by Ali Jarvis, SidewalkDog.com

No one expects disaster to strike, but when it does, having a disaster plan in place can make all the difference for your family’s safety. Having an emergency plan before you need one means that, should a crisis arise (think tornados, fires, or flooding), you won’t have to think about what to do or how to do it — you’ll just put your plan into action. But take a moment to think about your plan: does it include your entire family? Four-leggers included?

If your emergency plan has never included your pet, don’t feel guilty. According to a new survey conducted by Pet360, 46% of pet owners do not have an emergency plan in place for their pets. But 46% is 46% too many. To that end, take a minute to make sure you and your pup are prepared for a crisis with these top tips.

Assemble a doggie emergency kit. Fill a box or bag with these key articles to ensure a safe emergency:

  • Water and food to last your pup at least 3 – 5 days (don’t forget the bowls!)
  • Medication and medication records stored in waterproof containers
  • An extra leash and/or harness
  • A recent photo of your pup (no, keeping one on your phone doesn’t count. What if your phone dies and there’s nowhere to recharge?)
  • Poop bags (not glamorous, but necessary)

Practice, practice, and practice again. One of the best ways to prepare for an emergency with your pup is to practice simple commands. In the excitement of an emergency your pup should know to follow your lead. Practice “come,” “sit,” and “stay” in a variety of situations to help you execute your exit strategy smoothly. Looking for bonus points? When you’re practicing a home evacuation (which, yes, you should do), practice it with your dog too. If you have two-legged kids, make sure they get a turn to try with your dog as well.

Purchase and put up a rescue sticker. Disaster can strike at any time, even when you’re not home, which is why it’s important to have a rescue sticker posted at your front door. A rescue sticker lists the number of animals residing in a home so that emergency workers know how many pets they need to rescue. According to Pet360, 63% of pet owners do not have these rescue stickers, so if you’re one of them, make sure you get one and post it ASAP.

ID your pup. Make sure your pooch is wearing a collar and up-to-date identification at all times. The last thing you’ll want to do in an emergency is run around the house trying to find your dog’s collar or tags.

Know their secret hiding spot. Pets can become terrified in an emergency (seriously, think about how frightened they can get during a simple thunderstorm!) and will often resort back to their “safe spot.” By knowing where their secret hiding spot is, you will be able to find them and evacuate quickly — critical in an emergency when every second counts.