Planning Ahead: Your Pet Emergency Plan ⚠️

September is National Preparedness Month. And June 1 through November 30 is the Atlantic hurricane season. We are keenly aware of the power of hurricanes like Hurricane Dorian this year, and Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018.

The damage from hurricanes is life threatening and devastating, for pet parents and their pets. One way you can prepare for bad weather is to create a pet emergency plan.

Pet emergencies are emotionally stressful for your pet and you. A pet emergency plan will keep you calm and clear headed if your pet becomes sick or injured. A reminder to keep your pet first aid kit in the car.

To help you plan ahead, read the Pet Emergency Care Handbook from the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center, in Seattle, Washington. Also watch videos of different pet emergency scenarios (snake bites, ingesting chemicals, or accidents) and what to do if they happen to your pet.



Here is an outline for a pet emergency plan:

Find a local emergency veterinary clinic.
Ask for a referral from your regular veterinarian or find a clinic in your area. Keep the contact information on hand and easy to find. Find out their hours of operation.

Ask for a referral from your regular veterinarian or find a clinic in your area. Keep the contact information on hand and easy to find. Find out their hours of operation.

If you live in an area with limited veterinary care, find a state teaching hospital that provides emergency pet care.

Wherever you have to go, keep the emergency phone number in your cell phone. Make sure you have a resource to call in case of any pet emergency.


Plan a visit to the emergency facility.
If you can’t physically get there, call the facility and ask about their emergency services. Find out:

  • If they perform surgeries and what kind.
  • If they do blood transfusions.
  • If they stabilize critical animals to transport to other clinics.
  • If they care of pets overnight.

Most emergency veterinary clinics monitor sic pets after hours and over the weekend. Be sure to ask if this is the case, or if you need the transport your pet to another facility. Ask ahead of time and out where you should go next.



Ask about payment for emergency services.
Ask about the types of payment the clinic will accept. You should know that many emergency veterinary clinics ask for a credit card before treating your pet. Be sure you are prepared to pay for emergency services.

Ask about the types of payment the clinic will accept. You should know that many emergency veterinary clinics ask for a credit card before treating your pet. Be sure you are prepared to pay for emergency services.

If you can’t pay with a credit card, you may need to go elsewhere for pet care. Again, plan ahead. Keep the contact number available for other emergency veterinary clinics in your area.


Start a pet emergency file.
Keep your pet’s information in a file you can find quickly. Basic information should include:

  • Name, address and phone number of the emergency veterinary clinic you picked ahead of time, and driving directions.
  • Information you collected about clinic hours of operation, clinic procedures they offer, housing for your pet, monitoring after hours, other special policies, etc.
  • Your credit card information. If you have a CareCredit card for your pet, be sure to include that information in your files. Pet parents use this card for veterinary costs and emergencies.
  • Include a list of your pet’s allergies and medications. Be sure to note any allergies to medications.
  • Add a list of your cell phone numbers at home, work or other numbers where you can be reached.
  • Write down any supplements, medications and the dosage of any medications your pet is taking. Keep this information on an index care to hand to the receptionist or doctor at the emergency clinic.


Ask the clinic about any special procedures you need to follow.
This step may not seem important but you should think about it before an emergency happens.

For example, if you have a pet that is aggressive, the clinic’s policy might be to leave the pet in your care until the doctor can see her.

Or you might need to bring him in through the back door. Or if you cat is generally testy, she may be more difficulty to handle if she is sick or injured. You may have to leave her in the carrier.

Remind yourself that planning ahead now will help you think clearly during a pet emergency.


Create a flow chart for your pet emergency file.
A table or some kind of flowchart can help you make decisions if your pet is badly hurt or seriously ill. Again, it’s best to plan ahead when you’re calm and thinking clearly. Best to avoid making rash decisions in an emergency situation.


Here’s a list of questions to think about:

What type of surgery would I approve for my pet? Would I approve back surgery? What about removing a major organ?

  • Write down your thoughts and follow your heart. If you don’t want these procedures for your pet, write it down when you’re in a calm state of mind.

How far will I go with treatment for my pets? Would you consider the partial removal of a wing for a bird? Or an leg amputation for an older pet?

  • Think about a plan for each pet because each situation will be different. These questions will help you set your treatment boundaries before you have to make a tough decision or one based on your emotions. Think about your pet’s quality of life.

How many invasive procedures will I allow for my pet?

  • Some procedures (exploratory surgery) are invasive. But an ultrasound can be stressful but non-invasive for your pet. Think about boundaries for invasive procedure for your pet. Write down your thought about surgery and non-invasive procedures.


How much can I afford to spend?

  • Emergency care will be expensive and sometimes we can’t spend money we don’t have.
  • Figure out how much you can spend and set your spending limit. Write it down. If the time comes, at least you’ll have a good idea of what you can spend on emergency pet care.

What about your pet’s stress level?

  • Your pet’s stress level will be tested in an emergency clinic. Your pet will be surrounded by strangers, bright lights, and barking dogs.
  • If you think an emergency clinic will overwhelm your pet, you might plan to avoid any procedures. You might want to avoid a highly stressful situation, even if your pet needs certain procedures.

What are your feelings about resuscitation and other end-stage conditions?

  • Yes, it’s hard to think about not reviving a family pet. But if your pet stops breathing, do you want the doctor to perform CPR or can you let your pet go?
  • Would you prefer to keep your pet on life support and for how long? Again, it’s best to plan ahead when you’re calm and thinking clearly.

What are your feelings about euthanasia?

  • Euthanasia is never easy to think about when it comes to our pets. But if you choose euthanasia, do you want it done at home with your family? Or in the clinic?
  • Consider if you want to keep your pet’s remains after she has passed on. Do you want a cremation service or leave the remains with the clinic?

None of these questions are easy ones. Only you can decide what’s best for your pet and your family.

Place all these questions in your pet emergency file. If the situation should arise, you can quickly put your hands on some answers.

Thanks for reading,
Dr. Pet Mom

“The little furry buggers are just deep, deep wells you throw all your emotions into.”
–Bruce Schimmel

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