Emergencies and disasters can occur at any time. Being prepared for an emergency, disaster or even unexpected situations can help to keep your pet safe and comfortable when it matters most.
Before an emergency
Know the risks
Hazards vary depending on where you live. To learn about the risks in your community, contact your local emergency management office. This can help you prepare your pets for the unexpected.
Make a plan
Having an emergency pet plan can reduce stress for you and your pet. Here are some things to think about when making your plan.
- How will you assemble and transport your pets?
- Where will you go and what will you bring?
- What are your pet’s stressors and how can you calm them?
- Is your pet friendly with people and animals?
- Does your pet have food and medications that require refrigeration?
When planning, be sure to create an emergency pet friendly contact list that includes hotels, kennels, shelters, friends and family in and outside of your community. This contact list can come in handy if you ever need to find a safe place for your pet to stay on short notice.
Emergencies can be costly. If possible, consider an emergency savings account to cover pet costs such as hotels, shelters and vet visits.
Supplies and kits
When dangerous situations arise, it’s important to act quickly. Having an emergency kit for your pet can help reduce the stress of making important decisions in urgent situations.
Download the Emergency kit checklist for your pets(printable brochure)
Printing instructions: use double-sided print setting and flip on short edge.
- Sturdy pet carrier or crate (labelled)
- Pet first-aid kit and guide book
- 7 to 14 day supply of food and water
- Food and water bowls
- Liquid dish soap, disinfectant and paper towels
- Garbage bags/waste bags for clean-up
- Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
- Blankets, towels, and toys or other comfort items
- Manual can-opener
- Recent photo of you and your pet together (proves ownership)
- 14 day supply of medications (stored in a waterproof container)
Pet specific recommendations
- Toys/comfort items
- Leash and collar
- Litter and tray (aluminum roasting pans work too)
- Harness and leash
- Cage or carrier; blanket to cover cage
- Spray bottle to moisten your bird’s feathers
- If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels that you can change frequently.
- Keep the carrier in an area that is as quiet as possible.
- Consider buying a timed feeder. If you are separated, this ensures the feeding schedule is not interrupted.
- Pillowcase or permanent housing for transportation
- Soaking bowl and heating pad
- Hamsters, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs should be transported in secure carriers with bedding materials, food and food bowls.
- Salt lick, extra water bottle, and hide box or tube
Pet first aid kit
- Protective/rubber gloves
- Rubbing alcohol/antiseptic wipes
- Hydrogen peroxide (3% strength)
- Stretch bandage or vet wrap
- Pen light
- Blanket for transport
- Cotton tipped swabs/balls
- Adhesive tape, gauze squares, gauze roll
- No stick sterile wound dressing
- Antibacterial soap
- Sterile rinse solution (saline, such as eyewash or wound flush)
- Clean syringes (1cc and 5cc)
- Splinting item (tongue depressor or popsicle stick for small pets)
- Bandage scissors
- First aid ointment or cream
- Lubricating jelly or plain Vaseline
- Corn syrup (for diabetic/low blood sugar)
- Instant cold packs
Short term housing
When registering your pet at reception centre, temporary housing, or placing your pet in care, some or all of the following items may be needed.
- Sturdy pet carrier or crate (labelled)
- Collar, harness, leash, and muzzle
- Active pet license with your municipality. If you become separated, this will assist in their return.
- Up-to-date I.D. (for example: tattoo, microchip, collar with tags, etc.)
- Current list of medications, allergies, and food restrictions
- Current vaccination records and insurance information
- Current feeding schedule and behaviour concerns, if applicable
During an emergency
During an emergency or disaster you may be directed to shelter in place or ordered to evacuate.
Shelter in place
If authorities direct you to shelter in place, follow all instructions and watch your news source for updates. These situations can last a few hours, or a few days. It is a good idea to have enough supplies on hand to last a minimum of 14 days.
If authorities order you to evacuate, plan to take your pet with you. If authorities direct you to a reception centre, it is possible your pet will not be allowed. Use your pet friendly emergency contact list to help you during this time.
If you must leave your pet behind, you can increase their chance of survival by:
- Not confining them
- Not tethering them
- Leaving out lots of food
- Leaving out lots of accessible water (such as a full bathtub or large storage bin)
Find out where your community will post information and updates during an emergency, and make sure to download the Alberta Emergency Alert app for critical life-saving alerts.
Weather alerts and warnings can help you decide on the best actions to take to protect your pets.
- Tornado: keep pets indoors
- Flood: contain them on an upper level floor
- Fire: take them to a safe place outside the zone
Use the buddy system. Ask friends, family, and neighbours to be on alert and ready to assist.
After an emergency
Research shows that having a pet by your side through emergencies and disasters can provide comfort, increase resilience and reduce recovery time.
Depending on the emergency or disaster, your home may look and smell different which can be confusing for your pet. It will be important to keep pets on leash or in a carrier so they don’t get lost or hurt.
Here are some tips to make sure your return home is as safe as possible:
- Check your home for sharp objects, spilled chemicals, and exposed wiring.
- Monitor animals closely, as these types of situations can change their behaviour.
- Only release your pets in a safe and secure place.
Where to go for help
If your pet gets lost, contact emergency animal shelters, local animal rescues, veterinarians, or animal control. If your pet is found, you will need proof of ownership. A photo of you and your pet may satisfy this request.
Your provincial and local government have a responsibility to help a community through recovery from a disaster or major emergency. However, provincial programs are never guaranteed and are not a supplement for private insurance.
Some examples of support are:
- Programs, grants and tax incentives that support reconstruction.
- Financial assistance through programs such as the Disaster Recovery Program.
- Arrange for the availability of insurance services.
- Work with local community to provide advice and the coordination of provincial support.
Visit Disaster Assistance and Recovery Support for more information.
- Speak to an insurance agent about your specific needs.
- Know your insurance policy. Make sure your home, vehicle, business and belongings are protected.
- If possible, consider an emergency savings account to cover temporary expenses while you are out of your home.
- If you can, keep emergency cash handy in case banking services are unavailable.
- If you are evacuated, keep all receipts for additional expenses.
- Prepare a detailed list (PDF, 212 KB) of all your belongings.
- Know the 7 steps for making a home insurance claim.
Staying informed during emergencies can save your life. Protect yourself and your loved ones by downloading the Alberta Emergency Alert app to receive critical, life-saving alerts.
You can also find out more information by contacting your community directly to find out where they post updated information during emergencies.
Check with your community to learn how to help others during severe weather events. If you’re concerned for someone’s safety, call:
- 211 if someone is in distress or in an unsafe place
- 911 if they’re unconscious or need medical help