A first person shot of dogs in a grassy yard gathered around the viewer.

A disaster can strike anytime, and keeping your furry friend safe may be more complex than looking out for just yourself. 

Our pets use different cues like body language to read a situation, so in an emergency, your dog may stress just as much as you. An anxious and overwhelmed animal is unpredictable, which can be difficult when your objective is to get them to safety. Thankfully, a bit of preparation will go a long way in building a smooth evacuation plan for you and your dog. 

When you are building your emergency preparedness plan, you’ll need to strategize for what you’re preparing for, build a tailored course of action for evacuation, and have a pre-packed kit of supplies. This can take time to put together comprehensively, so it’s better to be ready before the threat of a disaster sinks in. Start planning now, because you never know when an emergency will hit. 

What Exactly Should My Family Be Prepared For?

An emergency that necessitates leaving your home can be naturally occurring or man-made. It can be a scary experience, but having a plan of action can be crucial for ensuring the safety of every family member. 

Different types of dangers may require more specific planning, but when building an emergency preparedness plan, you may want to develop two separate strategies: one for natural disasters and another for man-made emergencies. 

Natural Disasters

This category accounts for all emergencies created by Mother Nature: hurricanes, tornados, floods, etc. 

1 in 5 pet owners have had to evacuate their homes due to a natural disaster, and almost half report leaving at least one animal behind. 32% of those surveyed report leaving a dog behind. Building a plan in advance will save precious time and provide valuable insights in the moment so you can bring your animals to safety. No pet owner wants to leave their furry friend in the face of disaster, but they’ll need your willingness to prepare in order to stay safe.  

Man-Made Emergencies 

The most frequently seen man-made emergency that threatens a home is the common housefire. The U.S. Fire Administration even reports a 5% increase in house fires from 2012 to 2021

An explosion in the kitchen or black smoke filling the air will be a scary sight for your dog in their home. While cats are more likely to hide in the event of a fire, your dog may also seclude themself out of habit if they are unprepared for the emergency. Having emergency cues and simple commands engrained can be critical in this time-sensitive situation. 

Building an Evacuation Plan

  • Assess the most common risks in your area: The most common threats to your family will change depending on where you live. In Pennsylvania, flooding is the most common natural disaster to prepare for.  
  • Identify all evacuation routes from your residence: Your home may have more than one exit point, and having all of these memorized before a disaster strikes will save time and help prevent panic from incoming flight instincts. Aside from the front and back doors, you may also have large windows that are easy to open and can be utilized in an emergency.  
  • Train your dog to know emergency cues: The best way to prepare your dog for an emergency is to establish a form of communication where you can alert them of any coming danger. Having this prepared can even be a good bonding experience for a dog and their owner, helping them build trust in your control. Simple cues like “fire” or “danger” are enough, but whatever you choose, make sure they are not phrases you use in your daily vocabulary. 
  • Practice your evacuation regularly: Practice really does make perfect. The only way to truly know if there are flaws in your family’s evacuation plan is to practice it frequently. Now, don’t scare your dog with nightly fire drills, but ensure they remember their cues and the proper responses by occasionally running through the prepared course of action. 

 What Should I Keep in a Disaster Preparedness Kit?

When building your pet’s emergency bag, consider packing the following: 

  • Identification: In a secure spot within the emergency kit, keep a copy of all your pet’s important identification information. That includes their name, breed, recent photo, and chip information, if applicable. You may also keep a spare dog tag with your contact information in case they lose their current collar. 
  • Medication information: Next to their identification information should be a file of their important medical records. Keep a record of recent vaccinations, current and past medications, and any procedures your pet may have needed. If they require a special food, this is where you’ll document their allergies or sensitivities. 
  • Food and water: The general rule of thumb is for a pet parent to carry at least three days of food for their furry friend. In an emergency, this will give the humans enough time to find more resources without worrying about the current needs of their pup. Without the proper supply of food and water, your dog is in just as much danger as they were before. 
  • Compact first-aid kit: A compact first aid kit should include items like gauze, adhesive tape, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers, eye wash solution, a thermometer, disposable gloves, and styptic powder or gel (to stop bleeding). These items may come in handy in the event your pup was hurt in the disaster or escaped from it. This should be one of the most easily accessible items in the emergency kit.  
  • Leash, harness, and/or carrier: Other items that you should keep readily available at the top of a disaster preparedness bag include a sturdy leash and harness for safe transport. For smaller dogs and other pets, a hard back carrier would be the safest option. 
  • Sanitary necessities: Keep a supply of waste bags, gloves, and disinfectant spray handy for cleaning up after your pup in a pinch. Regardless of where your secondary location is, you’ll want to keep it clean. Without these items in your bag, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.  
  • Misc. supplies: If you have the space, some additional items can be extremely useful in an emergency situation. Pack a muzzle, portable water filter, dental care items, paw booties for adverse weather, a whistle, insect repellent, and any other supplies that you know will make your life easier later. 
  • Comfort items: Abruptly leaving home and finding safety elsewhere is a stressful situation, and your pup will feel that anxiety, too. Having a few comfort items like one of their favorite toys or a familiar blanket can go a long way in easing their fear along the way. You may also consider packing anxiety relief treats if you know your pet is easily overwhelmed. 

Prior Training Can Be Life-Saving in an Emergency! 

One of the best ways to keep your dog safe in an emergency is to provide them with proper training to grow life-saving skills. 

Because your dog can’t really speak your language, trying to get them to behave while also managing an emergency may result in losing control of one or the other. Dogs that are trained to respond to simple commands like “come here,” “sit,” and “stay” already have an advantage in an emergency scenario, but further training can help your family coordinate a smoother evacuation plan with specific emergency cues for your dog to recognize and understand. 

Train at Greenlin Pet Resorts in Camp Hill

Greenlin Pet Resorts offers a variety of dog training packages with customizable schedule for every family’s needs. Your dog can gain skills at dog daycare with us, or learn more rapidly with our overnight dog boarding and training program

Greenlin pups are pampered to the max with luxurious amenities and top-of-the-line care. To learn more about our dog training services, reach out to one of our six locations in the Harrisburg area today  or book your pet’s stay online! 

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