Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Create Your Own Pet Emergency Kit

By Tamara L. Waters

You never know when a natural or man-made disaster will occur. Perhaps you already have a family disaster kit stashed somewhere, but what about your pets? To prepare for something that is unexpected and unpredictable, you should plan ahead by putting together your own pet emergency kit. Use some of these tips to get started.

A Container for Your Pet Emergency Kit

To keep all of your supplies in one place, you will need some type of container. A lidded box, backpack or duffle bag can hold your pet emergency kit and keep all items together and ready. Protect your kit from water damage (in the event of flooding) by putting all emergency kit items inside a plastic garbage bag, tie it tightly, and then put the bag into your container. Be sure to label your container “pet emergency kit” with a permanent marker. Mark it prominently in more than one spot.

Necessary Items for Your Pet Emergency Kit

* Leashes and extra collars (one for each pet).

* Tie-out stakes and cables to contain dogs temporarily when necessary.

* Pet Food – enough for three or more days. Depending upon the size of your pet and the number of pets you have, you might be better off stocking your emergency kit with canned food (or a combination of canned and dry) in order to save space within your container. I have three large dogs, so dry food for all of them for three days would take up a great deal of space within the kit. Don't forget a package of treats for your pets and a can opener (if needed).

* Water – stock your kit with regular, 20-ounce bottles of water. Store one bottle per pet, per day. You should stock your pet emergency kit with enough water to last for three or more days.

* Towels can be used for warmth, bedding, comfort, cleaning or first aid for your pet. Stock one or two towels for each pet, depending upon how much room you have in your container.

* Toys – just like people, pets can get bored or anxious. Throw in a few chew toys or other items that will keep your pet entertained and comforted during an emergency disruption.

* Cat litter – fill a plastic zippered freezer bag with a few cups of cat litter. In a pinch during an emergency, a cardboard box can be dug out of the trash for a temporary litter box.

* Emergency numbers and plans – keep at least one printed copy of an emergency plan in your kit. You may need to refer to it if you become upset, confused or simply frazzled during an unexpected emergency. You should include phone numbers for your veterinarian, pet sitter or kennel, as well as any other pertinent information.

* Records – have an up-to-date copy of immunization records for each pet as well as a list of all medications and, if possible, copies of veterinary records for your pets.

* First aid supplies – check with your veterinarian for recommendations on first aid supplies. I include general first aid supplies like scissors, tweezers, bandage rolls, Betadine, stypic stick (to stop bleeding), and a book on animal first aid and medical care. If they are available, you can include various medications your pet needs.

Pet Carriers

While pet carriers probably won't fit into your pet emergency kit, keeping them stored with the kit is a good idea. Folding or pop-up pet carriers are ideal for limited storage space, especially if you have to travel due to an emergency and need to stash the carriers in your car when not in use. If you have hard shell pet carriers, be sure they are all together in an accessible place. A pet carrier that is buried under boxes and boxes of stuff in your garage or storage shed won't be any good in a sudden emergency.

Final Thoughts

Keep your emergency kit in an accessible spot where you can easily grab it and run if a disaster or emergency happens. You don't want to waste precious time looking for it. Keep an inventory list in the container that details each item in your pet emergency kit. Resist the temptation to take things out for daily use (as in, you're in need of an item and it's quicker to just grab it out of your emergency kit). If you must dip into your pet emergency kit, make sure you replace any item used. Check your kit regularly to make sure there is no damage from insects, rodents or water.

Planning ahead and preparing for an emergency or natural disaster (which you hope never happens) is how a responsible pet owner keeps their pets safe and sound in the event of an emergency.

Read more articles by Tamara L. Waters

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