Planning for Disaster

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start today by:

  • Making a plan and
  • Preparing a disaster kit

Make a Plan – Start getting ready now!

ID your pet

Make sure that cats and dogs are wearing collars and ID. Write your cell phone number on your pet’s collar. It may also be a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area—in case you have had to evacuate.

Put together your disaster kit

Assemble an emergency kit for yourself and your pet.

Find a safe place to stay ahead of time

Never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter. Before a disaster hits, call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and verify that there will be shelters in your area that take people and their pets.

Make arrangements with friends or relatives. Ask people outside your immediate area if they would be able to shelter you and your pets—or just your pets—if necessary. If you have more than one pet, you may need to arrange to house them at separate locations.

Plan for your pet in case you’re not home

In case you’re away during a disaster, make arrangements well in advance for someone you trust to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Be sure the person is comfortable with your pets and your pets are familiar with them. Give your emergency caretaker a key to your home and show them where your pets are likely to be (especially if they hide when they’re nervous) and where your disaster supplies are kept.


If you evacuate, take your pet

Rule number one: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets. Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.

Rule number two: Evacuate early. Don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. The smell of smoke or the sound of high winds or thunder may make your pet more fearful and difficult to load into a crate or carrier. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.

If you stay home, do it safely

If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.

  • Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
  • If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet’s crate and supplies.
  • Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe.

Tips for Large Animals

If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.

  • Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
  • Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal.
  • Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.
  • If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.


After the disaster

Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.

  • Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
  • While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.
  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible.


Build a Kit

Include basic survival items and items to keep your pet happy and comfortable.

  • Food. At least a three day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Food and water bowls
  • Medicines and medical records.
  • Collar or harness with ID and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

Basic Dog Training

Just five simple commands can help keep your dog safer and improve your communication with him. It’s well worth the investment of your time and effort.
The process takes time, so only start a dog obedience training session if you’re in the right mindset to practice calm-assertive energy and patience.

This is one of the easiest dog obedience commands to teach, so it’s a good one to start with.

  • Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose.
  • Move your hand up, allowing his head to follow the treat and causing his bottom to lower.
  • Once he’s in sitting position, say “Sit,” give him the treat, and share affection.

Repeat this sequence a few times every day until your dog has it mastered. Then ask your dog to sit before mealtime, when leaving for walks, and during other situations where you’d like him calm and seated.

This command can help keep a dog out of trouble, bringing him back to you if you lose grip on the leash or accidentally leave the front door open.

  • Put a leash and collar on your dog.
  • Go down to his level and say, “Come,” while gently pulling on the leash.
  • When he gets to you, reward him with affection and a treat.

Once he’s mastered it with the leash, remove it — and practice the command in a safe, enclosed area.

This can be one of the more difficult commands in dog obedience training. Why? Because the position is a submissive posture. You can help by keeping training positive and relaxed, particularly with fearful or anxious dogs.

  • Find a particularly good smelling treat, and hold it in your closed fist.
  • Hold your hand up to your dog’s snout. When he sniffs it, move your hand to the floor, so he follows.
  • Then slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head.
  • Once he’s in the down position, say “Down,” give him the treat, and share affection.

Repeat it every day. If your dog tries to sit up or lunges toward your hand, say “No” and take your hand away. Don’t push him into a down position, and encourage every step your dog takes toward the right position. After all, he’s working hard to figure it out!

Before attempting this one, make sure your dog is an expert at the “Sit” command.

  • First, ask your dog to “Sit.”
  • Then open the palm of your hand in front of you, and say “Stay.”
  • Take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays.
  • Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat.
  • Always reward your pup for staying put — even if it’s just for a few seconds.

This is an exercise in self-control for your dog, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to master, particularly for puppies and high-energy dogs. After all, they want to be on the move and not just sitting there waiting.

Leave it
This can help keep your dog safe when his curiosity gets the better of him, like if he smells something intriguing but possibly dangerous on the ground! The goal is to teach your pup that he gets something even better for ignoring the other item.

  • Place a treat in both hands.
  • Show him one enclosed fist with the treat inside, and say, “Leave it.”
  • Let him lick, sniff, mouth, paw, and bark to try to get it — and ignore the behaviors.
  • Once he stops trying, give him the treat from the other hand.
  • Repeat until your dog moves away from that first fist when you say, “Leave it.”
  • Next, only give your dog the treat when he moves away from that first fist and also looks up at you.

Once your dog consistently moves away from the first treat and gives you eye contact when you say the command, you’re ready to take it up a notch. For this, use two different treats — one that’s just all right and one that’s a particularly good smelling and tasty favorite for your pup.

  • Say “Leave it,” place the less attractive treat on the floor, and cover it with your hand.
  • Wait until your dog ignores that treat and looks at you. Then remove that treat from the floor, give him the better treat and share affection immediately.
  • Once he’s got it, place the less tasty treat on the floor… but don’t completely cover it with your hand. Instead hold it a little bit above the treat. Over time, gradually move your hand farther and farther away until your hand is about 6 inches above.
  • Now he’s ready to practice with you standing up! Follow the same steps, but if he tries to snatch the less tasty treat, cover it with your foot.

Don’t rush the process. Remember, you’re asking a lot of your dog. If you take it up a notch and he’s really struggling, go back to the previous stage.

Stages of Puppy Development

Dogs are considered puppies from birth to one year of age and go through several puppy stages and development periods. A newborn puppy doesn’t look much like a dog and goes through different stages of puppy development during his first twelve weeks. However, each dog develops differently, with smaller dogs tending to mature earlier and some large breeds not physically mature before they are two years old.

Puppy at 0 to 2 Two Weeks – The Neonatal Stage

The puppies are blind and deaf. They don’t have teeth and can’t regulate their own body temperatures.

From birth, puppies are able to use their sense of smell and touch, which helps them root about the nest to find their mother’s scent-marked breasts. The first milk the mother produces is called colostrum. It is rich in antibodies that provide passive immunity and help protect the babies from disease  during these early weeks of life.

Expect puppies at this point to sleep almost constantly and their mother will take care of everything, keeping them warm, feeding them, and keeping them clean.

Puppy at 2 to 4 Weeks – The Transitional Stage

The second week of life brings great changes for the puppy. Ears and eyes sealed since birth begin to open during this period, ears at about two weeks and eyelids between ten to 16 days. They will start to respond to sounds, light, and movement around them.

This is also when your puppy will eliminate without their mother’s help and their teeth will start to come in.

You will also notice a puppy at this point starting to get more mobile, although they will still tend to crawl instead of walking. They do, however, have enough strength to stand up, but will stumble a lot.

A puppy in this stage will just be starting to recognize their siblings and mother. They may even take a lick of their mother’s food out of curiosity at this point but still don’t need more than mother’s milk.

Puppy at 3 to 4 Weeks – Awakening of Senses

At this point, a puppy develops various senses rapidly. They start to get fully alert and aware of their environment and may recognize you and other humans that are frequently around.

During this stage, you should take steps to avoid sudden changes or loud noises since negative occasions can affect development and the dog’s personality.

It is crucial that the puppy still stays with the mother at this point since they are learning ‘how to be a dog’, how to act themselves and how to interact with others of their species.

Puppy at 4 to 7 Weeks – Socialization Period

Once a puppy is around four weeks old, they start to learn the most important things in life related to social development. They will learn to not bite all the time and how to interact with their siblings.

Interactions with humans are especially important between five and seven weeks. This is also the time they will start to understand discipline thanks to their mother. She will start weaning her puppies and teaching them manners, like acknowledging she is in charge.

As the owner, you can start introducing food to your puppy when they are around four weeks old. Start small and begin to give them more food as the mother continues to wean them.

You should also continue handling the puppy every day. However, be sure not to separate them from their siblings or mother for over ten minutes each day, since this can lead to issues with training and socialization.

Dogs who are separated too soon may also be nervous and more likely to bark and bite. During this period, let the mother dog take care of discipline; you should not correct the dog for mouthing or housebreaking mistakes until later in life.

Beginning at four weeks of age, mom’s milk production begins to slow down just as the puppies’ energy needs increase. As the mother dog slowly weans her babies from nursing, they begin sampling solid food in earnest.

Puppies may be placed in new homes once they are eating well on their own. However, they will be better adjusted and make better pets by staying and interacting with litter mates and the Mom until they are at least eight weeks old–older generally is better.

Puppy at 8 to 12 Weeks – 2nd Socialization and Fearful Period

Although not all puppies go through a fearful period, most pass through a time where they are afraid or terrified of nearly everything, including items they used to be okay with.

To help ease them through this process, avoid traumatic events, loud voices, or harsh discipline. You should also make sure your pooch has plenty of human contact during this stage. If you want, you can start leash training and even teach simple commands such as sit, down, stay and come.

In terms of development, you will notice that your puppy can sleep through the whole night and starts to develop better control of their bowels and bladder.

During this time, you should make sure you don’t bring your dog to areas un-vaccinated or stray dogs frequent since they will be more prone to a fatal disease, such as an infection.

New outings should wait until they are fully vaccinated

Puppy at 3 to 4 Months – The Juvenile Stage

At this point in development, a puppy can be compared to a juvenile. They will be more independent and may ignore the basic commands that they know very well.

You may also notice your pup starting to test your authority by play biting or similar actions. You can stop this by saying “no bite” or “no” then ignoring them for a few minutes. You can also redirect your dog to a toy that they can bite.

You should keep playing with your puppy on a regular basis at this time, but don’t wrestle or play tug of war. Either can end up teaching your pooch that it is okay to fight with you and challenge your authority.

Puppy at 3 to 6 Months – The Ranking Period

When your puppy is between four and six months old, you should expect them to be somewhat bratty, showing more willfulness and independence.

They are more likely to test your limits and may try to show dominance over children or other family members. They begin to understand ranking, in terms of dominance and submission, and where they ‘stand in a pack.’

This is also when your dog will be teething, so give them chew toys to relieve pressure and pain.

This is when hormonal changes start to occur and is the ideal time to spay or neuter your pup.

Puppy at 6 to 18 Months – Adolescence

After six months, your pup is already in the final stage of puppy development but is still young. This is a fun and exciting time for your pooch since they will be learning, full of energy, and exuberant.

During this time, it is important to remember that even if your puppy now looks like a grown-up dog, they are still a puppy, at least in their mental capacity and emotional maturity.

Work to slowly increase training and other activities.Simply keep training them to ensure they interact in a non-aggressive and non-threatening way with other animals.


Provide socialization at the appropriate times and be sure to give your puppy plenty of social interactions with their siblings as well as humans and any other pets in your home.

Your dog should reach maturity at some point between one and two years old with plenty of variation based on breed,

Normal Aging in Older Dogs



Change in nutritional needs and weight changes

As dogs age, their metabolism changes and their need for calories decreases. Because their activity usually decreases as well, their energy needs are decreased by 10-20%. If we feed older dogs the same amount we fed them when they were young, they will gain weight

Skin and hair coat changes

As with people, older dogs may start to show gray hair; this most commonly occurs on the muzzle and around the eyes.

Decreased mobility and arthritis

Arthritis is a common occurrence in older dogs, especially large breed dogs. As in people, arthritis in dogs may only cause a slight stiffness, or it can become debilitating. Dogs may have difficulty going up and down stairs or jumping.

Chondroitin and glucosamine can be beneficial to support healthy joints. Some anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as aspirin and Rimadyl are often recommended for dogs with arthritis. (Do NOT give your cat any type of pain reliever unless prescribed by your veterinarian.)

Dental disease

Dental disease is the most common change we see in older dogs. Studies show that even by age three, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease

Decreased gastrointestinal motility (constipation)

As dogs age, the movement of food through their digestive tracts slows. Inactivity can also contribute to constipation.

Urinary incontinence and loss of house training

Urinary incontinence is involuntary or uncontrollable leaking of urine from the bladder. In older dogs, especially spayed females, small quantities of urine may leak while the dog is resting or sleeping. Treatment for incontinence is usually not difficult. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) and estrogens, such as diethylstilbestrol, are commonly used.

Hearing loss

Some dogs will experience hearing loss as they age. Slight hearing loss is hard to evaluate in dogs. Often hearing loss is severe before the owner becomes aware of the problem. The first sign noticed may look like aggression. In reality, it may be the dog was unaware of a person’s approach, became startled when touched, and instinctively reacted. Owners may also report the dog is no longer obeying commands (the dog no longer hears them).

The hearing loss generally can not be reversed, but some changes in interaction with the dog can help reduce the effects. One of the reasons to teach dogs hand signals for various commands while they are young, is that these hand signals are very useful if the dog develops hearing loss

Changes in the eye and vision loss

Many dogs develop a condition of the eye called nuclear sclerosis. In this condition, the lens of the eye appears cloudy, however, the dog can usually see quite well. Many owners are concerned their dog has cataracts (which do affect vision) when the dog really has nuclear sclerosis. Cataracts are common in older dogs of certain breeds, though, as is glaucoma.