National Pet Preparedness Month 2013

By Lynn Stacy-Smith

June is National Pet Preparedness Month and we spoke with expert Çhelley Wilkes, a PetTech instructor, about preparing to keep your pets safe during emergency situations. Çhelley is also a Canine Caviar customer and advocate and recently shared her expertise at the National Pet Month red carpet event in Monrovia, California.

chelley doing snout to tail assessment - National Pet Preparedness Month


Çhelley became a PetTech instructor through their instructor certification program after nursing her boxer puppies Daisy and Duke through the Parvo virus. During her boxers’ illness she had to provide a tremendous amount of care and pet first aid as their immune system was weakened for a significant amount of time. It was through her experience tending to Daisy and Duke that she realized her love of helping others learn how to assess their pet’s health and to be prepared in a variety of situations.

Çhelley earned her certification in April 2013 from PetTech, which is a premier certification course that partners with Pet Sitters of America and the Department of Homeland Security.  Çhelley is passionate about the opportunity to educate pet parents and pet professionals. She teaches a first responder training class for pet emergencies as well as a pet CPR/first aid course, both of which are four hour courses. She also teaches a comprehensive eight hour pet saver course as well as two hour workshops on knowing your pet’s health, pet emergency and disaster preparedness and walking/hiking with pets.

Çhelley recommends having a disaster preparedness plan and kit for humans and for pets, as well as a pet specific first aid kit. She explained that most people prepare for their own family but forget to include their pets in the plan.

Disaster Preparedness Plan

When creating a plan to prepare for disaster, consider the natural disasters that are likely to occur in your part of the country, and think through whether or not you will stay in your home or exit your home, as well as the amount of time you have to execute the plan. Preparations for tornados, blizzards, hurricanes and earthquakes all vary significantly.

Map out your home and plan an escape route, whether it is to a particular spot in the home or outside of the building. Create two exit strategies in case one exit is blocked, and practice the plan regularly with your pet and with all humans in the house. Çhelley pointed out that not everyone may be home at the time of the emergency, so make sure children and teenagers who are old enough to be home alone are fully aware of the plan and how to handle the pets in the house to lead them to safety. 

Keep slip leashes for each pet in your house near each exit as well as near your pets’ sleeping areas in case you need to exit quickly. A slip leash is preferred over a regular leash as collars can easily slip off of your pet’s head, particularly if they are frightened and try to pull away from the leash.  If your pets sleep in your bedroom, keep a leash near your bedroom door in case of an emergency in the middle of the night so that you can keep them with you as you exit.

Pet Preparedness Kit

Whether you create a separate pet preparedness kit or add pet specific items to your household emergency kit, be sure to include five days’ worth of pet food, water, blankets, extra leashes, and an extra collar. We suggest purchasing a 12 pound bag of Canine Caviar that you can keep sealed in your kit as well as canned food that will be watertight in the event of water damage.

Include a photograph of you with your pet in the kit. If your pet is lost and taken to a shelter you can use the photo of you with your pet to identify him/her. Also keep copies of vaccinations, extra medication if your pet takes a regular medication (including heartworm prevention) and your veterinarian’s contact information. Even if you have your veterinarian’s contact information stored in your mobile phone, include a printed copy in case your mobile phone is damaged. Remember to include a copy of your pet’s microchip information. Store all of these items in a watertight bag so that they are not damaged if your home floods.

Also plan ahead for the possibility that your pet may be injured or unable to walk. For larger dogs, Çhelley suggests using a large rectangular shaped reusable shopping bag similar to those sold at Ikea or Sam’s Club to make a sling if you need to carry the dog. You will need to slit the bag on the side in order to slide your dog into the bag, and watch to make sure their breathing is not impaired by the fabric of the bag. 

Pet First Aid Kit

Your pet first aid kit should include the standard bandages, tape and other supplies as a human first aid kit. In addition, it should include an extra collar and leash, a muzzling kit, hydrogen peroxide pre-measured for your pet’s weight (to induce vomiting if necessary), Benadryl regular allergy medication in gel cap form, a safety pin to pierce the gel cap, vinegar for stings, cortisone cream, feminine sanitary napkins (to act as bandages), plus your dog’s licensing and vaccination records. Also include the contact information for an animal poison control center. Include a towel if you have a cat so that you can secure the cat without being scratched. Çhelley explained that a ten pound cat has the strength of a 70 pound dog when it is injured, so a towel will help protect the owner from scratches and bites.

Everyday Precautions

There are also standard precautions to take as you go through normal everyday life with pets. Plan ahead for the following situations:

  • ·         Car Ride: Keep a pet first aid kit in your car, along with an extra leash and collar, blanket and the makeshift carrier/sling suggested above.
  • ·         Walking/Hiking: Take your pet first aid kit or a mini kit that can go in a hiking pack, as well as an extra water bottle that is easily accessible. In the event of a dog attack you can pour or spray water on the aggressive dog and possibly divert its attention. Carry a small bull horn to warn off violent dogs or wild animals like coyotes. Also research your destination to locate the nearest veterinary clinic or emergency pet clinic should you have an emergency during your hike.

Snout to Tail Assessment


Learn to perform the Snout to Tail assessment and know the normal behaviors for your own pet. The Snout to Tail assessment is important because animals are experts at hiding pain. Keep emergency pet clinic and poison control contact information easy to access in your home or posted to your refrigerator. Always take your pet for veterinary care if they have a seizure, are bleeding heavily, are attacked by another animal, are hit by a vehicle, ingest a poison, or are stung by a bee. Print instructions to the nearest emergency clinic in the event of after-hours problems and keep the instructions in your vehicle. Also save the address and directions in your smart phone map application.

PetTech has an application for iOS or Android smart phones that contains information on caring for your pet, the Snout to Tail Assessment, poisonous items and other dog and cat related topics. The app does not replace the valuable information of the training class but it is a helpful supplement.

Çhelley teaches classes in Southern California in the beach cities area and can be reached at Pet owners in other parts of the country can find class information at