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How to Protect Pets During an Earthquake: Complete Guide

If you live in an area where earthquakes are frequent, then you’re probably wondering what you need to do to get your family prepared in case of an emergency. When most of us take time to define what our “family” means to us adequately, we usually include our four-legged children into the mix. So, it’s not surprising that you’re trying to protect your pet during an earthquake since many pet owners plan to do the same.

To protect your pet during an earthquake, you need to start making an earthquake preparedness checklist; then, you need to make an earthquake emergency plan and an earthquake kit with your pet in mind. 

Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today explaining how to protect pets during an earthquake, we made this guide to help you out. Below we’ll cover how you can make an earthquake preparedness checklist, an emergency plan, and an earthquake kit for your pet below.

Dog Under Red Blanket

Create an Earthquake Preparedness Checklist

The first thing you’ll need to do to protect your pets during an earthquake is to create an earthquake preparedness checklist. We’ve created one below that you can modify to fit your needs. Following the tips below should help you and your pets stay safe during an earthquake.

  • Ensure that your pets all have proper identification tags. You’ll want pets that can use collars, tags, and microchips to have all of these options on them in case of an emergency. To make sure your pet stays safe, always keep a proper ID tag (Click to visit Amazon Product) on your pet. 
  • Get familiar with hiding spots your pet might run to when it’s afraid. Certain types of pets, and especially cats, run for cover when they are scared of something. Make sure you know where your pets tend to hide so that you can get them out quickly in case of an emergency. 
  • Make sure you have updated health information about your pet. If you wind up losing your pet or your animal has to go to a shelter, it could pick up a disease if you haven’t kept up to date with shots. Also, after you are reunited with your pet, you’ll want to visit your vet to get a check-up. 
  • Purchase a pet alert sign and make sure you display it on your place of residence. These stickers let first responders know what types of pets you have inside of your home in case of an emergency. 
  • Make sure you have a copy of your pet’s medical record and a current photo available in case of an emergency. You can put this info in your emergency kit or stash it somewhere online so you can access it later. You’ll need this information if you lose track of your pet, and you need to contact local shelters. 
  • Make an emergency earthquake pet kit. We’ll discuss how you can do this in a little more detail below. You’ll need to include things like shot and vet records, pet medications, as well as food and water. 
  • Remember, aftershocks are also inevitable after an earthquake, so you’ll need to keep a careful eye on your pets and keep monitoring them so that everybody makes it through the aftershocks safe and unharmed.
  • Also, check animal shelters if you wind up losing track of your pet during an emergency. 

Other Ways to Get Informed

There are a few other things you can do to stay informed during local emergencies. We recommend the following:

  • Make sure you know what types of disasters can impact your area. While earthquakes might be your most pressing problem, while you are preparing, make sure you are ready for all kinds of emergencies in case of evacuation. Also, make sure you have plans to find a shelter.
  • You should purchase an NOAA Weather Radio and keep it tuned in to your local emergency station once you get any mobile alerts about poor weather conditions near you.
  •  Download the FEMA app and allow the app to send you weather alerts from the National Weather Service. You can subscribe to get weather updates for up to five different areas in the United States. 

Now that you have a general idea about making an earthquake preparedness checklist for pets and some resources you can use for information during a storm, it’s time to learn how to make an earthquake emergency plan before anything terrible happens. 

Make an Earthquake Pet Plan

Whenever you might encounter a potential earthquake issue, you’ll want to make sure you’ve created an earthquake pet plan to keep your animals safe. When making an earthquake pet plan, the most important thing to remember is that you need to make the plan before anything happens. The whole idea is to be prepared for an emergency so that everybody escapes unharmed.

To help you start planning, we’ll review how you can make an earthquake pet plan since you most likely don’t want to leave your pets behind during an emergency. Here are a few things you can consider when making your earthquake pet plan:

  • Use a buddy system because things can happen when you aren’t home. Talk to a neighbor, you trust and make sure you can both check on each other’s animals in case of an emergency, and in case the other party isn’t home.
  • Start identifying shelters in your local area that might work for you. Unfortunately, most emergency shelters won’t take pets because of health concerns. However, some do, so search around locally for them.
  • Find pet-friendly hotels that you’ll find on your evacuation route in case you need a few options for places to stay. Make sure you put a list of these types of hotels, their addresses and phone numbers in your pet’s kit.
  • Also, find some pet boarding areas and animal hospitals, too, that will be near to your route. Make sure you also include names, addresses, and phone numbers of these in your pet’s kit.
  • You can also make plans with an out-of-town friend or relative so that you have a place to go and take your pets in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you have plenty of resources for vets in the area just in case your pet needs some medical care. Include all vet addresses and phone numbers in your kit, too.
  • Make sure to microchip all of your pets. Also, for pets that can wear collars, keep ID tags on all of your pets and make sure you keep the information on the ID tags up to date just in case your pet gets lost.
  • Make sure you have your pet’s shot records and medical information with you. It’s a good idea to keep a back-up in your emergency kit. If you are keeping your pet at a boarding kennel, with a vet, or in an animal shelter, you’ll need these medical records.
  • If you find out that you have to leave your pets at home before you evacuate, take all the precautions you can to make sure they stay safe. However, keep in mind that leaving your pets behind can put them in a lot of danger.

Larger Animals

If you own any larger animals, like horses, goats, or pigs, then you’ll also need to make preparations for them before an earthquake. Here are our tips for dealing with larger animals during an earthquake:

  • Make sure that all of your animals have some identification on them in case they get lost. That way, if they are located, they can be returned to you.
  • Evacuate your animals if you can do it. While it is more difficult to move larger animals, if you plan correctly, it can be done. You should map out some routes in advance.
  • Make sure you’ve got vehicles and trailers to transport these types of animals away from any danger. 
  • While the animals are traveling, make sure they have all the food, water, and equipment they need.
  • If you cannot evacuate your larger animals, then you’ll have to figure out if you can move them to a shelter or allow them freedom outside. 

You’ll need to spend some time watching your livestock and making sure you don’t find any diseases or injuries among your animals. Most of the time, cold-weather injuries or death occur during natural disasters and usually affect young animals, or animals that are already injured or ill. 

One thing that might be difficult to detect on your animals if you live in a colder area is frostbite. If your animals were left outside in the cold after an earthquake evacuation, you’d need to scrutinize them for this.

It can take two weeks before the frostbite becomes evident to you and your animal, and by then, it’s too late. The damaged tissue will start to fall away. You’ll have to talk to your vet and seek treatment at that point. 

If you live in a colder climate and you may need to evacuate and leave your larger animals behind due to an earthquake, there are some precautions you can take to help prevent cold-weather injuries and illnesses during that time. Below we’ve listed a few tips.

  • You need to make sure there is dry bedding in covered areas to help insulate essential areas on your animals from the cold winds.
  • Use windbreaks, as they keep animals warm when it’s freezing outside.
  • Don’t forget to leave out plenty of food and water. 

Building an Earthquake Pet Kit

Now that we’ve covered how you can make a plan and we’ve given you some tips to help your larger animals during an earthquake, we’ll cover in detail how you should build your earthquake pet kit. Your earthquake pet kit is the most critical part of this preparedness process. By following our ideas below, you should be ready to protect your family and your pets during the next earthquake. 

When building an earthquake pet kit, you’ll need to make sure you’ve placed the following items in your kit.

Animal Food

You’ll need a three-day supply of food for all the pets you own. Make sure you store that food in an airtight, waterproof container. Some pet owners prefer to have at least a one-week supply of food for their pets. Keep in mind that it might be challenging to go to a store and get the products you’ll need to survive at a store.

Also, pet food doesn’t stay edible forever, so you will need to change out what you have in your pet kit annually. If you feed your pet canned food, you can keep it unrefrigerated for one full day as long as you have it covered and placed in a cool area. 

Animal Bowls

You’ll need to also add some collapsible bowls (Amazon Recommendation), a serving knife, and a can opener into your kit so that you can easily give your pet’s food. 

Animal Water

Another essential your pets will need water. Set aside at least a three-day supply of water that you are keeping specifically for your animals. Remember, animals can drink water from sources humans cannot tolerate. However, if possible, boil any water you use before you serve it to your pet. Don’t let your animal drink from puddles or other water sources like that because it can lead to illness.

Animal Medications and Documents

You should include all pet medicines necessary, and all animal medical records. Also, don’t forget about other essential documents like adoption papers and registration information. It’s a good idea to get your animal microchipped before an earthquake, too, if possible. 

Animal First Aid Kit

You’ll also want to include a first aid kit that will work for your pets. Include some bandage rolls, tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea medication, alcohol, latex gloves, and saline in your animal’s first aid kit. We also recommend including a pet first aid reference book to keep on hand in case of emergencies. If you can’t make it to the vet, that can help you more easily treat your pet. 

Collar, Harness, and Leash

Also, for pets that require them, don’t forget to include a collar or harness with an ID tag, rabies tags, and a leash. 

Crate or Pet Carrier

You’ll also need to make sure you have a crate for animals that need to be placed in its crate in case of evacuation. Make sure the crate you buy is big enough for your animal to stand up and turn around in before you purchase it. 

A Picture of You and Your Pet

You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got a picture of you and your pet together with you at all times. That picture will come in handy if you wind up losing your pet. You can document ownership of your pet that way and get help from local shelters. Make sure on the picture you write things like color, gender, age, and ways you can distinguish your pet. 

Familiar Items

Include some everyday items in your pet earthquake kit. Make sure you bring along things like treats, toys, blankets, and beds. Having items that are familiar to your pets can make the evacuation experience less stressful for them. 


Depending on the types of pets you own, you’ll also need to factor in any sanitation supplies you might need. You may need to pack up some pet litter and a litter box, paper towels, plastic trash bags, and bleach. If you own a dog, you’ll need some doggie poop bags. You’ll need to be ready to clean up after your pet when you are at a shelter or other temporary locations. 

Now that we’ve covered what you’ll need to include in your earthquake pet kit, we’ll cover how you can make an earthquake plan that provides for your pet

Steps to Making an Earthquake Pet Plan

Since you should have your earthquake pet kit ready after reading our above section and you probably have a few ideas about how to make an earthquake pet plan, we’ll guide you through a few steps to ensure you’ve created a safe, effective earthquake pet plan.

Step #1: Purchase a Pet Alert Sticker

While we mentioned buying one of these already, we can’t emphasize the importance of owning one of these enough. That’s why it’s the first step we want you to take after you’ve gotten your earthquake pet kit together.

These stickers inform others, like rescue workers coming inside your home, how many people and pets live in the house. It’s best to place this on your front door or very near it since you want it to be noticeable. These stickers list the kinds of pets you have in your home and how many. You can also get a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home by going here. It takes 6-8 weeks for delivery.

Step #2: Plan a Pet-Safe Haven

Even though it is sometimes sadly inevitable that we might have to leave our pets behind during an earthquake and evacuation, never, ever do this if you can avoid it. Your pets can’t stay very safe without you and need your help and care.

The best way to ensure that you’ve got someplace to take your pets in case of an earthquake and evacuation is finding a haven that will allow you to bring your animals with you. Since not all shelters accept pets, you’ll need to know where to go ahead of time. Here is what you can do to get some help and ensure you’ll never have to leave your pets behind during an earthquake evacuation:

  • Call your vet and see if he or she has a list of boarding kennels and facilities with great care.
  • Talk to your local animal shelter and find out if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in case of emergencies.
  • Look for pet-friendly hotels and motels where you can stay with your pets safely.
  • Plan with some friends and relatives that live outside of your area to take you and your pet during an emergency. 

Step #3: Temporary Caregivers

Another way you can ensure that you won’t ever have to leave your pets behind during an earthquake evacuation is to find a few temporary caregivers that you can trust to take care of your pets. You’ll have to put a bit of time and effort into this process. You’ll need to find somebody that lives close to you, who is at home when you work or has easy access to your house, and a person you can trust.

Once you assess who you can trust with these matters, you can leave a set of keys with the temporary caregivers you select. Typically, this strategy works well when you use neighbors who also have pets. You can create a “buddy system” and swap responsibilities as needed. Chances are, people with pets of their own will also take great care of your pets. 

Step #4: Make Sure Your Kits are Ready

If you find out you’ll need to evacuate your home because of an earthquake, then you’ll want to plan for the worst-case scenario. You might assume you’ll only be gone for a day or two, but it’s best to plan farther ahead and understand you might not be returning home for a few weeks. 

Here are a few tips for you when getting your earthquake pet kit ready:

  • It’s imperative to double-check all of your animals and their ID tags to make sure everything is up to date. You want a label that lists your pet’s name, your number, address, and any medical needs if your pet has them. 
  • According to the ASPCA, you should get your pet microchipped before an emergency because it offers a permanent form of identification. Your animal will get a microchip implant under its skin. Animal shelters have scanners that can read this information efficiently.
  • As soon as you notice signs of a potential storm or disaster, get all of your animals inside for safety. When storms hit, pets can become afraid and disoriented, getting lost or injured more easily. 
  • After you make your earthquake pet kit, make sure you keep it in an area with leashes that are very close to the exit you plan on using. Also, make sure everybody that lives in the home knows where it is, what it is, and what it includes. 

Other Considerations

You’ll need to make a few other considerations to complete your plan successfully. Remember, if you live in a location that is prone to natural disasters besides earthquakes, then you’ll need to make sure you plan for other possibilities, too. 

  • Figure out a few rooms in your home that would be safe to go to in case of an earthquake. You want to make sure there isn’t flying debris or windows in these areas. 
  • Proper safe zones are usually bathrooms, basements, and utility rooms. 
  • Remember, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of clean, fresh water before you can’t access them anymore. If you lose electricity, start filling up your bathtubs and sinks ahead of time so that you have plenty of water before things get worst.
  • If you experience flooding after an earthquake, it’s best to go to the highest part of your house. Take everybody in the house and the pets with you for safety. 

Also, keep in mind that if you are evacuated to a community or Red Cross shelter, neither one of these types of shelters can take pets. They usually have an area set aside for pets, but you’ll have to secure all of your animals. With your leash, you should be able to secure certain types of animals to a fence or tree. 

Remember, you’ll need to take some time out to walk your pet and spend time with it during this stressful time. If you are dealing with a dog, remember that dogs can be very territorial under stress and get picky about their toys. It’s a good idea to give your pet a familiar blanket to lay on to keep stress levels down. 

Another good idea is to consider brushing your pet during this stressful time. Many dogs and cats love getting brushed, and the brushing process usually relaxes not only pets but also owners. It’s a good idea to have some animal grooming products in your kit, and especially a brush. 

Also, remember never to hold your animal during the shaking of an earthquake. Animals want to protect themselves when they feel in danger, and even the sweetest animal can turn on you when it thinks it is in a life-or-death situation. Make sure your pets are indoors during the shaking and find them once the earthquake is completed.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to protect your pets during an earthquake, you should be ready to set-up your kit and make your plan. With both your kit and plan ready to go, you and your pets should stay safe during the next big earthquake.

The key to earthquake safety is to plan. By using our steps and our guide, you should be able to plan effectively so you won’t have to experience additional stress during an earthquake.

For more, check out How to Survive a Tornado in the Wilderness.