Hurricane preparedness is nothing new for Florida residents. However, pet owners have additional responsibilities during hurricane season (i.e., June through November.) Use the following tips from Palm City Animal Medical Center to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort before, during, and after a weather emergency.
Before the storm—prepare with your pet in mind
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to address your pet’s safety. Create a plan before a threat exists, and make updates as your pet’s needs change. Check off the following items to protect your pet:
- Microchip your pet and place identification tags on collars — If your pet is not already microchipped, schedule an appointment for the simple procedure. A microchip is the only permanent identification form that can reunite you with your beloved pet. A microchip increases your lost pet’s chance of reunification. However, ensure your contact information is up to date, because a microchip is only useful when registered, with accurate contact information. Ask your veterinarian for registration information, or visit PetMicrochipLookup.org to access the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool provided by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
- Review your pet’s identification tags — During a disaster, shelters and veterinary establishments see a huge influx in clients, which means scanning lost pets for their microchip can take a while. Keeping identification tags on your pet’s collar can expedite their safe return home.
- Plan for pet-friendly lodging — Unfortunately, not all evacuation shelters accept pets, so having a plan for your pet in case of evacuation is crucial. Create a list of friends and family willing to care for your pet during an emergency, as well as pet-friendly lodging.
- Make a pet first aid kit — Many tools in your own first aid kit can be used to care for your pet’s injuries, but your pet’s first aid kit should also include the following essentials:
- Cotton bandage rolls and gauze pads
- Bandage tape
- Scissors and tweezers
- Antibiotic ointment
- Disposable gloves
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Saline solution
- Ice pack
- Styptic powder
- Plastic eye dropper or syringe
- Small flashlight
- Liquid dish soap and antiseptic
- Emergency veterinary clinic contact information and your evacuation route
- Pet’s current medical records
- Gather pet essentials — Remember your pet when stocking up for a hurricane. Keep the following items on hand to prepare them for the storm:
- A week’s supply of food, water, and medications
- Crate and carrier for small animals
- Favorite toys and treats
- Potty patch and waste bags, or litter box and litter for cats
- Cleaning supplies
- First aid kit
- Calming aids, such as calming vests, catnip, and anti-anxiety medication
- Medical records including:
- Current vaccinations, especially those required for boarding. Consult with your veterinarian about additional precautions, such as the leptospirosis vaccine to protect against bacteria that thrive in wet environments.
- Heartworm and parasite preventives
- List of current medications
During the storm—stay calm and engage your pet
Once you are prepared, you can focus on keeping your pet calm and safe during a hurricane or other disaster. If sheltering in place, secure your pet inside their crate in the room where you are riding out the storm. Keep them distracted from the sights and sounds outside with the following:
- Toys and puzzles — Mental stimulation will sustain your pet’s focus.
- Jobs—– Keep everyone entertained by practicing your pet’s best tricks and commands. Completing a task—and receiving treats and praise—will boost your pet’s confidence during a frightening time.
- Calming tools — Use calming vests, pheromones, or prescribed medication as needed. Remember, your pet looks to you for guidance, so stay positive and calm during the storm by using your own self-soothing strategies.
After the storm—keep your pet close and out of danger
If you have ever experienced a hurricane, you know the danger doesn’t immediately end when the storm passes. Relatively minor storms can cause serious damage, and you should inspect your home and outside property before letting your pets run free. Keep your cat in their carrier and your dog on their leash until you check that all fences, gates, and pool guards are undamaged and secure. Watch for insects, reptiles, and frightened animals who could harm your pet if threatened, and don’t let your pets drink from standing water, which may contain parasites.
You and your pet love calling Florida home, and you understand that living in paradise brings added risks and responsibilities. Take some of the stress out of hurricane season by preparing in advance. Also, make an appointment at Palm City Animal Medical Center, to get your pet microchipped, if necessary, and to ensure they are up to date on their vaccinations and parasite prevention.