How to Prepare & Evacuate Your Dog from a Wildfire [Infographic]
Wildfires are unfortunately becoming a common occurrence, especially in the state of California. Give yourself and your beloved pet the best possible chance of escaping an incoming wildfire by applying the following tips to your disaster preparation and evacuation plan.
Preparing Your Dog for a Wildfire Evacuation
Most people don’t realize the seriousness of a wildfire situation until it’s too late. Start preparing your evacuation plan now, even if there is only a tiny likelihood of a fire affecting your area. The USDA’s wildfire potential map provides an indication of how likely it is for a wildfire to affect you.
Updated Microchips and Collars
Make sure your dog has a functioning microchip that’s registered with the most up-to-date information. The same applies to the name tag on your dog’s collar.
You want to make it as easy as possible for animal rescue teams to identify you as the owner of your dog in the event you get separated.
Create a Shortlist of Safe Havens
Have a list of places where you can take your dog during a evacuation. This could include friends and families outside of the evacuation zone, dog-friendly hotels, and pet shelters.
If for some reason you can’t take your dog with you when you evacuate, check with the local pet shelters. These organizations may have a list of people who are willing to offer temporary shelter if the dog is coming from pet owners affected by wildfire disasters.
Teach Your Dog the ‘Come’ Command
One of the most important commands to teach a dog is ‘come’. You want to be able to get a hold of your dog quickly, especially in a wildfire situation where every second counts.
The ‘come’ command will be handy if your dog starts to get frantic and hide in places that are difficult for you to access, such as the space underneath the bed.
Alternatives to Cars & Trucks
The story of this heroic dog owner is a good reminder that evacuation plans can easily fall apart. The car is naturally the first form of transportation that people will take when they evacuate. Unfortunately, this could lead to gridlocked traffic and cause many people to abandon their vehicles.
The above scenario can easily happen to you so have a contingency plan in place in case you aren’t able to evacuate by car. For example, a dog carrier backpack can make it much easier for you to escape with your dog by foot or by bike.
Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit
The disaster kit should contain documents such as your dog’s veterinary records, registration information, recent photos of your dog, and boarding instructions. It should also contain food and water (at least a week’s worth), a first aid kit, and some cleaning supplies.
Get Pet Rescue Stickers
You may find yourself in a situation where you can’t get to your dog before being evacuated. If that was to happen then you want to give your dog the best possible chance of being rescued.
Pet rescue stickers can be easily stuck onto the front door and windows. It’ll let firefighters or rescue teams know whether there are any animals that need to be evacuated. ASPCA provides these stickers for free! Use this form to order the stickers.
Wildfire Evacuation Tips for Dog Owners
Here are some quick tips on evacuating with your dog. It’s important to remain as calm as possible as dogs look to their owners during stressful situations.
Keep Your Dog in a Secure Place
Don’t let your dog wander around when you are evacuating. You’ll probably have hundreds of things going through your mind and the last thing you would want to see is your stressed dog jolting away from your grasp. Your dog should be kept in the travel carrier or crate until you reach a safe area.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws
Burned paw pads are one of the most common injuries that dogs suffer from during wildfire disasters. Common symptoms include visible redness and blisters, excessive licking, and limping.
As we stated earlier, it’s important to keep your dog in a secure place, such as a travel carrier, where there paws won’t be exposed to the hot ground.
Get Your Dog a Face Mask
The fine particles from wildfire smoke is another major health concern for your dog. It could be worthwhile putting a face mask on your pet, especially if you are close to the wildfire-affected area.
It’s important to find a face mask that fits your dog’s snout. A loose mask won’t provide any protection against the fine particles. Whether your dog tolerates a mask is a whole other matter.