Hurricane season is upon us and while you may have time to prepare for a known storm, it’s good to have some evacuation necessities always prepped in a “scram bag” for sudden evacuation situations.
Bring enough food and water (and bowls) for at least 3-7 days depending on your evacuation plan. Bring your pet’s vital medications. I recommend having at least 2 weeks’ worth of medications for chronic conditions. Pet First Aid kits can be found in many pet stores, online, or in outdoor sporting and hunting stores. I recommend having bandages, gauze, nonstick wound dressing, antibiotic ointment/powder, styptic powder or corn starch, betadine swabs, medical tape, scissors, tweezers, antihistamines, some anti-diarrheal medication like pectin, and some natural calming supplements.
Have access to their vaccine history and medical records – if your veterinarian has an online portal or emails you your pet’s medical records, have those accessible via your phone or print a copy of your pet’s vaccination status to keep in your scram bag. Have your vet’s contact information available. Also, have contact information for some vets in the area you will be evacuating to!
Extra leashes, harnesses, and collars are never a bad idea. If you don’t need them, someone else may. Make sure your pets cannot slip out of their harnesses or collars. I use a slip lead along with my dog’s regular set up if I want to make extra sure she can’t get out of the collar.
Individual cat carriers for each cat! If you have more cats than hands to carry them in carriers, consider a cat backpack to keep them separate if needed. Stressed cats may not be comforted by having a housemate too close to them long term.
Litter and litter boxes and scoops and disposal bags. Evacuating with cats means bringing a lot of their regular daily stuff!
Have your pets microchipped if possible! Dogs, cats, large animals and even some exotics are able to be microchipped. Ask your vet about their microchipping capabilities. Keep the microchip information up to date with all your current phone numbers and addresses. Also, have some photos of your pets available to help with identification. See my blog on microchipping – I’m passionate about this. I want my animals back if we get separated!
Write down pet care instructions just as you would leave for a pet sitter. Keep that in your scram bag by their food. If you have to board your animals or have them taken to a shelter where you won’t be caring for them, it will save so much time and confusion to have an updated list of your pet care “how to” specifics and you’ll be less likely to forget something important like medication instructions, behavioral issues, or food allergy information.
Toys and familiar home items are really helpful in a scary and strange environment. Try to bring some bedding or some familiar blankets and their favorite toys. Items from home help provide an element of security and stability. I give my cats natural calming treats and pharmaceutical sedatives for regular car rides, so I tend to want to have many day’s worth of mild sedatives available for an evacuation.
Know what hotel chains allow pets along your evacuation route in case you can’t make it to your final destination in one day. Try http://www.pet-friendly-hotels.net
Check out some of the other pet emergency/pet evacuation tips online at the AVMA, Humane Society, Red Cross, ASPCA, and the CDC for more tips and information.
Tamara Rattray, DVM