Japan earthquake and tsunami: Global Pet Emergency Preparedness

April 19, 2011

ast month’s 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Honshu, Japan is reportedly the fifth strongest ever recorded. The quake created a tsunami which dealt a destructive blow to the humans and pets inhabiting Japan�s cities, towns, and rural areas.


This morning (Thursday evening in Japan) an aftershock measuring 7.4 �struck off Japan’s eastern coast about 60 miles from Sendai and 90 miles from Fukushima. It was about 215 miles from Tokyo.�

The Japanese meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning, predicting one meter waves, however cancelled the warning 90 minutes later.

Last month, as tsunami waves from the Japanese earthquake affected multiple states along the west coast of the United States, the California Emergency Management Agency released warnings for California coastal cities.

How to prepare for something like that occurring here in West Hollywood, or for that matter, anywhere else in the world?

Primarily, be aware of your pet�s location. In the urgency of a natural disaster or other emergency, sometimes a pet�s location may be unknown.

Cats and small dogs can hide in a closet, under a bed, or elsewhere in attempt to escape the stress and potential harm.

Medium and large breed dogs typically make their presence more obvious, but they may instinctively flee from a dangerous scene unbeknownst to their concerned owner.


Be consistently aware of your pet�s location in your house, yard, or public place. Frequently observe your pet�s habits, including their preferential location to nap, nest, or hide. Knowing your pet�s �free time� habits can facilitate their discovery in the face of an emergency.


WeHo News

Have your pet wear identification Should your pet escape your home environment, a safe return may occur more readily if the lost pet bears up to date identification.

Fit your dog or cat with a cervical (neck) collar embroidered with or displaying a tag displaying the pet�s name and (at least) your phone number or email. Collars can be removed or fall off, therefore microchip implantation increases the likelihood you will be reunited with your pet.

Keep your personal information up to date with the microchip manufacturer. As microchip identification requires a scanner and collars can go missing, the use of both is ideal.

If a sudden crisis forces you to flee your home environment, make sure to transport your pet in an a secure manner. Cats and small dogs should be placed in a protective (rigid or soft), airline approved carrier. Your pet�s name, species, color, breed, and weight, along with your contact information, should be easily visible on the outside of the carrier.

Medium and large breed dogs are not easily transported via carrier, use a cervical collar or chest harness and leash to maintain control of your pet�s movements.

Promote a stress reduced state for your pet


Cardiff pill am pm dispenser. WeHo News

Encourage a calmer state by giving your pet a dose of a stress relieving product, such as Rescue Remedy Pet, 1-2 hours before a potentially distressing event.

I often administer this product to my patients in conjunction with acupuncture treatments to promote better acceptance the sensation initially caused by needle insertion.

To ensure the ongoing health of your pet, keep supplies and food in easily accessible and transportable containers. As many pets need consistent treatment to manage chronic conditions, an emergency could cause a therapeutic interruption.

My dog, Cardiff, has Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), so I use a Monday through Friday AM/PM pill dispenser to keep his medication and supplements organized whether we are at home or traveling.

To reduce the likelihood your pet will suffer from digestive upset associated with food changes, keep containers of food supplying multiple portions ready in case of abrupt departure.

To better alert emergency personnel of your pet�s presence in your home, post a notification in a clearly viewed window. In 2009, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and ADT Security Services partnered to create window clings so pet owners can write information about their pet (dog, cat, other, date). I hope the clings will eventually include more details, such as those mentioned in the above section about safe pet transport.

Seek veterinary care immediately In the face of a variety of emergency situations, a pet could be exposed to smoke, fire, water, or other noxious substances which require immediate care from an emergency veterinary facility.

Tissue trauma from heat, moisture, or chemicals may not be readily apparent from external evaluation. Internal organs can quickly be damaged and cause life threatening malfunction of vital organs (brain, heart, and lungs).

Determination of the degree of organ system trauma may require diagnostics (x-rays, blood tests, etc) to permit the best treatment for your pet�s particular condition.

For the sake of the your health and that of your pet, I hope that you and your pet never forced to take action in dealing with an emergency. As I have learned from my clinical practice, it is always is best to ready oneself and our pets for the unforeseeable by following the above recommendations as part of an emergency preparedness strategy.



Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA founded California Pet Acupuncture & Wellness (CPAW), Inc.



(CPAW), Inc. offers conventional Western and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) on a house call basis.

See him www.californiapaw.com or write him californiapaw@me.com.