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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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by Karen A. Kandra
FDA Veterinarian Newsletter November/December 1999 Volume XIV, No VI

The following information is intended for pet owners and livestock producers. Veterinarians may wish to duplicate this article and provide copies to their interested clients. As always, material which appears in the FDA Veterinarian is free of copyright and may be reproduced without permission.

Computer errors resulting from Y2K system failures have the potential to impact all animals, as well as human beings. Farmers and livestock producers who use automated feeding, watering, and milking equipment are subject to possible system failures. Pet owners should also be prepared for any unexpected shortages.

Government, industry, hospitals, and pharmacies, both human and animal, have made efforts to test and resolve any potential Y2K issues. Industry is taking action to ensure that their equipment, machinery, and systems used in product manufacture, control, storage, and distribution are Y2K compliant, and that products will be readily available to customers.

In order to avert problems before they become possible public health issues, FDA and CVM are continuing to work with regulated industries to disseminate and exchange information related to Y2K issues.


It is best to use common sense and be prepared for unforeseen shortages or outages. Since all animals are dependent on their owners for their health and well-being, it is important to plan ahead and take precautionary steps to avoid possible disasters. Follow these simple suggestions:

  • Temporarily increase stocks of food and any vitamins or dietary supplements ahead of time. (Keep at least a week's supply available in case of problems.) Be sure to have bottled water available for pets as well as humans in case of power outages.
  • Refill any medications beforehand, and do not put off refilling prescriptions until the last minute. Don't forget preventatives such as heartworm or flea control products.
  • Keep a paper copy of your pet or livestock medical records, including vaccinations, allergies, or existing medical conditions, past treatments and surgeries, and any current medications, just in case the computer system crashes, and records are lost.
  • In the case of livestock producers, the safety of the food supply is your responsibility. Keep adequate and accurate records.
  • WARNING: If you run out of prescribed medications, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE or borrow medications without first checking with your veterinarian.