests.
Dry: Store enough of the food your pet is accustomed to eating to last two weeks. There is less chance of digestive problems if the food is familiar. Check expiration dates. Generally, the shelf life for dry food is one year from manufacture date (except Lamb – 6 months)
Wet: Same amount as above. Check expiration dates. Generally, the shelf life for canned food is two years from manufacture date
With reduced activity, healthy pets can survive on less than their usual food intake for an extended period. Food, unlike water, can be rationed safely.
Check all expiration dates regularly.
Prescription medications (30 day supply)
* Include heartworm meds, flea tablets, collars or ointments
Vitamin/mineral supplement to maintain strength
Nutritional supplement to stimulate appetite and get needed nutrition into a stressed animal
Any special dietary needs
Check condition and sizing yearly.
Collar (with emergency contacts, pet ID)
Harness (with emergency contacts, pet ID)
Tie outs (extra long leash for confining dog at temporary location)
Crate/carrier (with emergency contacts, pet ID)
Muzzle (for volunteer, or veterinarian safety)
Check condition and sizing yearly.
Protection for his feet. Your dog may be required to walk long distances in or around broken glass and wood.
Check blankets yearly for wear, moths, etc.
Store whatever you think you dog would need if required to sleep outside and/or if his bed/crate was destroyed (especially for indoor dogs)
A familiar toy with all the smells of home on it will provide comfort and an antidote for boredom and stress.
Check expiration dates, condition of tools yearly.
Brushes and combs
Pooper scooper and baggies
Chew toys help keep teeth clean with a minimal amount of water
First Aid Kit
Check all items for condition and expiration dates yearly.
Check your own first aid kit and add what’s missing:
* Pet first aid manual
* Contact info for local vet offices
* Tape (Masking – first aid tape doesn’t stick to some dogs’ coats)
* Antibacterial soap
* Antiseptic wipes
* Cotton balls/gauze
* Hydrogen Peroxide
* Eye ointment/eyewash
* Betadine or Provodine
* Stop bleed powder
* Biosol or pet pectillin (for diarrhea)
* Ear swabs
There are several natural remedies available at most health food stores that may prove useful:
* Rescue Remedy – shock, emotional trauma
* Aconite – fear (stronger than Rescue Remedy)
* Apis – insect bites/stings
* Arnica – bruises, sore areas
* Arsenicum Album – upset stomach
* Belladonna – fever
Update as required.
Copy of complete medical history including vaccination history Name, address, telephone number of regular veterinarian
Lost Dog Kit
Update as required.
Photos of dog – front and side views for use on poster
Premade posters for missing dog to attach photos to
Rescue sticker for the windows of your home to alert firefighters or rescue personnel that there are animals that require assistance (don’t forget to list what and how many animals and their names)
Wallet photos with names on the back to show to people during a search
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Dr. Judy Stolz, DVM
“Providing for your
Animal’s Needs During
Disaster Times” by
Diana Guerrero, 1996