Southeast Texas weather can be wild and unpredictable, with threats that range from severe thunderstorms and tornadoes to hurricanes and—as we have seen in recent winters—freezing precipitation and extreme cold.

When severe weather strikes, fast action can make the difference between being safe and being forced to weather the storm and staying in harm’s way. And, your plan should include your whole family, including your pet. This guide from your trusted southeast Texas neighbors at Neighborhood Veterinary Centers explains how to include your pet in your disaster preparedness plan.

Be prepared: Update your pet’s veterinary care

If you’re forced to evacuate your home, you’ll need to find a pet-friendly place to rest your head. Although many hotels, shelters, and pet boarding facilities adjust their restrictions in emergency situations, they will likely still require proof of vaccination before accepting pets. Ensure your pet’s routine care is always up-to-date by scheduling annual wellness exams at Neighborhood Veterinary Centers.

Be known: Ensure your pet’s identification is current

When a storm is coming, you may have only moments to take action. Ensure your pet always wears up-to-date identification, including a collar or harness and current tags. Ideally, all pets should be microchipped, the microchip registered with a recovery database, and the contact information kept current. If your pet doesn’t wear a collar or the collar breaks, a registered microchip is your pet’s best chance of returning home if they get lost or you are separated.

Additionally, print a recent photo of yourself with your pet and store it in your emergency kit. Along with veterinary records, this is an effective way to prove ownership if a microchip scanner isn’t available. 

In an emergency, use an indelible marker to write your phone number on your pet’s abdomen.

Be ready to go: Build a go bag or emergency kit for your pet

All pet owners should create and maintain an emergency bag or kit that contains their pet’s essentials. If an evacuation or shelter-in-place is ordered, having everything in one place can minimize prep time and help you care for your pet.

Your pet’s disaster kit should include:

  • Food and water for five days
  • Veterinary records and a current photo
  • Emergency phone numbers and alternate contacts
  • Spare collar or harness and leash
  • Medications for five days
  • As-needed medications (e.g., motion sickness, anti-anxiety, noise phobia)
  • Familiar blanket or bed
  • Blanket or towel to cover your pet’s crate or carrier
  • Toys and long-lasting chews to provide a positive distraction
  • Disposable litter box and supplies
  • Poop bags and other cleaning items
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Muzzle

Keep your pet’s kit or bag near their carrier, crate, or travel seatbelt to ensure a quick and smooth departure. Replace missing or expired products in your pet’s kit every six months.

Be certain: Have a pet-friendly evacuation plan

Knowing your destination during an evacuation provides powerful peace of mind and may mean you do not need to be separated from your pet. Consider your possible routes and look for pet-friendly accommodations along the way. Pet boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals are generally the first to fill up, so look for hotels and lodging that accept pets, or ask friends or family if they would host you and your pet temporarily. 

Be calm: Acclimate your pet to travel and confinement

Whether you shelter in a basement, evacuation shelter, hotel, or travel by vehicle, staying calm in a crate, carrier, or other small space is an essential life skill for dogs and cats. If your pet is stressed during car travel or confinement, you should train them now to accept these situations and rehearse your evacuation or sheltering procedures before they are necessary. Skills should include:

  • Entering and exiting a crate or carrier happily
  • Accepting staying in their carrier (i.e., cats and small pets)
  • Relaxing in the crate or carrier for several hours at a time
  • Staying in a small space or room without being destructive
  • Remaining calm in their owners’ absence 
  • Urinating or defecating while leashed, on potty pads, or in a disposable litter box

If your pet suffers from separation anxiety, motion sickness, or generalized anxiety, ask your Neighborhood Veterinary Centers veterinarian about calming strategies or medications that will reduce your pet’s stress during a severe weather event.

Mother Nature is unpredictable, but your pet’s safety and welfare shouldn’t be. Include your pet in your disaster preparedness plan, so you can both feel safe in the eye of the storm. For expert veterinary care and guidance in every season, trust your southeast Texas neighbors at Neighborhood Veterinary Centers. Contact our team to discuss your pet’s needs.