Take These 5 steps to Protect Your Dog in Case of Natural Disaster


older man rescuing dog

Have you thought enough about what you would do if there was a natural disaster and you were forced to evacuate your home? Maybe you have a plan with your family on how you would communicate if the cell towers go out. Do you have a first aid or safety kit stashed under your bed? In your car? Under your bed and in your car and in your closet? (You can never be too safe, right!)

What about your dog?

Did you know that in times of natural disaster, American Red Cross help centers and locations cannot take in pets due to health and safety concerns? Alarming as that may sound, there are steps you can take in advance to secure your fur-baby’s well-being if something major happens. Who ever said being a loyal pet parent was easy?

Well, not to worry. A little preparation can go a long way in keeping your pet safe, if and when disaster strikes. Here’s how to prepare for your furry friend in case of emergency:

Make sure your dog has accurate identification

dog bone identification and collar

If you don’t already have accurate identification for your dog, take some time to update it. This includes microchipping your dog as well as outfitting him/her with ID collars and tags that list his/her name, your name, your phone number and any urgent information a stranger would need to know, such as your dog’s medical needs.

Put together a doggie evac-pack

dog waiting to leave with leash and pack

Put together an emergency grab-and-go kit for your dog and keep it as close as possible to one of your home’s exits. Your pup should have her own pack, separate from the one for your family, in case you need to leave her with someone else during the disaster.

Include these items in your doggie evac-pack:

  • A leash and harness (always good to have a couple as back-up)
  • 3-7 days worth of dry or canned food (be sure to rotate this food out every 2 months so you aren’t left with anything spoiled in an emergency)
  • A 7-day supply of water per pet (at least) along with a water/food bowl
  • Garbage bags for clean up
  • Recent photos of your pet in case you become separated
  • Your dog’s favorite toys and chews (Bully Buddy anyone?) to help him feel safe and at home in an unfamiliar or scary situation
  • Blankets to stay warm

Get pet rescue alert stickers

dog rescue alert sticker

Pet rescue alert stickers can be placed on the front window of your home to let search and rescue teams know how many animals to look for in the event they need to search your home or its remains. These stickers also allow you to mark your pets as “evacuated” which tells search and rescue teams that you and your pet have safely left the house. You can find pet rescue window decals at most major pet stores and on Amazon.com.

Plan for the events that are most likely to occur in your area

dog looking for people in disaster area

If you live in the rural Midwest, where tornadoes are more common, fix your evac-pack with tornados in mind. If you live in the West where we are waiting on the next big earthquake to strike at any moment, it’s best to prepare with specific earthquake pet safety tips.

Know where you can go with your dog for additional help

Find out which local hotels and shelters will allow pets during emergencies, so you don’t get turned away just because Fido comes as a package deal. Also, make a list of close friends or family that may be willing to temporarily watch your pet during an emergency, just in case you need a safe place for your pet to stay while you assess your situation.

Both the Red Cross and ASPCA have mobile apps to assist in the event of an emergency where you can find tips, tricks and resources for what to do in any given situation, even if there is no cell service. Both are free and available in the Apple or Android App Store.

Related Resources

How to find pet-friendly accommodations
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, these household items are the most toxic to your dog
Bully Stick Best Practices: Why does matching your dog’s weight with the right-sized bully stick matter?