Disaster Essentials


Advice & gear to keep your pets safe in an emergency

When you're putting together a family emergency plan, consider this: Your pets are every bit as reliant upon you as a young child would be.

We've gone to experts in pet safety to get the best safety advice, including the ASPCA and the dog expert, Jeff Franklin, our resident canine guru. 

1. Pack water and dry food. Have them at the ready.

2. Make sure your cat or dog is drinking safe water. 

3. Mind your dog's feet! Pads are soft and easily damaged.

4. Keep your dog dry. When wet, get her dried off right away.

5. Heat kills. Dogs don't do well with direct sunlight or extended heat. Find shade!

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  1. PET ESSENTIALS The equipment you should have to keep your dog or cat safe.

  2. CARRYING METHODS The harnesses and pet carriers you should consider if you have to evacuate or take your pet on the road.

  3. PET ADVICE Stories and advice from pet experts


"Owning a pet is a big commitment. You never get a day off. Planning ahead is critical. When it comes to a disaster situation, that planning is even more important."





Importance: Crucial for dog owners.

Bottom line: You should have a go-bag-sized medical kit. This one works for both humans and pets. Otherwise, we also like the Adventure Medical Kits Daytripper First-Aid Kit, which would suffice for you and your furry family.

Recommended for: Go bag, vehicle kits.

Be aware: This has the standard stuff you'd find in a kit, but includes a few extras like a bandage that can be used to muzzle a dog, and a special bandage that doesn't stick to fur. This dog-specific emergency kit isn't mandatory — but having a light, transportable first-aid kit should be!

Key advice:  "Go carefully over your dog's feet and pads every day, looking for scrapes and cuts." Franklin says to flush minor wounds with clean water and apply an antibiotic ointment.

Importance: Handy.

Bottom line: You should get your animal microchipped. But GPS trackers that attach to a collar are an extra layer of security. Findster Duo+ has a limited range, but allows you to find your pet easily if you're both in the same neighborhood.

You’ll also need: A smartphone. You don't need a monthly plan, however.

Be aware: The collar GPS unit communicates wirelessly with a node you keep with you. It works up to three miles away in open spaces, and much less in areas with lots of buildings and foliage. So while it's not exactly foolproof, it should allow owners to find pets who get out of the yard or immediate vicinity. If you want GPS units with far greater range (and a monthly fee), look to the Whistle 3 GPS pet tracker, which runs on the AT&T cellular network.

Importance: Important, esp. for bigger dogs.

Bottom line: Protection for dogs' soft paws after an emergency situation, which often involves sharp debris or flooding situations.

Be aware: You have to first condition your dog to get used to wearing booties. And it's likely to take a while. See notes below, and a separate review from a tester in Chicago. 

Key advice: "The first time you put the booties on, your dog will act weird," says Franklin. "With dogs, consistency is everything. And they have a short attention span. So start with those two minutes a day and work up to five minutes the next week. Then ten, and so on. Eventually you will only have to put the booties on once a month to remind the dog what they feel like."


Importance: Handy.

Bottom line: A LED light that attaches to the dog's harness so your pup can be easily spotted in low light. A good safety addition for both you and your animal. Waterproof, rechargeable, and VERY bright.  

Be aware: Lasts about 20 hours on a charge. Can be recharged using a USB.

Importance: Handy for pet owners.

Bottom line: Pet owners who have to hit the road with their pets may find a lightweight, collapsible water and food dish like the Ruffwear a sanity saver. Your pet will already be stressed out enough in an emergency situation. This one is tough and works well.

Recommended for: Go bag, vehicle kit.

You'll also need: Clean water. (Your dog or cat needs to have their water decontaminated, too!)

Key advice: Our resident dog expert, Jeff Franklin, counsels that you should pack a week's worth of dry dog food in a Ziplock in both your go bag and vehicle.