Emergency Preparedness for Pets & Their Families

Dog standing on bumper of Raleigh firetruck

Emergency Preparedness Kits

Make sure that you have an emergency preparedness kit for you, your family and your pets!  

Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit

Cats - Typically, cats are only put in their crates when they are going to the vet. Some cats are difficult to catch.

  • Make sure that you have a properly sized crate for EVERY cat in your home. If you don't have enough crates, you may not be able to evacuate all of your cats.
  • Get your cats used to the crate so that it is not a stressful event for them to be crated and moved.
  • Make sure all cats are microchipped. If you can't find an outdoor cat and need to evacuate, a microchip can help reunite you with your cat after the emergency.

Dogs - Not all owners crate train their dogs. When you evacuate, your pet may be required to be crated. You can decrease your dog's stress by crate training ahead of time.

Horses - All horses should be able to calmly and quickly load onto a trailer. During an evacuation is NOT the time to train your horse. Your horse may be left behind if they are unable to be loaded.

If you don't own a trailer, make a plan of who may be able to transport your horse before the emergency.

Why Pet Owners Must Plan

  • Some public shelters will not accept pets.
  • If you wait until the last minute to evacuate, you may have no choice but to go to a public shelter.
  • If you leave your pets behind, they may not survive or may never be found - DO NOT LEAVE PETS BEHIND!
  • There is no way to know how long it will be before you are permitted back after the storm. Frightened animals quickly slip out open doors, broken windows or other damaged areas of your home opened by the storm.

REMEMBER:  If you must evacuate, then the conditions are not safe for your pets!! 

Develop a Written Plan NOW!

  • A written DISASTER PLAN will help you and your pets survive.
  • Identify your evacuation area and level to determine if and when you would have to evacuate.
  • If you are located in a storm surge flood plain, the decision to evacuate will depend on the category of the storm. Always prepare for one category higher than the one being forecast. A hurricane often increases in strength just before making landfall. 
  • Your goal should be to evacuate to a safe location.
  • Friends or relatives in a safe area are your best choice.
  • If they are unable to house both you and your pets, arrange shelter for your pets at a veterinarian or kennel close to your evacuation location so that you will be able to have as much contact with them as possible. You and your pets will fare better if you are together.
  • If you plan to go a motel, determine in advance whether pets are welcome and what, if any, special rules are applicable.
  • Make plans well in advance of the hurricane season for cows, horses, sheep, etc.

If you must evacuate, LEAVE EARLY!

  • An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely! 
  • All animals should have secure carriers or collapsible cages for large dogs as well as collars, leashes, rabies tags and owner ID tags.
  • Carriers should be large enough for the animals to stand comfortably and turn around. ID must be on the carrier.
  • Train your pets to become familiar with their carriers ahead of time. Then, the carrier will be a secure and comforting refuge if the animal is required to live in it for days, even weeks, after the storm.
  • Before hurricane season begins on June 1 of each year, make sure all of your pets have current immunizations and take these records with you if you must evacuate. Photograph each of your pets prior to June 1 every year and include these pictures with your pets' immunization records.
  • Your pet survival kit should include ample food (at least 2 weeks supply), water/food bowls, medications, specific care instructions, newspapers and plastic trash bags for handling waste, cat litter, brushes, combs and other hygiene items, toys and other comfort items, and muzzles, if necessary.
  • A manual can opener is a necessity.
  • All belongings should be marked with identification.
  • If you are not evacuating your pets to a commercial animal facility, you should also include first-aid supplies for your pets in the survival kit.
  • Ask you vet for an emergency care pamphlet for animals.
  • If you plan to shelter your pets at a kennel or clinic, call before evacuating to determine if space is available. Some kennels will accept reservations early with prepaid fees.
  • Allow sufficient time to travel from the kennel to your evacuation location after making certain that your animals are secure.
  • Throughout the evacuation and the storm, your pets will need reassurance from you.
  • Remain calm, keep as close to their normal routine as possible and speak to them regularly in a calm, reassuring voice.

If You Can Stay at Home

  • It is just as important to adequately plan for your pets even if you don't have to evacuate.
  • Carriers, collars with proper ID and leashes should be maintained for your pets at all times.
  • Your pets will be most comfortable and secure in their carriers in a safe area of your home until the storm has passed.
  • If they are not secured during the storm and your house is damaged, your pets may escape and become disoriented, since normal landmarks and scent trails could be obliterated.
  • If your pets become lost, proper ID will ensure their return to you.
  • Place your pet food and medications in watertight containers in a cool, dry, dark place.
  • Store adequate water for your pet.
  • Your water source may become contaminated. (To purify water, add 2 drops of household bleach PER quart of water, mix, seal tightly, let stand for 30 minutes before drinking.)
  • if you bring plants into the home before a storm, be careful not to allow pets access to them since many ornamental plants are poisonous. 

After the Storm

  • Walk your pets on a leash until they become reoriented to their home.
  • CAUTION: Downed power lines and other debris pose real dangers to you and your pets. 
  • Do not allow pets to consume food or water that may have become contaminated.
  • Be particularly careful in using candles or oil lamps around pets. Never leave them unattended. 

For More Information on Emergency Preparedness

Visit the following websites: 

Federal Emergency Management Agency



The American Veterinary Medical Association has a lot of great tips and information on their page, Pets and Disasters