Disaster Preparedness: Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit

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Pets are family – do you have a plan for your pet in an emergency? Including pets in emergency plans helps your family’s ability to respond to an emergency. Be prepared: make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pet.


Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse. Before a disaster strikes, find out what type of shelters and assistance are available in your area to accommodate pets and include pets in your family disaster plan to keep them safe during an emergency.


Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start today by including your pet in your family’s preparedness plans to protect the health of yourself, your family, and your pet.


Make a Plan

To get started, familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could affect your area and consider your options for providing care for your pet(s).


Disasters can happen without warning, so be prepared:

  • Make sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.

  • Microchip your pet(s) – this is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.

  • Purchase a pet carrier for each of your pets (write your pet’s name, your name, and contact information on each carrier).

  • Familiarize your pet with its carrier before a crisis.

  • Practice transporting your pet by taking them for rides in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuating in.

  • Practice catching your pet, if needed.

  • Keep a leash and/or carrier near the exit.

  • Make sure you have proper equipment for pets to ride in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seatbelts).

  • If you do not have a car, make arrangements with neighbors, family, and friends. You can also contact your local government to learn about transportation options during a disaster.

Sheltering in Place

When sheltering at home with your pet, make sure the room chosen is pet-friendly in the following ways:

  • Select a safe room, preferably an interior room with no (or few) windows.

  • Remove any toxic chemicals or plants.

  • Close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).


Sheltering During an Evacuation

Contact your local emergency management office and ask if they offer accommodations for owners and their pets.

If accommodations are needed for your pet(s):

  • Contact local veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and local animal shelters. Visit the Humane Society website to find a shelter in your area.

  • Contact family or friends outside the evacuation area.

  • Contact a pet-friendly hotel, particularly along evacuation routes.

  • Remember to take your pet’s emergency kit with you.

  • Make plans before disaster strikes for where you and your pets will go. Be aware that pets may not be allowed in local human shelters, unless they are service animals.

  • Check with:

    • Family or friends outside the evacuation area.

    • Pet-friendly hotels

      • bringfido.com or call 877-411-FIDO

      • dogfriendly.com or call 888-281-5170

      • doginmysuitcase.com or call 8880254-0637

      • pet-friendly-hotels.net or call 866-966-3046

      • pets-allowed-hotels.com or call 800-250-1625

      • petswelcome.com

      • tripswithpets.com


Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit

Prepare a disaster kit for your pet(s) so evacuation will go smoothly. Ask your veterinarian for help putting it together. Some examples of what to include are listed below; when making the kit, think about your pet’s basic needs, prescriptions, and paperwork.

Pet Disaster Kit Checklist for Dogs

Pet Disaster Kit Checklist for Dogs

Pet Disaster Kit Checklist for Cats

Pet Disaster Kit Checklist for Cats

Disaster Supplies for Pets

  • Leash, collar with ID, and harness

  • Appropriate-sized pet carriers with bedding and toys

  • Food (in airtight waterproof containers or cans) and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet

  • Food and water bowls and a manual can opener

  • Plastic bags for dog poop and a litter box and litter for cats

  • Cleaning supplies for accidents (paper towels, plastic bags, disinfectant)

  • Medications for at least 2 weeks, instructions and treats used to give the medications, and a pharmacy contact for refills

  • Flea and tick medication and heartworm preventative for 1 month

  • Documents

  • Photocopied veterinary records (rabies certificate, vaccinations, recent FeLV/FIV test results for cats, prescriptions, etc.)

  • Registration information

  • Recent photos of your pet

  • Contact information for you and friends or relatives

  • Boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems

  • Microchip information

  • A pet first aid book and first aid kit

  • Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers


Protect Yourself from Injury and Illness

Emergencies can put stress on both people and animals, and natural disasters can contribute to the spread of some diseases. Exposure to inclement weather conditions, stagnant water, wildlife or unfamiliar animals, and overcrowding can put both you and your pet at risk for getting sick. Some diseases can be spread between animals and people, such as rabies, ringworm, leptospirosis, and diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks like West Nile and Lyme disease.

Knowing some practical skills ahead of time will help you be prepared to prevent illness and injury during a disaster.

How to Keep Yourself and Your Pets Healthy During a Disaster

  • Wash your hands after handling your pet, its food, or its waste.

  • Do not let your pet lick your face or hands.

  • Keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations and heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives.

  • Practice safe handling of your pet, because your pet may behave differently during a stressful situation.

  • Keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash.

  • Do not allow your pet to interact with other animals, especially wildlife and stray animals.

  • Report any bite wounds to medical personnel immediately.

  • Properly clean and disinfect cages and litterboxes. Wash your pet’s bedding regularly.

  • Avoid stagnant water, especially after flooding occurring after natural disasters.

  • Don’t allow pets to play in or drink contaminated water.


What To Do if You Are Separated from Your Pet

Make sure that your family is in a safe location before you begin your search.

If you are in a shelter that houses pets, inform one of the pet caretakers. Give the pet caretaker your pre-made missing pet handout.

Once you have been cleared to leave the shelter and return home, contact animal control about your lost pet.

Last, call or log into the microchip company to make sure all the information about you and your pet is updated and current.


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How to help turtles cross the road safely

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As the weather gets warmer, turtles are more likely to be seen trying to cross roads. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has tips for helping turtles cross roads.

  • Keep your own safety in mind – be aware of traffic. Signal properly when pulling over.

  • Be careful when handling an animal – an animal crossing the street may be injured or apt to bite. The USFWS says that there are times when just standing by as an animal crosses the street may be the best way to help.

  • A car mat can be helpful – by sliding a car mat under the turtle or animal, you can help without having to actually pick it up. Also make sure to put the animal on the side of the direction it was traveling.

  • Do not try to pick up an animal by the tail – check out this video on how to help a turtle. The USFWS also recommends holding a turtle by the base of the shell and not the side.

  • Get help for injured turtles – Contact your veterinarian or a wildlife rehabilitation center if you find an injured animal.


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Tread Lightly: Snake Season & Pet Safety

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With summer in full swing, snake bites are on the rise—but understanding the reptiles’ behavior can help people and pets stay safe.

Cases of snake bites in emergency rooms are on the rise, and it will only become more prevalent as the season progresses. Snakes’ seasonal behavior is down to physiology. Like other reptiles, snakes depend on their environment to regulate their body temperature.

In the spring and fall, snakes are most active during the heat of the day. In the heat of the summer, however, they are going to be active during twilight and overnight hours, but will seek out shade and water to cool off during the daytime. Because of this, there is no time that is off limits to when your pet may encounter a snake. Weather is just one piece of the equation. With more free time and time spent outdoors in the summer, there are more opportunities for interactions.

While not all snakes are venomous, even nonvenomous snakes can bite when provoked.

Err on the side of caution. When we see a snake, we tend to be distracted or find difficulty in identifying the animal. It’s better to be safe than sorry. To minimize the chances of a snake encounter, it is important to understand what attracts snakes in the first place and what motivates them to bite.

Identifying snakes in Florida

There are several resources for identifying the common and uncommon snakes of Florida.

What attracts snakes?

Anywhere that has ample food (small rodents, birds, bugs, other reptiles), shade, and places to hide are likely going to have snakes. They try very hard to stay away from us, and only bite when they feel threatened.

Keeping Pets Safe From Snakes

When it comes to pets, the issue is that dogs and even cats tend to be curious about snakes—from cats swatting at a snake to dogs putting their faces a little too close— all of which can lead to a bite. Consistent precautions can help keep pets out of harm’s way.

Turn on flood lights, make some noise, and supervise your pets when they are let outside in the yard (especially at night). When taking your pets for a walk on a leash, keep them away from shrubbery, landscaping timbers, and vehicles parked on grass.

We do not suggest the aid of snake repellents, but rather make ones’ property less hospitable to snakes by clearing shrubs, brush, leaves, as well as removing hiding spots like wood piles or cars that have been sitting awhile.

When You Are Face to Face with a Snake

Snakes play a larger role in our ecosystem. Realize that they are not looking for a fight with humans. Without snakes, we would have an abundance of small rodents and other pests. Do not kill the snake!

Snake bites occur when people fail to keep their distance. Rather than approaching or attacking a snake, contact animal control for assistance. Animal control officers can safely capture and contain a snake before moving it to a safe habitat away from humans.

So what can YOU do? Simply keep an eye on the snake, so that you are able to help animal control locate the animal.

Did you know even a dead snake could present a threat? Although not common, it is still possible for some snakes to deliver their venom even after they have died. If you believe the snake to be dead, leave it alone for an hour and then use a tool like a shovel or a broom handle for removal.

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Removal Resources

Bradenton Wildlife Control:

(941) 404-8859

Sarasota Wildlife Control and Nuisance Wildlife Removal:

(866) 263-9453

Manatee County Animal Services:

(941) 742-5933


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Salmonella Infection in Pets & People: Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

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Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can live in the intestinal tract of many different animals. Salmonellosis (sal-mohn-el-OH-sis) is a bacterial disease caused by Salmonella.

Although Salmonella is most often spread when a person eats contaminated food, the bacteria also can be passed between people and animals. Many different animals and pets can carry these germs. Animals known to commonly spread Salmonella to humans include:

  • Reptiles (turtles, lizards, and snakes)

  • Amphibians (frogs and toads)

  • Poultry (chicks, chickens, ducklings, ducks, geese, and turkeys)

  • Other birds (parakeets, parrots, and wild birds)

  • Rodents (mice, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs)

  • Other small mammals (hedgehogs)

  • Farm animals (goats, calves, cows, sheep, and pigs)

  • Dogs

  • Cats

  • Horses

How do animals and people become infected?

Animals become infected with Salmonella through their environment, by eating contaminated food, or from their mothers before they are even born or hatched. Salmonella is naturally in the intestines of many different animals. Animals with Salmonella shed the bacteria in their stool which can easily contaminate their body parts (fur, feathers, or scales) and anything in areas where these animals live and roam (terrarium or aquarium, chicken coop, pen or fencing, countertops, sinks, etc.). It is important to know that many animals can carry Salmonella and still appear healthy and clean.

People can get a Salmonella infection if they do not wash their hands after contact with animals carrying Salmonella or their environment, such as their bedding, food, or tank water. For example, some pet products, like pet foods and treats, can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs. Pet food and treats that may be contaminated include dry dog or cat food, dog biscuits, pig ears, beef hooves, and rodents used to feed reptiles (including frozen feeder rodents). Additionally, reptiles and amphibians that live in tanks or aquariums can contaminate the water with Salmonella, which can make people sick even if they don’t touch the animal.

Who is most at risk for serious illness?

Anyone can get sick from Salmonella, but some people are more likely than others to get salmonellosis. People who are more likely to get salmonellosis include:

  • infants

  • children 5 years of age and younger

  • adults aged 65 and older

  • people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS, organ transplant patients, and people receiving chemotherapy.

Prevention

The best way to prevent getting Salmonella from animals is to always wash your hands with soap and running water right after contact with these animals, their environments, or their stool.

DO/

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and waterRight after touching animals.After touching your pet’s food (like dry dog or cat food, frozen feeder rodents) or treats (like rawhide bones, pig ears, biscuits).After touching the areas where they live and roam.

  • Use running water and soap, if possible.

  • Use hand sanitizer if running water and soap are not available.Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as a sink is available.Adults should always supervise hand washing for young children.

  • Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with animals. Do not let children 5 years of age and younger do this task. Children 6 years of age and older can help with cleaning and disinfecting but only if they are supervised by an adult.

  • Clean your pet’s cage, terrarium, or aquarium and its contents (such as food and water bowls) outdoors, if possible. If you must clean your pet’s habitat indoors, use a bathtub or large sink that can be cleaned and disinfected afterward. Avoid using a kitchen sink if possible.

  • Use a bleach solution to clean and disinfect.

DO NOT/

  • Do not let children 5 years of age and younger, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems handle or touch animals that can spread Salmonella (like turtles, water frogs, or poultry). They should also try not to touch the water from the animals’ containers or aquariums.

  • Avoid keeping live poultry, amphibians, and reptiles in homes and facilities with children 5 years of age and younger or people with weakened immune systems.

  • Never eat or drink around high-risk animals (like turtles, water frogs, chicks, ducklings), or in areas where they live and roam.

  • Keep animals away from areas where food and drinks are prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

  • Do not ask children 5 years of age and younger, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems to clean pets’ habitats and their contents.

  • Persons 65 years of age and older and those with weak immune systems should wear disposable gloves if they have to clean their pet’s habitat.

  • Once you finish cleaning, throw out the dirty wash water in a toilet or sink that is not used for food preparation or for drinking water.

What are the symptoms of a Salmonella infection?

Salmonella Symptoms in People

People infected with Salmonella might have diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Infants, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. Please visit CDC’s Salmonella website for more information.

Salmonella Symptoms in Pets

Many animals with Salmonella have no signs of illness at all and appear healthy. Pets that become sick from Salmonella infection typically have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Sick animals may seem more tired than usual and may vomit or have a fever. If your pet has these signs of illness or you are concerned that your pet may have a Salmonella infection, please contact your pet’s veterinarian.

Since there have been several pet treats recalled due to contamination with Salmonella, you should tell your veterinarian if your pet recently consumed a product that has been recalled. Do not feed your pet any more of the recalled product. Throw the product away immediately.

How can Salmonella infections be diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosing Salmonella in People

Salmonella infections in people usually resolve within 5-7 days, and most do not require treatment other than drinking plenty of fluids. People with severe diarrhea may need to spend time in a hospital getting rehydrated with intravenous fluids. Lab tests are needed to determine if Salmonella is the cause of a person’s illness. For more information about diagnosis and treatment, please visit CDC’s Salmonella website.

Diagnosing Salmonella in Pets

If you suspect that your pet has Salmonella, see your veterinarian. Salmonella infections may require prompt treatment with supportive care and fluids. If your pet is very sick, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or be hospitalized in a veterinary clinic. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of advice on your pet’s health.

More Information

Learn more about salmonellosis at CDC’s Salmonella website, which includes answers to frequently asked questions, technical information, and additional resources.


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