It’s not something anyone likes to think about, but an unexpected natural disaster could destroy your home, leaving you scrambling to find food, shelter, and a way to rebuild your life.
This scenario is even more daunting if you have pets in the house. While you may be confident in your own ability to weather any storm, it’s another thing to ask your dog to do the same. After all, they won’t understand what’s happening, and they may not adjust well to living in an emergency shelter or other temporary housing.
That’s why it’s so vitally important to have a plan in place before disaster strikes. Knowing how you’ll handle the worst-case scenario will give you an important head start when dealing with an extreme scenario, and that could be the difference between a relatively easy transition and one that’s traumatic for both you and your dog.
In the guide below, we’ll show you everything that you need to be prepared for when disaster strikes.
While extreme and unexpected weather is always a possibility, you likely have a good idea of what potential disasters could occur in your area. As a result, you should already know which situations are most likely to affect you and what you need to plan for.
However, many disasters share common traits and require you to take the same steps to prepare for them. So, let’s first cover universal tips that can aid you in the event of any disaster.
The above list presupposes that you’ll be evacuating with your pet. However, if you plan to shelter in place, you’ll still need to do all of the above, but you should also make sure you have a battery-powered radio, several flashlights and candles, and plenty of clean water on hand while you ride out the disaster.
Now that we’ve covered general emergency preparedness, let’s look at how to deal with specific disasters.
Floods and hurricanes require you to take similar steps to be prepared, with one key difference: A hurricane will give you plenty of warning, whereas a flash flood could happen almost immediately. So, if you live in an area that’s prone to flash flooding, you need to prepare well before the first cloud forms in the sky.
In addition to the general tips above, you should also:
Earthquakes strike with no warning, but they’re generally limited to a few locations. If you live in a place that’s prone to earthquakes, it’s essential to know what to do if the ground starts rumbling.
Tornadoes don’t offer much more warning than do earthquakes, but you should have at least a few minutes to prepare for one. Here’s what you should do if you hear a tornado siren going off in your area.
Fires are extremely common and they strike without warning. You may only have a few minutes to evacuate with your dogs, so it’s important to know what to do ahead of time.
What to Do If Your Dog Becomes Lost After a Disaster
Despite your best efforts, there’s always a risk that you could become separated from your dog. If that happens, there are steps you can take to make it more likely that you will be reunited.
The advice below assumes that your dog is microchipped and has proper identification on them; otherwise, those are the first two steps you should take.
How to Help Your Dog Cope With the Aftermath of a Disaster
Just because your dog made it through the disaster physically unscathed doesn’t mean they won’t have mental scars from the experience. Dogs thrive on routine, so all the upheaval that a disaster creates can send them into a tailspin.
That's especially true if they have to live in a shelter or temporary housing rather than being allowed to return home. The stress can be mitigated somewhat if they’re allowed to stay with you, but even then, they’ll likely be unsettled by the experience.
Once you’ve identified that your dog is having issues dealing with the disaster, you’ll need to take steps to help them. Fortunately, most of the things that you can do are both free and easy, so there’s no reason for your dog to keep suffering.
It’s important to remember that your dog is being placed in an unusual, stressful situation. As a result, they may not be themselves for a while.
They may be more likely to lash out or show aggression, so treat them cautiously, and never leave your children unattended around them. Even a trusted family pet can be capable of behaving dangerously when they’re under a ton of stress.
There’s No Reason That You and Your Dog Can’t Emerge From a Disaster Relatively Unscathed
Surviving a disaster is never easy, and it’s even harder when you have a pet to think about. That’s why it’s essential to plan before disaster strikes, so you’re prepared for anything Mother Nature can throw your way.
If you take the time to prepare for the worst-case scenario, you’ll give both your dog and your family the best possible chance of coming out of the disaster intact — and more importantly, the chance to come out of it together.
Featured Image Credit: Budimir Jevtic, Shutterstock