Pets & Livestock

If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot

survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

If you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.

Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.


  • Be sure to have pet carriers for all your pets. If you need to go to a shelter, they may not be accepted without one.
  • Are all your pets wearing collars and ID tags with their name? If not, be sure to include information on the carrier with your name, and several emergency telephone numbers.
  • Include a photo of your pet on the carrier as well. If they escape and become lost, you or the shelter will have a better chance of finding them.
  • Do you have a friend or family member who would let you stay in the home with your pets if you had to leave? Are there pet-friendly motels nearby? Know where your local emergency animal shelter is located.
  • Carry your veterinarian’s telephone number on your list of emergency numbers in case your pet becomes ill.

Horses and/or Farm Animals

  • Know how long it will take to load your horses. Will your trailer hold all your horses or animals? How many trips would it take to relocate all of them? Have you mapped out an evacuation route?
  • Is your horse wearing a halter with his/her name, your name, your telephone number, and an emergency telephone number on it?
  • Do you know where you can go with your horses or farm animals in the event of an emergency evacuation? Is there an equine shelter in your area? Have copies of your horses’ Coggins tests in your emergency packet to present at the emergency shelter.
  • When you arrive at the emergency shelter to pick up your horse after several days, be prepared to provide identification photos and descriptions from your emergency packet to prove ownership.
  • Think about a safe place to shelter your animals on your property if you cannot evacuate them.
  • Have a plan to reinforce your barn and outbuildings and a backup plan for feeding and watering your animals should your power supply be cut off.

Cold Weather Planning for Pets

  • Know the limits: Just like people, pets' cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet's tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. A temperature of 10F or below is too cold for any pet to tolerate. Provide outdoor animals with a dry, insulated pet house or shelter out of the wind.

  • Stay inside: Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside.

  • Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.
  • Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding.
  • Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur.
  • Provide shelter: It is not recommended to keep any pet outside for long periods of time. A temperature of 10F or below is too cold for any pet to tolerate. Provide outdoor animals with a dry, insulated pet house or shelter out of the wind.Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl.) The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground (to minimize heat loss into the ground) and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment.

  • Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.