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Floods and animals: What every animal owner needs to know

Flooding is becoming more and more common. Even in places not previously prone to flooding people need to be aware of potential dangers. Knowing how to prepare for a flood can help save the lives of people and their animals. Floods are often long-lasting disasters. It may take time for floodwaters to recede and contaminated waters left behind are a potential health hazard to you and your animals. Once the water is gone, there will be debris that needs to be cleared before your animals can be safely let into areas that were flooded.

© FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin

Flood safety: Water can be dangerous on many levels

People often get into trouble during a flood because they don’t realize how powerful water can be. Moving water, even as shallow as 6 inches deep, can knock you off your feet. At 24 inches, it can be strong enough to wash a car away.

  • Avoid stepping into floodwaters where possible.
    • If you must, test the depth of the water with a stick before entering.


Floodwaters are often contaminated and pose a serious health risk. Microbes from wastewater create disease risks long after the floods are starting to recede.

  • Keep yourself and your animals away from the water.


There is often hidden debris under the water. Everything that has been washed out by the flood may be there, including fallen trees and power lines, fencing, metal objects with sharp edges, or broken glass.

  • Don’t let your animals move through flooded areas if possible.

© FOUR PAWS | Bogdan Baraghin

Preparing your animals for floods

Have a management plan for all your animals so that you know where they are going to go, whether they will be moved to higher ground or the higher stories of your house, or to a pre-determined evacuation site. 

If you have pets

Many of the things you need to consider for your pets in the event of a flood are included in the FOUR PAWS brochure What to do during a disaster: A guide for you and your pets.


In this brochure you will find information on developing a Pet Disaster Kit for most types of emergency including:

  • How to make a disaster plan
  • What should be in your Pet Disaster Kit and
  • What outside resources you should be aware of


In the case of flooding, there are some specific things you can do based on whether you will be evacuating or staying at home (sheltering in place).

  • If you are evacuating, take your pets with you if possible.
  • Outdoor pets should be brought inside if you are staying at home or unable if you are unable to take them with you.


Place a notice on your home that includes the types of pets in the house, their location in the building, their names and contact information for you and your veterinarian.