Dog News

Preparing Your Dog For An Evacuation

by Amy Burkert

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This week Ty and Buster, Life with Dogs’ travel correspondents, share some tips to prepare your dog for a trip you’d rather not have to take … an emergency evacuation.

Buster: This week we’re writing to you from the gorgeous coast of Oregon. We’re loving it here, but one thing that has caught our attention are the tsunami evacuation signs.

Ty: That made us think it would be a good idea to talk about preparing your dog for an evacuation.

Buster: Hurricanes and tsunamis are not the only reasons you might be forced to evacuate your home. Floods, fires, even a fuel spill can cause you to have to pack up quickly and be away for days.

Ty: While this isn’t the kind of trip you (or your dog) are dreaming about, being prepared is important. Arrangements that include a pet require a little more planning to ensure everyone is as safe and comfortable as possible.

Traveling DogAssembling an emergency kit for your dog will save time when the heat is on. Rather than a duffel bag or backpack, put your dog’s things in waterproof containers. If his food and water are not stored properly they could become contaminated, and papers may not be useful if they get wet. These are some items you’ll want to include in your dog’s kit:

  • Enough food and water for 2 weeks, stored in waterproof, air-tight containers. If you feed canned pet food, be sure to include a can opener.
  • At least two weeks worth of any medication. If your dog’s medicine needs to be refrigerated, pack a cooler with a note to grab the ice packs from the freezer.
  • Proof of vaccination – tags may not be accepted, so include a paper copy of the record from your vet.
  • An extra collar and leash.
  • A familiar toy, blanket, or bed that will make your dog feel more comfortable.
  • Plastic bags to pick up waste.
  • A photo, in case you get separated and you need to make posters.

Packing is the first step – the second is figuring out where to go. It’s important to confirm in advance that your plans will accommodate your dog. Check with your local emergency shelter to see if they allow pets. Since most do not, these are the steps you should take to plan your whole family’s evacuation:

  • Map out two potential cities that you could evacuate to, in case the route to one is blocked.
  • Locate accommodations in each city. If you’re planning to stay with friends or family, call and ask whether they’ll allow you to bring your pet in case of an emergency. If you’ll be staying in a hotel or campground, use a website like to select a few pet friendly options. Write down their name, address, and telephone number so that you’ll be able to call ahead for reservations.
  • If you don’t have GPS, print out driving directions to each hotel or campground and keep them in your emergency kit.
  • Be prepared to secure your dog in your vehicle during travel.
  • Consider taking a crate or carrier for your dog. It will give him a place where he can relax, and it may be required if you would ever need to leave him unattended in a hotel room.

Though it’s easy to put off, it just takes a bit of time to make sure your family is safe during an emergency. Will you commit to getting your plan in place?

Also, please share your ideas! What emergency kit items did we miss? Are there any travel plans we overlooked?