Hurricane Safety Tips for Pet Owners

The hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict above-average thunderstorm activity in 2021. Of course, we’re thinking about how to prepare for a weather emergency for our families, stocking up on non-perishable food, water, and making sure we have batteries and flashlights on hand. But what about the safety of four-legged household members and other family pets? Consider that in 2005, historic Hurricane Katrina displaced more than 100,000 pets according to the Louisiana SPCA. PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and animal care expert, Dr. Jennifer Freeman, DVM, told POPSUGAR: “It’s common to overlook pets when preparing for an emergency, but take a few simple steps to include the needs of your pets in your family preparedness plan will help make sure they are comfortable and safe in an emergency. ”Meanwhile, Susan Anderson, Director of Disaster Response and the national field response for the ASPCA, told POPSUGAR: “As the ASPCA and other animal welfare organizations prepare for what is expected to be another busy hurricane season, we are We cannot stress enough the importance of incorporating animals into disaster preparedness plans to keep families together and pets safe. ”

Dr. Sharon L. Campbell, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Medical Manager at Zoetis Petcare, agrees. “The first thing to consider as a pet owner is to have a plan in place to prepare the animal for a crisis or emergency,” she said. First and foremost, you’ll want to assign someone to look after your pets if you can’t in an emergency. Also, making sure your furry and feathered friends are up to date with their vaccines is essential. After that, you can better position your pets in an emergency by taking these specific steps.

Chip your pet

Beyond just making sure your pets always wear collars and ID tags with your contact details, the microchip can be a lifesaver in a weather emergency. Dr Freeman says, “It is a permanent way to identify your pets and is used universally by animal shelters and veterinarians. Not only should dogs and cats be chipped, but think of horses as well, with Anderson suggesting that if that’s not an option, identify your horse in some other way, such as a tattoo. “In an emergency, you can place an ID clip or braid a luggage tag into his mane or tail or paint your phone number on the side with non-toxic paint,” she added. .

Create a pet disaster pack

It is one of the most important ways to prepare your pet for hurricane season. In your basket, include at least a week of food and make sure your pet has access to clean water. Dr Campbell suggests tablets or a filtration system to sanitize the water, emphasizing, “You don’t want your pets to drink flood water because there are all kinds of bacteria and parasites in there.” . “. She also notes: “A disaster will not prevent your pet from going to the bathroom.” So, for cats, prepare a litter box, shovel, and garbage bags. Dogs will need garbage bags and towels. Of course, if your pet is on medication, including flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, take a month’s supply. Dr. Freeman suggests a cooler bag or cooler for refrigerated medications. Also, don’t forget to include a current photo and description of each of your pets, which can help you track them down in the unfortunate event that you go your separate ways. Keep copies of medical records, including vaccinations, on hand, with Dr. Campbell explaining, “Since your veterinary clinic can also be affected by an evacuation, bring your medical records with you. . “You can also create temporary identification tags to write the address of where you are staying during your evacuation. Other supplies like a pet first aid kit, favorite toys, and pet supplies. Cleaning such as pet shampoo are recommended. Anderson also states that hamsters, gerbils, mice, and guinea pigs will need litter, food, water, and food bowls. Additional things to consider for the small animals are a lick stone and a small skin box or tubes.

Designate a safe place for pets in the home

The best place for your pet during a hurricane is with you. A windowless interior room is safe for people and their pets. “Try to introduce them to this place before a storm or other disaster and make sure there is a comfortable bed, a favorite toy and a litter box for the cats to feel safe and at home,” Dr Campbell said.

ASPCA also recommends using a window sticker (the organization provides them free of charge) to let people know there are animals inside your home. “Make sure the sticker is visible to emergency responders – we recommend placing it on or near your front door – and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home as well as the your vet’s name and number, ”Anderson said. If you are evacuated, be sure to write “EVACUATED” on the sticker so rescuers and affected citizens know animals are not in the house.

Have an evacuation plan

The ASPCA always urges pet owners to bring their pets with them during an evacuation. Leaving them in place, especially tied to a post or tree, will prevent them from escaping high flood waters. Research and list animal shelters, boarding houses, and vets that will be available in an emergency, as well as pet-friendly hotels along your evacuation route. “When you evacuate with your pets, keep them in their cage or aquarium if possible,” Anderson said, adding that covering the cage or aquarium will help keep the animals warm during a power outage. “In the event of an evacuation, the birds should be transported in a travel cage or secure carrier,” she said. Dr Freeman suggested, “For fish or turtles, it’s a good idea to have plastic buckets or tubs with a lid handy in case you need to dispose of them. It is a safer alternative to transporting these animals in glass bowls or aquariums. ”

Dr Freeman also points out potential dangers to animals to be aware of during and after a hurricane, including “paw-level” debris, and spilled toxic chemicals and fertilizers, as well as downed power lines.

Ultimately, preparing in advance will save everyone from undue stress, with Anderson noting that in a stressful situation like a hurricane, pets can get nervous and run away, which you definitely don’t want to. let it happen.

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