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No one wants to think their dog or cat will ever have an emergency; especially one that could potentially be life threatening.

Unfortunately, emergencies happen. Having had a couple of emergencies with two of my pets this past year (thankfully with good outcomes), I talked to veterinarians and practice managers at several emergency clinics and they offered these suggestions for pet owners. In an emergency, every second can count; being prepared is vital.


In some emergencies you may be separated from your pet. Numerous pets have been found wandering alone after earthquakes, floods, storms and wildfires. To raise the odds that you and your pet will be reunited, your pet must have identification. Hopefully your pet is already microchipped but if he isn’t, talk to your veterinarian about having it done. Then, when you register the microchip, in the details section, list your regular veterinarian’s information and give permission for your pet to be taken there if you can’t be contacted. Plus, notify your veterinarian this has been recorded so that permission to treat your pet is in your pet’s records.

If you move, change phone numbers or change anything else that’s important, change the information in the microchip registry.

Although microchips are great, I still have visible identification on my dog’s and cat’s collars. I use tags on the dogs and embroidered collars on the cats. I have this additional identification because I want something easy to read in case one of my neighbors (or someone else who may not have a microchip reader) finds one of my pets. Besides my information, I also add a friend’s contact information just in case I can’t be contacted.

First Aid Kit and Course

My friends used to laugh at my first aid kits (and yes, that is plural) because my kits are big and well stocked. But once someone needs something and I have it, they stop laughing. After previously being evacuated for wildfires and not having on hand some needed first aid supplies, I’ve made sure that my kit at home, in my truck and at work include a variety of supplies for people and pets. I include basic medications, bandaging supplies, tools (scissors and tweezers, for example) and a first aid guide.

Many veterinarians and dog trainers hold emergency pet first aid courses and these are a great idea. The courses teach basic first aid skills so that if your pet is hurt or injured, you can stabilize your pet until you can get him to the veterinarian. The courses often include a first aid book so you have a basic reference.


In an emergency, do you have a plan for transporting your pet? If your dog is big, is there room for him in your car? That may seem like a silly question, but what if someone in the family drove the SUV one day and left the compact car at home. What would you do?

For many pets, especially small dogs and cats, a crate is often the safest and easiest way to transport them. Is there room in your car for a cat or dog crate? Is your pet used to the crate? Is the crate easy to grab or is it in the rafters of the garage or buried in the basement? It’s always a good idea to have one close at hand.

I keep leashes in a variety of locations so one is always available. I have leashes in the house, in the garage and in my truck.

Be prepared to use your imagination when you need to transport your pet. A small dog or a cat can always be leashed and then wrapped in a big towel if a crate isn’t available. Practice this now though; don’t wait until your pet is sick or hurt.

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