12 Minute Read

In Case of Emergency: Pet Prep

It’s a tough time for all of us, but if there is one group benefiting from this world-wide upheaval, it’s the dogs.

For the first time in our adult lives, we’re home more often than not. We’re spending quality time rubbing bellies, playing fetch, and making small talk with our furry friends (don’t pretend you haven’t, you’re not better than me). In a time that is, uh, how should I put this, just a total freaking cluster, we’re really leaning on our beloved pets to ease our anxious thoughts.

With safety being at the forefront of any sane person’s mind, have you taken the necessary steps to protect the pets, too?

Coronavirus may make things more chaotic, but that doesn’t mean your pets’ #EmergencyPlans need to be. Buckle down and get prepared with these 9 #PetPrep ideas from @rbm_anna: Click To Tweet

What would happen to your animals if, God forbid, you weren’t able to take care of them? Let’s be honest; this is a terrifying situation. We never know what tomorrow brings — which holds true even when we’re not in the middle of a raging pandemic! As an overprotective dog mom myself, I know how incredibly important it is to have a plan in place for the worst-case scenario. So, here I am, ready to share my overabundance of dog wisdom and knowledge to prep you and your pet for an emergency!

1. Carry a “My Dog/Cat/Parakeet is Home Alone” Card

One of the first things paramedics do as they arrive on a scene is check for identification in a wallet. Should something happen to you while you’re out of the house, keeping a “my dog is home alone” card with your ID, the responding party can identify who to contact. You want to make sure they’re cared for at all times, right? This is an easy way to make sure your pets aren’t forgotten.

2. Post “In Case of Emergency, Save My Pets” Sticker

My neighbor recently lost his house to a fire. I booked it over to his house (okay, he’s only one house away, I just walked very quickly) to let the firefighters know about his animals. Not everyone has a nosey proactive neighbor, so place an “in case of emergency, save my pets” sticker on the outside of each entrance to your house. Firefighters and other emergency responders look for these stickers to ensure they can account for all animals. Be sure to update as animals come and go! As a foster mom and a dog sitter, my number is constantly changing. My neighbors would (hopefully) be able to identify the three dogs who are mine, but they don’t always know about any additional pets in my house that are a short-term foster.

Want to get your first sticker free? The ASPCA includes one in their Pet Safety Pack.

3. Have the Necessary Items Visible and Within Arms Reach

The mound of leashes looped around my doorknob sure isn’t helping the aesthetic of my house, but in case of an emergency, my beloved pets can be outside (and controlled!) in just a few moments. If your pups don’t wear collars around the house, make sure those are within arms reach as well.

If someone has to pick up your pets because you’ve been admitted to the hospital, imagine a friend or family member having to search through the junk drawer for that hardly used collar! Keep any cat carriers in easy-to-find locations so they can be safely contained in a comfortable space before leaving the house.

4. Keep Identification Up-To-Date

Speaking of collars, ensure your pets have up-to-date identification on them. Whether it’s an adorable stamped tag from Etsy or a piece of duct tape with your phone number and any special needs, this can help keep your animals safe if they slip out the door. It might just be a signal that your cat isn’t a stray or something as critical as your dog has to have its diabetes shots on schedule. Regardless, you want people to know how to get in contact with you should your pets get loose.

5. Set Your Back-Up Contact

Have a plan B, plan C, plan D — you get the point — for who will be watching your animals if you’re unable to care for them. Ensure your parents, siblings, friends, and neighbors know this is in place, as you never know who will find out about your emergency first! Discuss each pet’s basic routine and medical needs with your designated people so that they’re aware and ready at a moment’s notice.

6. Write Instructions for Each Pet

As any good overprotective dog owner would do, write out instructions to care for each of your pets. Include evvvvery tiny little detail about their routine, personality, and quirks. Make sure whoever is coming to pick up your pet knows everything you do:

Does your boy start fights over toys? Put it in there. Is there a specific order the dogs need out of their kennels? Add that, too. Will your girl who loves to dilly-dally around the yard come running if you yell, “want a cookie?” You bet they’ll want to know that at midnight!

It may seem like overkill, but sharing what works and what doesn’t can keep your impromptu pet guardian from going insane looking for where the cat pushed its food bowl or trying to get your dog off of the ping pong table for the 2,000th time. Leave these instructions in a well-labeled envelope on your kitchen table, taped to your door, or in another obvious place that someone would find if you weren’t at home.

Bonus tip: If you have a consistent pet-sitter or dog walker who knows your pack’s routine, include their phone number on your instructions. They’ll be able to answer questions if your designated caretaker is struggling and you’re unable to communicate with them.

Oo, oo! Puppy Up has a pretty cool downloadable!

7. Have Your Vet Records on Hand.

Keep a physical copy of your vet records on hand. What happens if your plans A through Z falls through? Your dog may need to go to a boarding facility or be cared for by a shelter, and I cannot stress how important these records could be. Slip these in your instruction envelope!

So many people are focused on safety right now, but have you taken the necessary steps to protect your pets should something happen to you? Here are 9 #PetPrep plans from @rbm_anna: Click To Tweet

8. Complete an Emergency Care Authorization

Cover all of your bases by completing an emergency care authorization form for each of your animals. This form will walk you through specific line items that you should consider. If your animal were to require surgery, would you authorize it? If your animal were to fall ill, would you allow someone else to euthanize them? These care sheets bring up the tough questions that we may overlook. Many of them also permit shelters and animal control to take your dogs in, if absolutely necessary.

9. Follow CDC Food Recommendations

Whether you’re a doomsday prepper and have years of dog food ready for a crazy emergency, or you’re the laid back type of person who finds out your dogs are out of food the day you reach in the bag and it’s empty, it’s crucial to have a few weeks of kibble on hand — the CDC says so! Schedule your auto-ship on Chewy.com to send you a new bag when your current one hits the halfway mark. Your pets will be thankful for their daily meals, and your caretaker will be happy they don’t have to worry about buying their food.

Here’s the thing: I could go on about this forever! There’s nothing I love more in life than my three dogs, my horse, and the hundreds of rescue dogs who have come through my home. But first and foremost, I want to know that they’re loved, cared for, and — most importantly, safe — no matter what happens to me. The world may be chaotic and unknown right now with the Coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean your pet prep emergency plans need to be. Buckle down, and prepare their plan just in case a worst-case scenario situation happens to you. I hope and pray that you never need it, but you’ll be thankful for the peace of mind provided by having everything in order.