Aug 24 2020

Disaster Preparedness During COVID-19

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The height of hurricane season is still a few weeks away, yet 2020 is already a record-breaking year. Hurricane Hanna, which brought flooding rains to South Texas, was the earliest storm in recorded history to begin with the letter “H”. And with the damage and destruction associated with Tropical Storm Isaias along the eastern US, this year’s hurricane season may complicate the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

With two tropical storms (Marco and Laura) heading for Louisiana and Mississippi, if you haven’t prepared an Emergency Kit and evacuation plan for you and your pets, now’s the time to make one, before landfall.

As you prepare an Emergency Kit and your evacuation plan, it’s important to consider the constraints created by the COVID-19 pandemic and plan accordingly. Veterinary clinics may not be operating at full capacity due to the pandemic; expecting to make last minute arrangements to pick up medication or prescription diets is just not realistic. It may be difficult to acquire medication or pet food for days or even weeks after a storm, so be sure that you have supplies to last at least two weeks. Find out if your public shelter is open—the location may be different this year due to COVID-19. And find out if your shelter will accept pets.

If you already have an Emergency Kit for your pet, check it to be sure that the food and water is fresh, update your pet’s health information, and check medication supplies.

Each pet needs his or her own personalized kit. The following are guidelines for preparing emergency kits for cats, dogs, reptiles, birds, rabbits, and small mammals. For more information, check the new guidelines published by CDC and FEMA that consider how best to prepare for a natural disaster during COVID-19.

Items to pack for ALL pets:

  • Proof of ownership, identification (if your pet is microchipped, keep a copy of the microchip number in your kit), and a recent photo of your pet.
  • Copies of veterinary records (including your pet’s rabies certificate and vaccination history, and heartworm results for dogs).
  • Emergency contact list and contact information for your veterinary hospital.
  • Non-spill food and/or water bowls (collapsible dishes are a great option for cats and dogs).
  • 2-week supply of food and treats. Rotate food and treats to ensure that they are always fresh. Pack food in Ziplock-style bags or water-tight containers or pack canned food. Include feeding instructions.
  • 2-week supply of water. Dogs need about 8-17 ounces of water per ten pounds body weight per day, and cats need slightly less. In other words, a 65-pound dog will drink between ¼ – ½ gallon of water daily. Keep in mind that in extreme heat and humidity, these needs may rise.
  • 2-week supply of medication and supplements. Include dosing instructions.
  • Pet first aid kit.
  • List of pet friendly hotels and pet boarding facilities.
  • Cleaning supplies including garbage bags, paper towels, disposable gloves, and hand sanitizer.

Additional supplies for cats:

  • Crate/carrier
  • A favorite blanket for bedding
  • Towels
  • Collar/harness and leash if your cat uses a leash
  • Litter box, litter, garbage bags, and scooper
  • Can opener and spoon
  • Toys
  • Brush or comb
  • Flea, tick, and heartworm preventives

Additional supplies for dogs:

  • Crate/carrier
  • A favorite blanket for bedding
  • Towels
  • Leash and collar/harness
  • Can opener and spoon
  • Toys
  • Brush or comb
  • Flea, tick, and heartworm preventives

Additional supplies for reptiles

  • Pillowcase or secure container for transport
  • Escape-proof housing
  • Bedding material (newspapers or other paper)
  • Battery-operated heating source and extra batteries
  • Water bowl for soaking
  • Water bottle for misting

Additional supplies for amphibians

  • Small transport container with ventilation holes
  • Escape-proof housing

Additional supplies for birds

  • Cage and material to line the cage
  • Blankets
  • Grit
  • Hot water bottle
  • Toys and extra cage perches

Additional supplies for rabbits and small mammals

  • Cage
  • Bedding materials
  • Water bottle

The ability to care for your pet during an emergency depends on how well you have prepared for it. If you have already prepared an Emergency Kit, take some time this week to refresh and restock. And if you haven’t prepared one, now’s the time to do it! Be sure to pack masks, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces.

Remember! Take your pets with you if you must evacuate! What’s good for you is good for your pets. Once you leave your home, you may not be able to return to get your pets right away. Leaving your pets behind can put pets, pet owners and first responders in danger. Make a plan. Make a kit.

LifeLearn News

Note: This article, written by LifeLearn Animal Health (LifeLearn Inc.) is licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of Lifelearn. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by a veterinarian.

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