Living near the coastline, one is quickly made aware of the importance of hurricane preparedness. Residents of the coastal states can usually recite, by heart, the important contents of a hurricane kit, routes to safety, and directions on how to prepare one’s home for tropical-force winds.
Unfortunately, during all the preparations and excitement, many forget about the family dog until it’s too late.
So how do you make preparations for your pet and what should you include in an animal care kit?
While this site is focused on dogs – this article applies to all pets.
The most important thing to remember, when hurricane season draws near, is to start preparations early. You will want to begin by asking your veterinarian if they will be boarding dogs, or if they can suggest a place that will be accepting animals, should an evacuation be called. This is essential, due to the fact that most emergency shelters will not allow animals. Additionally, for the sake of your pet and others, make sure that your dogs’ vaccination records are up to date, prior to the start of hurricane season.
Family pets should never be left at home or in a car when an evacuation is called! Not only can a storm be traumatizing to an abandoned pet, but there a great many risks involved, as well. Power outages can cause temperatures to rise to unbearable levels, there is a risk of flooding, flying debris, or wind damage, and remember that it may be an extended period of time before you may be allowed to return to your home. No matter how sheltered you believe your home may be, no matter how much food or water that you think you can leave out for your pet, it is a dangerous and unnecessary risk to take.
Just like people, pet dogs need hurricane kits as well. The following items should be included in a special kit for each individual pet:
– A carrier to transport your pet in: Bear in mind that this carrier should be large enough for your pet to turn around and lay down comfortably. In the event of an evacuation, cage space may be limited, and your pet may have to stay in the carrier.
– A blanket or bed to lay upon: Ideally, this should fit inside your pet’s carrier and will help to not only make him more comfortable, but will also help keep him from slipping and falling if he is moved.
– Personal belonging: Be sure to leave your pet with a favorite toy or a personal belonging of yours that carries your scent, to help ease his fears. Evacuations can be very traumatic to pets and it helps them to have something familiar amongst all the strange noises and odors.
– Medical records and medicines: This is essential, as some shelters will not allow your pet in, if you do not have an up-to-date shot record. Additionally, it is highly recommended that, should your pet have any serious conditions or require special medication, that you not only make sure to provide the medicine that he needs, but also post a visible tag on his carrier, drawing attention to this fact.
– Food: Ensure that your pet has a two-week supply of dry food, on hand, for workers to feed him and be sure that it is stored in an air-tight container. Wet food is not recommended, unless you can provide it in single serving containers. Remember that, should there be a power outage, there will be no refrigeration available. Highly recommended is that you post his usual feeding schedule on the top of the carrier; maintaining a routine, that is similar to his normal home life, will help keep your pet as stress-free as possible.
– Water: This is commonly overlooked, but it’s important to provide your pet with a two week supply of water and, ideally, this should be the very same water that he is used to drinking at home. We don’t always realize this, but water differs from area to area, and suddenly changing your pet’s water can lead to bowel disruption and unneeded stress. Several milk jugs, well rinsed and filled with tap water, can be plainly marked with your pet’s name using a permanent marker.
– Collars/Leashes: Remember that your dogs and cats may need to be moved or taken out for some exercise. For this reason, you will need to provide a collar or harness, and a leash. It’s also a good idea to be sure that your pet’s collar bears a tag that provides owner information and that this is up to date. Having your pet micro-chipped is also an inexpensive and painless method of emergency identification for your pet. To learn more about micro-chipping your pet, contact your veterinarian or local shelter for more information.
– Contact Information: Be sure to post your name, address and phone number on the top of your pet’s carrier. If possible, also provide information on where you are evacuating to. This will allow your pet’s caregiver a method of contacting you, should an emergency arise.
Natural disasters – We can’t stop them from occurring, but we can prepare so that, when they do happen, everyone can evacuate to a safer place. Ensuring that your pet has his own hurricane preparedness kit will help save time, should an emergency evacuation be called and will only help to keep your four-legged family member safe. Follow these steps and, before long, everyone will be reunited with tails wagging!