Caring for Your Dog During a Disaster


  • Author Jennifer Ayalon
  • Published November 6, 2013
  • Word count 648

Natural and manmade disasters or emergencies can happen anywhere, and often with little or no warning. Whether you are dealing with the aftermath of a tornado, coping with a hurricane, or recovering from an earthquake, your dog will be impacted as much as the members of the human pack. In fact, dealing with a disaster is probably more difficult for dogs because they have no way to understand what is actually happening.

However, a bit of preparation and planning on your part can help your dog to survive even the most difficult situations with as little trouble as possible.

Anyone who has seen coverage of the aftermath of disasters like the 2011 Japan tsunami, Hurricane Sandy, or tornadoes knows how confused and disrupted life has become. Both people and animals are dazed, and many are injured. In these circumstances, dogs can easily become separated from their owners, and if there is no way to identify the dog, reunion will be unlikely.

Most dogs wear collars or harnesses, and making sure that your dog’s license, at the very least, is attached to the collar can help to return a lost pet. Tags are also available that will give detailed contact information, including the owner’s address and phone number.

Microchipping is an excellent way to help track down a missing dog. A tiny microchip is injected into the skin on the dog’s shoulders that contains information on tracking the dog. This is a painless procedure that is low in cost. Universal microchips are now used that will identify a lost dog at any shelter, and nearly every veterinary office in the country.

It is recommended that every household have a 3 days’ supply of food and water on hand, and this should include the needs of your dog, as well. As far as water is concerned, this translates into 1 gallon per person per day. This is also a sensible guideline that should also be followed for your dog. While a small dog will not use nearly that much water, the extra can always come in handy for other purposes.

Among the family’s emergency supplies should also be food for the dog. Disaster supplies for dogs are available, but your pet’s ordinary food can also be put aside, although this will not have as long a shelf life as food designed specifically for emergency purposes. Rotate food when the expiration date approaches, and keep bags sealed until they will be used.

Keeping warm is another consideration when your dog is involved in a disaster. Although certain breeds of dog are very cold tolerant, many are not, and suitable dog clothing and extra blankets for your pooch should be a part of the household emergency supplies. Towels to dry off a wet dog can help to keep it from developing hypothermia.

If your dog is taking medication on a regular basis, you should have a supply that will see it through 2 weeks if necessary. Make sure you have the name and phone number of your veterinarian and a copy of the prescription. A dog first aid kit can help you to treat any minor injuries that may occur during the crisis.

Dogs can easily become confused and disoriented during an emergency – even in their own yards. Because panic might cause the dog to run off, he or she should be kept on a leash at all times when going outside the house.

Standing water can conceal a number of dangers for your dog, such as broken glass and other sharp objects, downed electrical lines, and bacteria and viruses. Do not allow your dog to either walk through flood waters or drink from them.

No one can do much to prevent a disaster or emergency from happening, but understanding the needs of your dog under these circumstances will increase the chance that he or she will come through it unscathed.

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