Senior Care Blog Wayland and Weston

Tips for Protecting Your Aging Parent's Pet during an Emergency

By Denise Roskamp

Caregivers in Ashland MA

September is National Preparedness Month. As a family caregiver for your elderly adult this is the perfect opportunity for you to evaluate the plans and measures that you have put into place to help your parent manage an emergency or disaster situation and make meaningful changes to ensure that they are as effective as possible. If your aging parent has pets, these preparedness plans should also include these furry companions. Having a pet can make a tremendous difference in your parent's health, well-being, and quality of life, and it is your responsibility to return the favor by helping them to stay safe and healthy if there is an emergency.

Use these tips to protect your aging parent's pet during an emergency or disaster situation:

• Make sure that they have identification. Even the most loyal and well-trained of animals might get agitated and nervous during a disaster and could get away from your parent. This could be a very dangerous situation for the pet and very upsetting to your loved one if they are not able to find their pet. Make sure that these pets have proper identification that can help them to get back home. This includes tags for their collar as well as microchipping if available.

• Make them an emergency kit. Just as your aging parent needs an emergency kit full of supplies to help them through such a situation, their pet should have one as well. This kit should include the same types of items that are in your parent's kit, including food, water, and any medication that they take, as well as other pet-specific supplies such as an extra leash, chew toys, brush, and soft muzzle.

• Bring them inside. Even if your parent does not need to evacuate, as soon as a disaster begins, they should bring their pets inside. This will protect them from the weather and also help to prevent them from getting aggressive out of fear.

• Have sanitary supplies available. You may not be able to bring your parent's pet outside to relieve themselves during an emergency situation. Prepare for this possibility by having puppy pads or newspapers on hand to manage these sanitary needs. Be sure to wrap them thoroughly so that they can dispose of them properly after the disaster.

• Have a backup system. If your parent needs to leave the home due to an emergency situation, it is essential that they do not leave their animals behind. Animals that are left in an emergency are likely to not survive or to get out of the home and run away. Instead, have a backup system available so if your parent needs to leave the home there is somewhere for their pets to receive care. Some emergency shelters allow animals, while others do not. Talk to friends and family about the possibility of your parent and their pets, or just their pets, staying with them throughout an evacuation so that they are kept safe and well cared-for until they can return home.