Hurricane season is awaited with much anxiety. If you don’t live close to the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico, then you don’t have to worry about the destruction hurricanes leave in their wake. If you do live in the zone, you’re probably already prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones. Hurricanes are always scary, no matter what category they are. It’s important to take care of ourselves, our homes and our possessions. But we mustn’t forget about the other members of our family: Our pets!
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re preparing for a hurricane and have a pet. Don’t wait until the last second to be ready. Some of these crucial steps take time and are vital for the well-being of your furry companions.
1. Check which shelters accept pets in case of evacuation
If the hurricane is strong enough, you may have to evacuate depending on where your house is located. If that is the case, and you don’t have a friend or family member to stay with, it’s possible you may have to consider staying in a shelter. Shelters are great because they’re a safe space with all resources you might need, but they generally don’t accept pets, forcing owners to make difficult decisions.
To avoid having to abandon your pet, call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or the office for animal control to check which shelters accept pets or where you can take your pets if they don’t.
2. Prepare an emergency kit for pets
Just like you and your family will need water, food and light, pets also need the basic essentials. Prepare an “emergency kit for pets” with enough water for them, food for a few days, plastic bags, a carrier/cage in case you need to evacuate, their leash and some of their favorite toys or blankets to keep them calm. Remember, animals also feel anxious, so if you’re going crazy, they will too.
3. Separate cats and dogs
If you have different types of animals, it’s best to keep them separated. The stressful environment of a storm can make them nervous, and even if they normally get along, they can begin to act irrationally. The last thing you need is your pets fighting among themselves, so try to keep them in different rooms.
4. Micro-chip your pet if you haven’t already
In the unfortunate event that you and your pet are separated, make sure they have a micro-chip implanted so that you can track them if necessary. All vets perform the procedure, so call yours. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Make sure to give them a bath before the storm hits
If the storm is strong enough, you may not be able to get your pet out for a few days. Make sure to take them for a long walk or run before it hits, so they can release some energy and do what they need to. Buy pillows, newspaper and a litter box for your cat, so they have a place to do what they need to while locked inside. You can also buy bags to keep everything as hygienic as possible.
6. Always keep them inside
It sounds like common sense, but please don’t leave your pet outside during the storm. Tying them up is cruel and makes it impossible for them to swim if the situation gets worse. Even if you have a covered patio, it’s best to keep your pets inside but free to wander.
7. Feed your pets with wet or tinned food
It’s best for them to eat wet food so that they require as little drinking water as possible while still remaining hydrated.
8. Try not to leave them alone at home
If you have absolutely no other option but to leave your pet at home, don’t leave them chained up outside. Let them roam inside the house with plenty of food and water. Experts suggest removing the toilet seat and leaving the bathroom door open so they can drink if they need to. Place a sign on the inside of the window explaining that there is a loose animal inside, leaving a phone number to get in contact, such as your vet.
Please, try to do everything possible to keep your pets healthy and safe. They’re family members and shouldn’t be left behind. Plan their safety, just as you plan for your own.