How to prepare pets and livestock for an emergency
Floods, bushfires and extreme weather events pose great risk to animals, so it's essential you plan in advance for their safety.
Planning for the safety of your pets and animals
Planning what you will do with your pets and animals in an emergency will mean they will have a better chance of surviving. This can form part of your household emergency plan.
Decide what you will do with your pets and livestock when a severe weather event or other disaster is expected and if you need to evacuate. As part of your plan make sure:
- your animal’s name and your name and contact details are clearly visible on their identification tags. Include your address if there is space
- your animal is registered, and its microchip details are up to date.
Keep a current photograph of your animal and record its:
- any distinguishing features
This information can be included as part of your emergency kit.
Save your animal's microchip details, medical and veterinary information, key contact details and photographs to the cloud or on a storage device.
What to pack if you're taking your pets with you
Make sure you have all the things your pet might need for 3 to 7 days, in case you have to evacuate. This might include:
- food and treats
- water bowls/buckets/tubs
- any medicines, and clear instructions on treating any medical conditions
- bedding, blankets, nesting materials
- identification tags, collars, leads, harnesses
- photos of pets with the family or owner
- cat litter and trays, poo bags
- registration and vaccination papers
- animal first aid kit
- newspapers, paper towels, plastic bags, gloves and household bleach to clean up after your pet
- contact details for your veterinarian, local animal shelter, local council and other accommodation if you have arranged this.
Containing and transporting your pets
Consider where you will move your animals to if you need to evacuate.
You'll need to plan how you will transport your pets and contain them at your destination. You may need to use a:
- crate, carrier, cage, or similar, labeled with your contact details
- litter tray
- lead, harness or muzzle
- trailer or float
- friend's car.
Train your animals to be settled in a cage, carrier, crate or horse float.
If you become separated from your pets, contact animal shelters and your local council. Have a recent photo of your pet to help with identification.
If you can't evacuate with your pets
If you are forced to leave your pets behind, there are a few things you can do:
- Provide food, water and shelter in multiple places.
- If your animals are outside, make sure that they can escape if they need to.
- If your animals are inside, leave them in a secure room, ideally a room with no windows and adequate airflow like a bathroom or laundry.
- Leave a note on your front door or mailbox so emergency services or neighbours know what animals are there and where they are.
Planning for large animals or livestock
Contact your neighbours and work together to make a plan for your livestock.
Identify the safest area for livestock on your property or your neighbour's property. This should be a paddock with a water supply, clear access and secure fencing. Keep it well mown or grazed and create firebreaks so it doesn't add fuel to a fire. Ensure livestock is familiar with getting to this area and being held there.
Make sure your animals have labels or tags that make them identifiable. Include your contact details if possible.
For further advice on how to keep your animals and livestock safe, visit:
- NSW State Emergency Services (SES) Get Ready Animals website
- Horse safety in emergencies fact sheet by the Department of Primary Industries
- Livestock safety in emergencies fact sheet by the Department of Primary Industries.
Agriculture and Animal Services Hotline
In an emergency, the Agriculture and Animal Services Hotline 1800 814 647 can assist you with:
- emergency fodder
- emergency stock water (where there is an immediate animal welfare concern)
- animal assessment and veterinary assistance
- stock euthanasia and burial
- livestock feeding and management advice
- the care of animals including pets and companion animals in evacuation centres.
How to protect pets in hot weather
It's important to make sure your pets are safe during hot weather and heatwaves. All animals can suffer from heat stroke, which can be fatal in serious cases.
Take the following steps to keep your animals safe in hot weather.
- Leave your pet at home in a cool and well-ventilated area with clean water and shade. Fill at least 2 bowls with water in case one is knocked over. Where possible, leave the air-conditioning or fans on in the house.
- Avoid exercising your pet in the hottest part of the day.
- Avoid walking your pet on hot surfaces. Check the heat of the ground you are walking on with the back of your hand.
- Never leave pets unattended in a car — even when the car is in the shade and the windows are open.
- Use sunscreen to protect hairless and light-coated animals from sunburn.
- Clip pets with long or thick coats.
These recommendations are especially important for owners of:
- young, old or overweight pets
- pets with thick or long coats
- pets with short noses, such as brachycephalic, or flat-faced, dogs and cats
- pets bred for cooler climates.
Know the signs of heat stroke in animals
Heat stroke, extreme heat stress and dehydration can kill animals. Symptoms include:
- rapid panting (birds may pant through open beaks)
- muscle tremors or collapsing
- signs of mental confusion.
Contact the nearest vet immediately if your pet develops these signs or if you are concerned for its welfare. Do not transport animals in a hot car.
Helping native animals in an emergency
Learn about signs of heat stress in native animals by checking the list of symptoms on the WIRES website.
If you find an injured or ill native animal contact:
- WIRES (24 hours, 7 days a week) or 1300 094 737
- a local wildlife rescue organisation like Sydney Wildlife Rescue.
In hot weather and heatwaves, you can help native wildlife by leaving water in shallow dishes in shady, safe areas. Don't leave food.
Prepare ahead by planting trees, grass and other vegetation to help reduce heat and provide shade and shelter for animals.
Visit the WIRES website for more information about how to assist wild animals before, during and after a bushfire.
Make sure you do not enter a disaster area or put yourself in danger to rescue animals or wildlife. Trained wildlife carers from WIRES or a local wildlife rescue organisation, licensed to work with first responder agencies, will assist wildlife in an emergency.