Pets in an Emergency

Make a Pet Disaster Kit

The following items should be assembled and ready for a crisis. Consider two kits: In one, put everything you and your pets will need to stay where you are. The second kit should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away.

Food, Water and Medications

Never let your pet’s food supply get down to the last few crumbs. The same goes for prescribed/daily medications. Always keep extra dry and/or canned food and stored water on hand — at least a 3-day supply for each pet.


For food and water, plus a hand can opener.


Doggie walk bags and plastic trash bags for dogs, bagged pet litter with pan and scoop for kitty.

Collar, ID Tags and Leash

Dogs should wear a collar with rabies and ID tag at all times. Have collars/harnesses and leashes (with ID tags) for your cats, even if they live indoors. All of your pets should be microchipped.

Dog Crate / Cat Carrier for Each Pet

Crates should have good air circulation, bedding and a cover for sun, rain, ash, etc. It should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down. Crate train your pets in advance — they will feel much more safe and calm in their “den.”

Your Pet’s Important Info

Include a photo of each pet (with you in the photo, if possible). Record license, microchip and vaccination information along with copies of important medical records and prescriptions. Place in a clear plastic bag and store in your disaster kit.

Familiar Items

Favorite toys, treats and bedding can help reduce stress for your pets.

Make a Plan

Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision you will need to make is whether to stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Watch TV, listen to the radio and check the internet for information and instructions. If you are specifically told to evacuate, shelter-in-place or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

Know Where to Go

Make arrangements now with friends or family members outside of the danger area who will welcome your pets. Also, keep a list of pet-friendly hotels and boarding facilities.

Develop a Buddy System

Make plans with your neighbors to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Show them your disaster kit, exchange contact numbers and pre-plan a meeting place.

Other Special Animals

Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage with extra cage liners, a blanket and a plant mister (for cooling). Pack fruit and vegetables with a high water content.

Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase but must be transferred to more secure housing at the evacuation site. Take a heat rock and a water bowl large enough for soaking.

Fish should be transported in a shatterproof container with a lid, such as an insulated ice chest. Fill only 1/2 to 3/4 full of water and avoid overcrowding the fish. Take food and any equipment needed to keep the water circulated, oxygenated, cleaned and heated as necessary.

Small mammals (rabbits, hamsters etc.) can be transported in their living cages or secure traveling carriers. Take bedding materials, food, dishes and water bottles.

Horses and livestock (llamas, sheep, goats, pigs etc.) require special handling and sheltering. It is extremely important that you have a disaster evacuation plan for them.