Preparing for an Emergency as a Pet Owner

By Harrison Forbes

As a trainer, I receive all kinds of questions from pet owners on a daily basis–everything from obedience advice to what are the best pet diet practices. Throughout my travels, one common, constant problem that I hear about is storm anxiety. What should I do with my pets during a storm or emergency situation?

This past year alone has left us feeling the wrath of tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, and even snowstorms into the springtime, so it’s more important now than ever to have a plan in place that includes your dogs, cats, birds, fish, etc. Whether your pet is merely whining and pacing underfoot over thunder or you need to evacuate due to a natural disaster, preparing for an emergency and having a plan in place will help ease anxiety. Pets are members of the family too, and they rely on us for their safety!

I’ve come up with a few tips for all the apartment-dwelling pet owners out there to prepare themselves–and their faithful companions–for emergency situations:

Keep An Emergency Kit Handy

Make sure you have a small emergency kit available at all times in your apartment that includes two days’ worth of food, bottled water and a pet first aid kit that includes ointments, gauze, wraps, etc.

Protect Your Pet’s Paws

A pair of doggie boots is essential. A flood, tornado and/or hurricane can wreak havoc and leave debris scattered everywhere.  Not only will your pooch’s paws be protected, but it will save you from having to carry them wasting time and energy. For feline friends, a collapsible cat carrier with shoulder straps would be ideal.

Wearable Anxiety Relief

An anti-anxiety shirt or jacket like a Thundershirt will help your pet deal with stressful storms. A Thundershirt or jacket can be worn by cats or dogs and applies gentle constant pressure that has a dramatic calming effect on your animal.

Prepare for the Worst

If you and your pet become separated, you’ll want to be prepared. Have a “lost pet” flyer readily available on your phone, computer and/or in hard copy. In addition, make sure your pets’ tags are up to date, so if your pet is found, they can be easily identified and returned to your home.

Operation Relocation

Have a plan B in place in case you are under advisement to evacuate your area. Always follow national or local emergency alerts and have a pet-friendly hotel, family member or friend’s home in place.

Have you ever experienced an emergency situation with a pet?  If you have any other tips, share them!

Harrison Forbes Headshot

Harrison Forbes has been a dog trainer and animal behaviorist for more than two decades–and he has become the “go-to” guy for pet advice. He has appeared on programs such as Larry King Live, Live with Regis and Kelly, Fox News Network, CNN, The Early Show, and The Today Show–and he has been called upon to train dogs for films in Hollywood, including The Rainmaker. Forbes is the best-selling author of Dog Talk, and he is currently writing his next book.

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