dog evacuate

East Coast Dog Disaster Preparation Tips

Fidose of Reality is offering up some west coast – east coast get ready “just in case” tips to keep you and your dog(s) safe and sound. These east coast dog disaster preparation tips actually might save a life.

While all of these tips are applicable to anyone, anywhere with a dog, having been emergently evacuated several times, we recommend all dog parents read this. In an emergency, are you prepared to evacuate and do you have what is needed on hand when seconds count?

No matter where you live, anything from an unpredictable weather disaster to an act of terrorism or even a fire can happen. An emergency plan must be in place that includes your dog(s).

Our friends at SlimDoggy have prepared a West Coast preparedness article, which we highly encourage you to read today as well.

(Updated 09/18)

Dog disaster preparation tips

First Point of Interest: Where To Stay

Ensure you know where you and your dog will go in the event of a natural (or otherwise) disaster. From hurricane planning to flood evacuation, have a plan of escape, a point of destination and all supplies in place should you need to urgently escape. Never leave a dog behind.

Hotels are not required to accept pets in FEMA emergencies. Please read more here: Snopes on Hotels and Pets and Hotels and Pets During Emergencies

In 2006, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act which ensures that emergency rescues and care shelters meet the essential needs of household pets and service animals. Therefore, this does not include hotels.

Our friends at Pets Weekly outlined the facts and what the PETS Act of 2006 means.

Always call ahead and have a place that accepts pets or drive to one that does. We had to drive hours away from our town during a flood evacuation to find a hotel that accepted pets.

What I Took When Flooding Threatened

  • Food (and now that we have switched to dehydrated Dr. Harvey’s food, it’s much easier!)
  • Water : Officials cautioned a week’s supply. We evacuated to a dog-friendly home located two hours away, so not an issue.
  • Food and water bowls: Indeed. Bamboo collapsible bowls in the emergency bag rocked like a charm.
  • Meds and vaccine records. I then stored these in plastic baggies. All of my dog’s items are centrally located in one closet of the house with the exception of food and vet records.
  • Photographs and ID: For safety, security, comfort but also in case Fido goes missing. Please please please do not leave the dog behind. If you couldn’t escape flood waters, neither will Fido.
  • A safe place of retreat that ALLOWS dogs: Having made several calls the night before the mandatory evacuation, pet-friendly hotels within 2-1/2 hours were booked. Be sure to have somewhere to go for backup, a place to crash temporarily, and one that allows dogs. I’d have slept in my car of a vacant parking lot if I had to; but I didn’t. Dog-welcoming friends made our emergency escape feel more like a needed retreat. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around “this is really happening to me/us.” Happily, the majority of local emergency makeshift shelters allowed pets – as long as you had a kennel and vaccine records. If you titer your dog, keep copies of those as well.  Write phone numbers down of these locations; more than one, in fact.
  • Pet first aid kit, extra leash, toys , treats, dog bed/kennel/comforts of home.


Off the Beaten Path First Aid Kit Items

Right now there is probably a dog first aid kit of some sort in your apartment, dog supply closet, storage area, or glove box, right? At the very least, there are items in it that generally include gauze pads, swabs, thermometer, tweezers, and some sort of wound care ointment. Those are all fine and dandy and essential to a first aid kit, but do you know about these 7 staples that every dog first aid kit should have in it? Check out our article on “Seven Things You Do Not Have in Your First Aid Kit.”


When Disaster Strikes

Author of 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog and Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book, Jenny Pavlovic, told us, “After Hurricane Katrina, the PETS Act was passed by Congress to enable people to take their pets when evacuating. However, the bill did not receive funding to provide for evacuating pets. Instead, communities must have a disaster plan that includes pets in order to receive Federal assistance.”

Don’t Let This Happen to You

If separated from the family pet, Dr. Nancy Kay, author of Speaking for Spot, suggested that having your dog microchipped and keeping the registry up to date on changes in address and phone number ensures a great peace of mind about reunion with the dog.

dog bone

What Really Happens at Animal Makeshift Shelters

In June of 2013, my friend, June Myers, of Oklahoma, had a tornado touch down about a half a mile from her home. She volunteered to help the animals affected by the storm.

Read all about what happened to the animals and how you can prepare your own pets for disaster by reading my article for Dogster magazine.

Baxter was reunited with his dad after the tornadoes of Oklahoma in 2013. Some were not as fortunate.

Unexpected Issues

Here is what you should do in a variety of unplanned circumstances:

You Lose Electricity: Pets should remain with you. If it is summer and you must go somewhere cool, take pets with you. The inside of an apartment or home is not a place to leave a dog who can easily overheat and die. The same goes in the winter months: A fur coat is not enough protection to keep a dog warm. Do not leave pets outside in the cold nor alone in an unheated residence. Take them with you. The Humane Society says that “if you stay at home during a summer power outage, ask your local emergency management office if there are pet-friendly cooling centers in the area.”

dog glasses
Keep cool and calm in an emergency as much as possible. Dogs read our emotions.

You Experience a Heat Wave: And the Northeastern part of the country is well known for high temperatures this time of year and going forward through even parts of September:

Here are basic guidelines for summer safety from the Humane Society of the United States:

  • Never leave your pets in a parked car. Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. (Download their “Hot Car” flyer )
  • Watch the humidity. Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association says, “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”
  • Don’t rely on a fan. They don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.
  • Provide lots of shade and water. Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
  • Limit exercise on hot days to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets who, because of their short noses, typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.
  • Look for signs of heatstroke, including heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.
  • Treat suspected heatstroke immediately. Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.
Keep dogs cool all summer long.

You Are Unable to Reach Your Pets: Perhaps you have had an emergency, an accident, roads are closed, a fire is happening on your street, or any number of factors keeping you from reuniting with your dog(s). Here’s what to do:

  • Give a nearby trusted person a key to your place and make them familiar with what pets you have.
  • Be certain this trusted person knows your pet and your pet is comfortable with him or her.
  • Have an emergency kit of info ready for said caretaker. Info should be easily accessible in the event food and meds need to be given in your absence.
  • If you enlist the services of a pet sitter, ask if he or she can assist and make plans in advance for emergency situations. Will she drive on ice? Be available on call?
cute dog
Always be sure someone has access to your dog.

It sounds like a lot to prepare for, and it is, but the life of your dog(s) depends on you. The rule of thumb is to do for your pet(s) what you need to do for yourself to prepare.

QUESTION: Has Mother Nature has ever wreaked havoc in your life and affected your pets?

Similar Posts


  1. Being prepared really needs to be a mantra of pet parents. This is a great list of tips…and I loved the questions for the pet sitter…will you drive on ice! Perfect! Doesn’t do any good if they are afraid to get to your dog. Luckily we’ve never been faced with any disasters, the closest was the fire last year but luckily it was traveling away from our home. Thanks for sharing these tips and I hope that we never have to use any of them!

  2. We participated in a fundraiser for CMDART, which is a group that works with the Red Cross during emergencies in our area setting up shelters. Last year we got their evacuation kit. There are so many important things we can do in advance that makes our lives and those of our pets much safer in an emergency situation.

  3. Awesome, thorough post and links to further info. This is the time of year the whole Eastern seaboard has to worry about hurricanes. Sandy still fresh in all our minds. Will share & add these as a resource for our frequent X-country trips. Thanks!

  4. Very important list with great tips. I’m not sure that many people even think about what they will do with their pet during an emergency until it happens to them. Thank you for bringing the topic up! 🙂

  5. In 2004, we were mandatory evacuated 4 times in one hurricane season with eight dogs. I hope to never go through that again.
    It is neat that you said they except dogs at shelters where you were at. Sadly here they will not accept them under any circumstances here and cause many to refuse to leave their pets behind so they stay home.
    Great article with lots of great tips!

  6. Your tips on emergency preparedness are excellent. Such a timely piece and truly gives the reader important information should circumstances warrant it. Great tips and an eye opener for all of us with pets.

  7. Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  8. Panky: Dose meow-valous tips fur da doggies. I fink DaMa will get to thinking how to prepare da same fur us panfurs. We no live whar we haf to worry about hurricanes an such but it’ll be gud to have dis kind of infurmation.
    Panfur Purrs

  9. These ID Tags can be bought in different finishes,
    like matte, notched, copper, brass, andd black
    powdered. If you choose to include canned foood don’t forget to add a hand operated cann opener.

    It’s an all-natural thing not wanting tto think of emergencies but the truth of the matter is that they haopen and individuals need to be prepared.

  10. Such a nice blog! Regularly cleaning your dog bed is important to help ensure that your pet stays clean, happy, and healthy. Treating the cover as well as the cushion of your bed, and addressing stains, pests, and other problems as they appear.

  11. What a wonderful article! We definitely need to include our pets in our disaster preparedness plans! While we are never in danger of a hurricane, we do have dangerous flooding along the Mississippi River and there is an ever looming possibility of a major earthquake, soooo… thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.