emerg prep pets 270We’ve all been through some drastic lifestyle changes over the past few weeks; social distancing and social isolation aren’t behaviours that the majority of us have ever had to adhere to.

This has caused varying degrees of panic among consumers, as grocery stores are being emptied of everything from canned goods and frozen vegetables, to toilet paper and cleaning products.

As an unfortunate side-effect to the panic and hysteria, many animal shelters are reporting an influx of pets being surrendered by owners who either don’t feel capable of caring for them in isolation, or are concerned their pet may spread COVID-19. Just to clarify, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.

Additionally, many pet owners are worried they simply don’t have the financial resources to adequately care for their pets during a time when they feel pressure to stock up on supplies for their family.

For many of us, COVID-19 has been a bit of a wake-up call. While Canada’s supply of goods remains strong during this pandemic, that may not always be the case. Are we really prepared to provide for our families if there are interruptions in the supply chain? And how should pet owners prepare to ensure their pet’s needs are met during uncertain times?

Every pet owner’s emergency preparedness plan will vary depending on the species and number of pets in their care. For the vast majority of us, however, we’re preparing for dogs and cats. While everyone’s situation is unique, there are some essential precautions all pet owners should implement.

Identification is Imperative

First, and most importantly, ensure your pets have collars with legible identification tags. Many identification tags, especially aluminum, can easily wear out and tarnish. If your pet has a microchip, have it scanned annually to ensure it hasn’t moved. Secondly, take a photo of each of your pets, and create a basic form with their photos, names, and emergency contacts. Keep it somewhere easily visible, on your fridge or by the front door. If anything happens to yourself, or your home, then emergency responders can quickly locate them and contact someone to take care of them. Be sure to include the number for your veterinarian, basic health history, and a list of any medications your pets take.

Create a Pet First Aid Kit

Having first aid essentials readily available to treat a pet accident or injury is crucial. Making a pet first aid kit is simple.

In addition to the list of emergency contacts mentioned above, a pet first aid kit should include: disposable gloves, absorbent gauze pads, cotton balls/swabs, adhesive tape, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, ice packs, tweezers, scissors, thermometer, oral syringe or turkey baster, towels, dishwashing detergent, styptic powder, flashlight, pencil and paper, and over the counter antibiotic ointment.

Take a Pet First Aid Course

At minimum, everyone should have an understanding of basic first aid and CPR for both humans and pets. Knowing what to do in an emergency situation can mean the difference between life and death.

Consider registering for a pet-specific CPR and first aid course. Organizations like St. Johns Ambulance offer these services from qualified instructors. Canadian Pet Connection regularly holds first aid classes for pets with an instructor, as well.

Stock Up On Pet Essentials

In time of emergency, having a sufficient supply of pet food is often not the first thing that comes to mind. This is why it is wise to ensure you have enough pet supplies to last for up to four weeks. In addition to a complete first aid kit, essential supplies for most pets include food and litter.

Dry pet foods are commonly good for up to a year past their date of production, however they can be frozen, extending their shelf life for up to a year or more. Additionally, consider keeping some canned pet food as part of your reserve supply; canned pet foods have long best before dates, and can stay in storage for a couple of years in some cases.

Get a Travel Carrier

In some instances, your pets may need to be transported out of your home quickly. This could be due to severe injury, a house fire, or more. During times of emergency, tension runs high and animals may react unpredictably as their fight-or-flight instincts take over. This not only puts the animal at risk of injury, but yourself as well.

A proper, sturdy carrier ensures your pets can be moved in a safe and controlled manner.

In uncertain times like these, being prepared is paramount. Make sure to cover all of your bases, by including your pets in your household emergency preparedness plan.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon holds multiple certifications in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years' experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.