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Are you Ready when Disaster Strikes?

By Pia Silvani, CPDT-KA, CCBC

Most pet parents never think that it will happen to them but it can at any moment. If your pet has never been trained to a crate, carrier or riding in the car, you are putting additional stress on your pet when it is time to move and move fast!

The best way to deal with pet emergencies is to prepare for them. First and foremost make sure your pets are use to a crate or carrier, not only at home but in a variety of contexts as well as riding in a car.


It doesn’t take a cat long to figure out that being put in a carrier means something unpleasant is coming (i.e. car ride, trip to vet, etc.) Make a positive association by leaving the carrier out and open. You can put a towel with your scent inside. You can also leave treats, toys, catnip or soaked cotton balls with Feliway inside and rotate them whenever possible. Most cats are curious and will investigate. Once he is going in and out, put some kibble or canned food inside. Do not close the carrier until your cat is comfortable. Randomly leave your cat in the carrier for short periods of time and take your cat for a ride to no where.


Crate training is not just for puppies. Dogs may need to be crated when traveling in a car, kennel boarding, hotel travel, vet visits, grooming and more. A dog that likes his crate is easy to travel with and you can be comfortable knowing that he is not stressed.

As with the cat carrier, make it a fun place for your dog to go. Feed all of your dog’s meals in the crate and offer wonderful chew toys during non-eating times. Have a random schedule for crate time. This could be 5 minutes or an hour. Exercising your dog before putting him into the crate is also helpful. Make it a comfy place to relax.

Get your dog acclimated to riding in a car while in his crate. Not only is this a safety factor but he will be relaxed when you need to transport him. If he is a bit nervous, you can put an anxiety wrap or Thundershirt on him with a few drops of Chill Pill (aromatherapy mixture of lavender and Roman Chamomile).

Other Pets

Birds – Transport birds in a secure travel cage or carrier. Since birds typically don’t travel, you may want to get your bird acclimated to a blanket over her cage and take the bird on short trips around the neighborhood. Birds can get very cold or overheated, depending upon the area in which you reside. Blankets over the cage can keep the bird warm and a water bottle to spray the bird’s feathers can keep her cool.

Small Animals – Many people have hamsters, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs, ferrets, and rabbits as pets. As with all animals, they should be transported in a safe carrier with proper bedding, food, and water. Small animals tend to like salt licks, hide boxes or tubes and a safe place to keep warm.

Reptiles – Lizards can be transported like birds. Snakes may need to be transported in a pillowcase but cannot remain in the case as permanent housing. A heating pad or other warming device will help, as well as a tray for your pet to soak in.

Being prepared is the key. Don’t leave your pet behind!

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