First Things First -- Food & Water

We know that our pets rely on us for everything - from food and water to affection and attention, medical and otherwise. So, our emergency preparedness means covering their needs too.

For those among us who tend to improvise, this bears repeating... in a disaster, our pets count on us - and the usual tools of improvisation may not be available. So, here is your heads up to stock up.

The CA state government preparedness guidelines suggest at least three days of food and water per person. The keywords being "at least," we recommend if you're just starting to build a kit, include at least three (3) days worth, which covers a basic seismic event in the mid-to-high M6s or low M7s, a bigger M7 event needs seven (7) days, and the "max" M8 event needs 2-3 weeks of non-perishable food and water, for you and your pet.

"That's nuts," you say? Not if you like being fully prepared for a nasty hit, when bridges and other arteries will be out of commission. Water mains rupture, but with broken roads it could be a while before they get fixed. Considering our region's proximity to the San Andreas fault line AND the Hayward fault line, which some scientists say is due, preparation is important. This is not Virginia, folks - and even they get lucky sometimes.

Since pets are members of the family, it's easy to count each just as you would a person. Water guidelines suggest one gallon per person per day. For ease, start with that same idea per pet and use good judgment. If your household has two or three cats - that one gallon per day should be sufficient. Remember: stress will impact them, and they may want to drink more than usual. And, you may want to share with a favorite neighbor or their pet.

Food is easier. Identify a non-perishable food option for each pet. Emergency preparedness kits can be stored out of the kitchen, so usually canned food is preferable to dry, because canned food attracts fewer mice or pests, and because canned food contains water. Dry food without sufficient water could make things worse. Keep a hand-crank can opener handy or use pop tops. Bland food choices are usually better when pets are under stress. The technical term for bland food is an "Enteric diet" which we stock in three brands: Hill's Prescription Diet® i/d®, Purina Veterinary Diets® EN and Iams® Veterinary Formula™ Intestinal Low-Residue™. But if you ask for an Enteric Diet, you'll get bland, and after stress bland is grand.

Rotate pet food annually, perhaps when one cleans out the pantry for the holiday food drive. Again, 3-days worth is expected to cover a basic event in the mid-to-high M6s or low M7s, 7-days worth for the middle M7s, and 2-3 weeks worth (what you might need for a M8) is the biggest prep you ever need to worry about.

You don't have to do it all at once. Start out with basics first. In this case, start with 3-days (basic), and, when you can, go to 7-days (bigger), etc. The point is to get started! Add the food and water task to this weekend's grocery list and you'll have it done! Tune in next week, when we'll tell you little more about water storage.