Aerial view of flooded neighborhood in South Carolina

Flooding and Animals: Keeping your Pets and Livestock Safe 

Be prepared! This guide outlines steps to keep your pets and livestock safe during a flood


Understanding floodwater dangers

The threat of floodwater

What is a flood?

According to FEMA, a general definition of a flood doesn’t include an exact depth of water but states ‘a temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area.’ This can be an overflow of inland or tidal waters, or an unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.

Floods pose immediate dangers like powerful currents that can sweep away people, animals, and vehicles. Contaminated water from sewage and pollutants creates long-term health risks for both humans and animals.

German shephard walking through flood waters

Did You Know? 

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The number of flood events in the US has doubled in the last 50 years.

Preparation is key

Plan ahead to protect your animals

The key to animal safety during floods is preparation. Develop a plan outlining where your pets and livestock will go during a flood. This may involve evacuation, moving them to higher ground, or sheltering in place.

Key steps for flood preparation

  • Develop a flood plan for your animals
  • Identify potential evacuation routes and shelters
  • Create a safe haven for sheltering in place
  • Gather supplies for your animal disaster kit 

Pet preparedness

Keeping your pets safe during a flood

Evacuation: If possible, take your pets with you. Ensure they have proper carriers and identification tags.

Sheltering in Place: Move outdoor pets indoors. Place a notice on your home with pet details and your contact information. Move pet toys and beds to higher ground to keep them dry.

Pet Disaster Kit: Consider including items like food, water, bowls, bedding, medications, first-aid supplies, and sanitation items.

 Tips for creating a disaster kit

FOUR PAWS staff memeber in red vest carrying small brown dog in flood waters

Livestock preparedness

Protecting your livestock during a flood

Animal Evacuation: Plan for safe evacuation considering human safety as well. Identify an evacuation site with necessary resources and secure transportation. Maintain a complete inventory and identification for all animals. Prepare an evacuation kit with essentials like food, water, medications and handling equipment.

Sheltering in Place: Develop a plan to allow animals access to higher ground if evacuation is impossible. Post contact information on farm buildings. Tag animals with identification details.

FOUR PAWS staff member completing vet check on a cow that has been rescued from a flood

Post-flood recovery and resources

Recovering after the floodwaters recede

Following a flood, recovery efforts include assessing property damage before allowing animals to return. Safely dispose of carcasses and prevent animals from accessing remaining floodwater and debris. Monitor animals for signs of illness and seek veterinary care if needed.

Additional Resources

FOUR PAWS staff members in small boat in flood waters, with staff member in front holding dog


Check out our Severe Weather Guide

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