Our pets enrich our lives in more ways than we can count. In turn, they depend on us for their safety and well-being. The best way to ensure the safety of your family is to be prepared with a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan includes your pets. And just like any other family member, pets deserve to be cared for and protected. Being prepared can help save lives.


The American Red Cross has developed Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid, comprehensive guides to help keep pets healthy and safe. These guides offer information pet owners can trust like:

  • Basic responsibilities, such as spaying/neutering and giving medications
  • Tips for preventative care and checking your pet’s vital signs
  • More serious skills, such as managing cardiac emergencies, bleeding, and seizure

The skills you’ll learn in the 35-minute online course will allow you to help treat your cat or dog until veterinary care is available. Your first aid knowledge can save your pet’s life.


The award-winning American Red Cross Pet First Aid app is the perfect on-the-go reference guide for pet owners to have on their smartphones. App features include:

  • Instant access to expert advice, an animal hospital locator, and pet-friendly hotels
  • Signs of what is normal and healthy for your dog or cat
  • Step-by-step instructions, videos, and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations for dogs and cats, e.g., CPR techniques
  • Programmable ‘click-to-call’ button to quickly contact your veterinarian
  • Tips on how to give your pet medications
  • Pet profile for storing tag ID, photo, and medical information
  • Interactive quizzes to test your pet care knowledge
  • Content on how to include your pets in your family’s emergency plans and much more


Having a plan for your pet in place in the event you must leave your home due to an emergency or disaster. Remember to:

  • Familiarize yourself with pet-friendly hotels and motels, especially ones that accept pets during emergency evacuations
  • Have a list of people (friends, relatives, neighbors, veterinarians) who can help care for pets in case of an emergency
  • Keep contact information handy for animal shelters or boarding facilities that can take your pets when the places that you’ll stay at has a no-pet policy
  • Socialize and train your pets to help them better adapt to different situations and keep them calm and cooperative during an evacuation
  • Be aware of potential hazards for and changes in your pet in any situation but particularly after a disaster (e.g., nose- and ground-level debris, chemicals, toxic plants as well as increased aggression and disorientation). Consult your veterinarian for behavior problems that persist

Things to consider when assembling a portable kit with emergency supplies for your pets:

  • Ensure that your pets have up-to-date immunizations and have copies of that vaccination record ready
  • Make sure to have current medications and extra food/water for your pets Consider pet beds and toys, if easily transportable
  • Pack a first aid kit with all the necessary supplies
  • Bring and utilize transport carriers, sturdy leashes, and securely-fastened collars as well as any identification for your pets

Prepare an information sheet with feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the contact information of your veterinarian and yourself in case you have to foster or board your pets


Extreme weather can be dangerous for your pets. The American Red Cross offers these tips you can follow to help keep your pets safe in the summer heat:

  • Don’t leave your pets in a hot vehicle, even for a few minutes. Animals can suffer from heatstroke, respiratory problems, and even death
  • Make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, cool water
  • Provide cool, well-shaded areas for your pets or bring them indoors


To learn how you can support American Red Cross safety, preparedness and relief efforts visit: https://www.redcross.org/local/texas/gulf-coast.html

Prepared by Cecilia Dao, American Red Cross contributor