Preparing pets for a natural disaster

June is National Pet Preparedness Month and is a great reminder to all of us to include pets in our natural disaster preparation. Extreme weather conditions are scary and unpredictable, making it critical to have a disaster plan in place for everyone both at home and at work.

In 2018, the United States saw 14 natural disaster events that caused a devastating loss of life.1 As veterinarians, we have experience with some of these extreme weather conditions and have seen the impact on both human and animal lives. Prior to a natural disaster, pet owners can prepare by assembling an evacuation kit that includes first-aid materials, veterinary medical records, proof of ownership such as microchip information, medications, travel supplies such as  pet carriers, and sanitation items including litter boxes.

Did you know that pet health insurance can also be part of disaster preparedness planning? It can help pet parents handle the costs associated with serious injuries and illnesses pets may face after a natural disaster including:

  •  Respiratory injury due to near drowning in floods or smoke inhalation from wildfires
  • Injuries from falling debris during hurricanes and tornadoes
  • Exposure to contaminated water during floods
  • Dehydration from water scarcity during extreme weather
  • Heat exhaustion and heat stroke from power outages after hurricanes
  • Infectious disease (toxoplasmosis, west nile virus, heartworm disease, leptospirosis, etc) exposure after floods
  • Fear, anxiety, and other behavioral changes that develop after extreme weather conditions

According to one Petplan Pet Insurance paid claim in 2018, “Stella”, a terrier mix living in California, was rescued by firefighters after being caught in a devastating fire. She suffered from severe smoke inhalation and due to the diagnostics, oxygen therapy, and intensive supportive care she received from her dedicated veterinary team—she survived!

Everyone lives in a potential disaster zone. It’s not a matter of if a disaster will strike, but when. Incorporating pet health insurance with comprehensive coverage as part of disaster planning can bring peace of mind to your clients during a time already fraught with uncertainty. Encouraging clients to make a plan, practice it, and stay informed helps pet owners stay calm and results in the best possible outcome for everyone.

For more client resources be sure to visit:

Written by Aliya McCullough DVM, MS 


1. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2019).

*Names have been changed to protect privacy



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