As a pet owner, it’s important to have a plan in place when faced with an extreme weather event. For those of us who have experienced a flooding event, as many people from Queensland and New South Wales have in recent weeks, you will know how frightening this kind of natural disaster can be. Floods in particular can be especially dangerous for your pets. They can be swept away by currents and they may ingest toxic chemicals from contaminated water, among many other potential hazards. Having an emergency plan in place for your dog will help you to prepare in advance and keep your pets safe during floods and other extreme weather events.
Things to consider before the event
During a flood, your primary concern is the safety of yourself and your family which of course includes your dog and any other pets. Because floods and other types of natural disasters can escalate very quickly, it’s important to prepare for an extreme weather event before it happens.
The RSPCA South Australia has put together a pet emergency plan program for keeping your animals safe during emergencies and disasters. This is a great resource for developing your own pet emergency plan so you can plan ahead for the safety and welfare of your pets in an emergency situation or evacuation.
Some things to consider and include in your flood and emergency plan include:
- Contact details for your veterinarian
- Prepare a safe place for your pets to go in your home ahead of time – like an elevated space with food and water for them to stay at during the event
- Have some options for a safe location where you can evacuate your pet such as boarding or daycare facilities or friends/family and keep a list of their contact details for easy access
- Make sure your pet is microchipped with up-to-date identification information (name, address, phone number) and also ensure they have an ID tag or collar with this information on it
- Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date
- Have copies of all your pet’s medical records stored securely offsite in case they are lost during a flood or other natural disaster
- Make sure you have plenty of fresh water and pet food that won’t spoil if it gets wet
- Have a collar/harness/leash and transportation equipment such as a cage or pet carrier on hand in case you need to evacuate
- Pack an emergency evacuation kit including things like food and drinking water, bedding, toys, treats, leash, poo bags, bedding, a towel and any necessary medication
Ways to ensure your dog’s safety and wellbeing during a flood
Keep your dog safe at home
One of the most important things you can do for your dog during an extreme weather event is to keep them inside your home. Hazards such as high water, downed trees and fences, and other debris make it very dangerous for your dog to be outside.
If you have a fenced in backyard, then you may consider leaving your dog there. However, if the ground is too wet from rain or if there’s heavy flooding in your area, then it’s very likely it might not be safe for your dog to stay in the yard. It’s best to keep your dog inside so that he or she doesn’t get swept away by currents or ingest contaminated water, and to ensure they keep well away from any other potential hazards. If you have more than one pet at home, designate a safe space for them all—and make sure they’re not fighting over territory!
Follow Your Evacuation Plan
If you do need to evacuate during a flood, follow your evacuation plan and find appropriate shelter for you and your dog somewhere safe, dry and outside of the danger zone as soon as possible. Use a leash, harness or pet cage/carrier to keep your dog close to you. Pay close attention to the local authorities and emergency service warnings. If your plan is to take your dog to a doggy daycare or boarding facility or to a friend or family member, only drive if it’s safe to do so.
If you do need to leave your dog at home temporarily for any reason or while you get help, move them inside to a safe and dry area in the highest level of your home and make sure they have plenty of food and water. Never leave your dog outside or chained up during a flood.
Our dogs depend on us to take care of them during floods and extreme weather events and having a plan in place is key to ensuring their safety and wellbeing during these types of emergency situations.
It is well worth your time to develop an emergency plan and create an evacuation kit for your dog and other household pets to reduce any added stress and anxiety when faced with floods and other types of natural disasters.