This Pet Emergency Kit Checklist Is A Must If Wildfires Force You To Evacuate

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As October comes to a close, multiple wildfires are raging across California. And for those who live in an area that's been affected or is at risk of being affected by a wildfire, you may have had to consider evacuating. Of course, your own safety and the safety of your loved ones is at the top of your list — which is why a pet emergency kit checklist is a must for anyone with furry family members.

Ideally, you can create a pet emergency kit checklist that meets their needs in advance, so that you aren't running around your home trying to pull things together in a dangerous or time-sensitive situation. Many of the suggestions mentioned below can apply to most types of pets (like food and water, for example), but you also might have to add some of your own requirements based off what type of animal you have, and what their specific needs are.

Ultimately, the goal of a pet emergency kit checklist isn't to add more hassle to your life. It's to help you get yourself and your loved ones safely out of harm's way, as quickly as possible. Here are all the things you should check off the list when planning a safe and efficient evacuation for your pet:

Travel Pack Of Food & Water

This might seem obvious, but the first thing you want to do is set aside some food and water in a prepared container or bag, so that it's easy to grab when you have to go. Take some time to portion out more food than you think your pet will need, according to Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a practicing veterinarian and veterinary consultant for DogLab, a site that reviews products for dogs.

"Sometimes you may get stuck a day or two longer on your trip," she explains to Bustle. "Bringing a bottle of water for your dog to drink while on the road will help keep your pet hydrated."

You should also consider bringing a collapsible bowl for food and water, and even some dish soap to clean out those bowls each day, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Basically, whatever you need in order to feed your pet on a daily basis in a hygienic way should come with you.

Pet First Aid Kit & Guide Book

Another important thing to consider is a first aid kit for your pet, which might vary depending on the species. If you have a dog, you can consider getting something like this Adventure Medical Kit from REI or this Cat Emergency Kit from Grainger. You could always consider making your own too.

If you don't know what type of first aid kit you need, the ASPCA suggests you speak with your veterinarian about what's right for your pet.

Spare Collar & Leash

When you're running out the door, it's easy to forget the necessities. That's why you should pack a spare collar and leash for each of your pets, just in case you carry your pet to the car and it slips your mind. Even if you have the type of dog that never needs a leash, you should probably bring one in case you're in a public area where it's required.

Any Necessary Medicine

If your pet takes any sort of medication regularly (even if it's just a once-a-month supplement), you should bring it with you in your pet's emergency kit. That way, you're covered regardless of how long you're away from home. You might want to keep this medicine near your food and water rations, so that you can grab it all in one bundle when you have to go.

Pet Carrier With A Blanket & Toys

If your pet travels in a carrier, you should have that prepared and ready to go in a place where you can access it easily. And even if they don't travel in a carrier, consider bringing a blanket that they like, as well as some toys if applicable. That way they'll have some comfort items when you travel.

Proof Of Ownership & Vaccinations

In the same way that you bring your driver's license or photo ID with you when you travel, you should ideally bring a similar record of identification for your pet. This can be a proof of ownership, medical records, proof of any recent vaccinations, and more. That way, your pet has all of the necessary information to be identified.

Finding this documentation might be the hardest thing to do in a last-minute situation, which is why it's so important to plan ahead, if you can. "If you know that you are going on a trip, your veterinary office can provide you with a copy of your vaccine records," Dr. Ochoa suggests. "[Plus], a few pictures of your pet on your phone would be helpful."

Pet-Friendly Destination Options

As part of your pet emergency kit checklist, you should have a list of pet-friendly destinations you can travel to in case you're evacuated. It might be a good idea to find more than one option in a few different directions from where you live, so that you're not limited to one roadway.

One site called PetsWelcome helps you find hotels and other similar destinations that allow pets. You can also search for pet-friendly evacuation sites in your area, though those may not be posted before a natural disaster actually strikes.

Litter Materials

If you have a cat, you'll have to pack some litter so that they can go to the bathroom while you're traveling for several hours. With that said, don't be surprised if your cat doesn't use the litter during travel, according to Dr. Ochoa. She explains, "If you are going on a short trip, your cat will be fine without a litter box for a few hours."

If you want to make your checklist even more comprehensive, you can check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's site and cross-check its list with your own. And as much as you might not want to think about it, you should also consider making backup plans for your pet in case you cannot evacuate safely with them. This includes keeping track of local safe haven shelters, and appointing a pet guardian to watch over them when you can't. You can learn more about backup pet evacuation plans in this checklist by Purina.


Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, Veterinary Consultant for DogLab