Emotional Support Dog lost carrying a big stick

Pet Disaster Preparedness: What to Do if Disaster Strikes

Everyone thinks that they are prepared for anything and everything, until on some idle Tuesday afternoon, disaster strikes.

And boy, does it tend to strike hard.

When it comes to our pets, we always think that we have control over them, when in reality, we have little to no control. Dogs, in particular, are independent thinkers and tend to go and do whatever they want whenever they want.

A dog or pet owner may have thought of every possible scenario that their pet could get into and still have a million other possibilities floating around in the universe that never crossed their mind.

There are some situations that if a pet disaster occurs could leave the owner in a very sticky situation, that might affect their mental health and emotional stability. For example, if some sort of issue befell a service dog, the owner who needs assistance could be left high and dry with no help or way to help themselves.

Another example could be something happening to an emotional support animal that a person relies on for support, solace, and comfort. If unexpected disasters happen to service dogs or emotional support animals, the people who rely on their support will be left isolated and alone, which could worsen their need for an emotional support animal.

These reasons are why you should try to be as prepared for every possible disaster situation that could suddenly occur and blindside you. By have a general understanding of what to do in these situations, you are more likely to be able to help your pet or your emotional support animal recover and thus help yourself in the long run.

So what are the most common unexpected pet disasters to befall pet and emotional support animal owners? Let's get into it and talk about what these disasters are and how you can take immediate action to help your pet.

Disaster #1: Your Pet or Emotional Support Animal Gets Lost

This is one of the biggest nightmares of pet and emotional support animal owners. The fear of your pet is injured, stolen, or lost is crippling because pets become part of the family. It can feel like a child or sibling is missing.

This first step in this unexpected disaster is to try to prevent it from happening altogether. If you let your animal out to play in the backyard, make sure you have a gate with no holes or exits that keep them in the yard.

If you do not have a fence, invest in a playpen that your emotional support animal cannot burrow under or jump over and run away. You could also get an electric collar fence that gives your dog a gentle electrical shock if they cross the wiring underground. This keeps them on your property.

Another method is to have your emotional support animal or dog microchipped is they often run away or get lost. This way, you can track their GPS location and find them quickly.

This option is fantastic for those who can afford it, but microchipping can be very expensive.

If your emotional support animal or pet does manage to get loose despite your best attempts to keep them in your yard, or they wander off at the park, you should take steps to find your pet or emotional support animal as soon as possible.

If your animal has identification tags, bring their papers with you, and drive or walk to all the locations that they like to go to. Sometimes animals will go to places that they know. You should leave someone at home to wait in case your pet or emotional support animal finds their way back home.

While you are going around and searching, you should post flyers with a picture of your pet or emotional support animal, their name, age, and breed, as well as your phone number. This way, if anyone finds your pet, they can make contact with you. Make sure you take your phone with you while you are searching.

If your pet has a favorite treat or toy, bring it with you as a way of enticing them out.

Disaster #2: Your Pet Eats Something Toxic

Grapes can be toxic for some emotional support animals

If your pet or emotional support animal is interested in eating everything they see, they are bound to eat something toxic or inedible at some point. Puppies and grazing animals are the most common culprits of eating toxic things since they do not know any better.

If your pet or emotional support animal suddenly begins to show signs of nausea, such as vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, or crying, you should call your vet. This does not always mean that your pet has ingested something toxic, but it could be the case. A vet should be able to help solve the mystery.

If you see your emotional support animal or pet eating something toxic, you should immediately call the Animal Poison Control Center and tell them what your animal ate. They will ask for information on what your animal is doing, what breed or species they are, and their age.

They may tell you to take your dog to the animal hospital or the vet or tell you that your animal should drink water. Do exactly as the operator tells you because it could save your pet or emotional support animal's life.

Do not try to become a medic from instructions online. Depending on what type of animal your emotional support animal is and what they ate, things like inducing vomiting, flushing it out with water, or medicating the animal could be counterproductive and wind up harming your pet even more.

The best way to avoid this disaster is to keep a close eye on your pet or emotional support animal if you bring them outside to play. To young animals and vegetarian animals, any plant is usually fair game unless it smells funny.

Another way to prevent your pet from eating something toxic is to educate yourself on what they can and cannot eat. Once you know that, you can be a little bit more relaxed by removing those types of plants or things from your yard or home, or by preventing your pet from getting access to it.

Disaster #3: Natural Disasters

Protect your ESA dog during natural disasters

The one type of disaster that is not pet or animal induced is when the environment acts up. There is almost nothing you can do to prevent natural disasters like floods, storms, and tornadoes, but you can prepare.

To prepare for a natural disaster in terms of what your pet or emotional support animal will need, you should think of things that they need to live. These include things like food, water, medicines, and so on.

If you have a storm shelter for tornadoes, keep pet food and medications in the shelter. Create a bedding area, toys, and other things that your pet or emotional support animal will need for several days, in case something happens, and you are stuck in the shelter for several days.

For areas with high evacuation risks during the hurricane season, you should have evacuation kits ready for all your pets and your emotional support animal. An evacuation kit should include about two weeks' worth of food, water, and all the medications your pets need. Get crates or cages with clear labels that detail your pet's information, your contact information, and general care.

You should bring plenty of products for your pets to use the bathroom, such as litter box, poop bags, or pee pads. Make sure you have your pet's original medical files and vaccination records. If your pet is an emotional support animal, make sure that you have the certificate that details the legitimacy of your pet's role as your emotional support animal.

Bring strong leashes, harnesses, and collars with identification tags that also have your contact information on them. If your pet or emotional support animal has been microchipped, make sure that you have their chip number or tracing information in case you and your pets get separated, or they get lost.

If you receive information about a natural disaster happening in your location, but you are not home to take proper action, have a neighbor, family member, or close friend who is willing to help your pets if a disaster strikes.

Your pets may benefit from having anxiety medication administered to them during a natural disaster that is highly stressful. A highly stressful disaster could be a flood, an evacuation (the change of environment is considered stressful,) moving into a storm shelter, or after an earthquake.

Just because these are the three most common forms of pet disasters does not mean that they are the only ones. There are plenty more pet disasters that can strike at any moment. Do some research on your pets, and what specific disasters tend to strike their particular breed or species.

You can then use that information to your benefit, and actively try to prevent those things from happening.

Stay safe and good luck!

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