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Monday, March 3, 2014

Pet Care Preparedness: Be Ready

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
What If?
Imagine--You've just had a car accident and landed in the hospital, having surgery and being unable to walk or communicate while sedated. What happens to your pets that are locked inside your home? One of the All Things Dog Blog staff members had an experience last week with a neighbor's dog. The story didn't go well. Read on and let's all learn from this mishap.

Thanks to Lauren for sharing her experience, and for triggering my inspiration to write about it. We hope you will take a few minutes out of your busy day to handle this very important, yet simple detail, that could save your pet's life. Thanks for reading.

This scenario scares many a pet owner when it comes to mind, especially if you live alone. There is help, however. Here's a few simple steps you can take to assure that your dog is cared for in an emergency such as the example I gave above:

  1. Hide a key somewhere outside your home for a trusted friend or family member to access.
  2. Identify at least 2 friends or family members that are local, willing and able to help with your pets in a pinch. New to the area or have no neighbors? Locate a couple of petsitters that you're comfortable with and place them on your list, described below.
  3. Add pet specific information that may be necessary for health care--medication and veterinary contact information--feeding amounts, and location of food in your home.
  4. Now create a small card that will fit in your wallet, identifying your back up team and naming the pets that need care during your emergency. Include names, phone numbers and addresses, along with a headline that indicates something such as My Pets That Need Care in Case of Emergency. In case of your unconsciousness or inability to communicate, hospital personnel should locate this card and make contact with your help team.
  5. Make a similar card, slightly larger, to place in a front window of your home, near your front door. Firefighters may use this to locate pets if evacuation is necessary, and your emergency team will have access to phone numbers of the others on your list in case backup is needed.
  6. Add pet specific information that may be necessary for health care--medication and veterinary contact information--feeding amounts, and location of food in your home.

Don't wait till you're waking up from emergency surgery and unable to act. This is a simple way to assure that your pets will get the care they need within a reasonable time after you are found to be unable to get help. Celebrate this preparation with a nice long walk in the knowledge that your pets will see you soon after your challenging time. Good luck!

Photos courtesy Mercy Hospital and 3cinevoli via

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Unknown said...

Great idea! I have plenty of family but for those who do not ... this is smart planning. Having an emergency plan for your four legged family is always a good idea :0)

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this. Very good tips and info.
Things I never think of really. Thank you for this read!
((Husky hugz))
Frum our pack at love is being owned by a husky

Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog said...

Thanks for sharing these practical tips. Having an emergency and not being able to tell someone about my pets is something I've thought about, but have never taken any steps to prepare. Think I will now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing -this is great information for all pet owners !

Unknown said...

This is something that I have never thought about before but really helpful tips! I have two black labs at home right now with my family and I am away at college most of the year and I have never really thought about if there was an emergency and someone needs to take care of the dogs. Having a card in you wallet is actually a very smart idea. The ASPCA has a great list of things to do in emergencies for you pets also! ( )

Ashe said...

Brilliant advice. Thanks. I have a friend and neighbour who visits weekly, and because of your great advice, have just shown her where the food is and how much to feed my fur kids.

James said...

I know this isn't exactly about preparing for an emergency, but I just had to pass on something I just learnt. Dogs can get hypothyoidism as well as humans. If your dog is gaining weight (for no reason), has dry skin and is lethargic, it is probably a good idea to talk to your vet about the blood tests.

Peter said...

I think this should be a required read for all dog. cat and other pet owners. I am passing it on to all my friends. Thank you.

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