Keeping your pets safe during a hurricane

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It’s hurricane season here in Florida and Hurricane Irma is bearing down on us in Central Florida. We’ve got the house as prepared as it can be, so now it’s time to focus on our furry family members. Here are some things to remember as you prep to keep them as safe as possible.

First things first, decide if you are going to stay and ride out the storm or if you are going to evacuate. Do not leave your pets at home. They cannot fend for themselves and can be badly injured if left loose during a storm.

Evacuation

If you are evacuating, decide WHERE you are going to go and make sure that your pets are welcome.

  • Put collars with a valid contact number on all pets.  Preferably use a number for someone out of the storm area who’ll be able to coordinate retrieving your pet if necessary.
  • Double check that any chip information is accurate with your vet/chip registry.
  • Put all your pet’s vet records and the vet name/address in a ziplock bag and pack it in a ‘go bag’ specifically for your pets. This bag should contain food, water, bowls (water & food), treats, pet specific first aid kit (detailed below), a can opener if needed, favorite toys, all medications needed, all documentation, an extra leash/harness/collar and poo bags. If you have cats, you’ll need kitty litter and a box.
  • Have all pet carriers out, already assembled and ready to be used.
  • Have current *printed* photos of your pet in case they become separated from you.
  • If you are going to be taking your pet to a boarding facility, write down any special care instructions or needs for your pet.

Staying Put

If you are sheltering in place, you need to do all of the above, just in case you have to evacuate or be rescued. In addition, make the following preparations.

  • Stock up on plenty of non-perishable food. If you feed your pet kibble, put it in a plastic container to keep moisture/water out. If you feed your pet canned food, ensure that you have a manual, hand can opener if the power goes out.
  • When you are stocking up on water for your family, do not forget your pets. They will need clean, fresh drinking water as well.
  • Double check that their collar is ON them. I don’t keep a collar on one of my cats and I don’t keep one on my dog in the house. They’ll both have collars on for the duration of the storm.
  • Consider putting your pets in their carriers during the height of the storm. If you have cats, this will make it so they have a safe place to be AND can’t hide from you if you suddenly have to leave.
  • For your dogs, put sod in a plastic baby pool in the garage  or other indoor area. They won’t be able to go out during the height of the storm and if you are in a flooded area, it may not be safe for them to go out immediately after the storm passes. Do not let your dogs out into the yard, off leash, because they may spook and run away, including climbing your fence.
  • Make sure you have the info for any local shelters and what their pet policies are, in case you need to evacuate.
  • Assemble a pet specific first aid kit. This should contain an emergency heat blanket, bandage rolls, gauze pads, bandage tape & scissors, antibiotic ointment, gloves, a pet specific thermometer, eye dropper, tweezers, styptic powder, antiseptic wipes and saline solution.
  • A first aid book would also be useful. The one I have is titled “The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats”

Our pets are family members and any storm preparations need to take their needs into consideration as well.   If you have any other items to consider, feel free to add them in the comments and stay safe!!

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