Living in Florida, dealing with hurricanes is part of life. However, It can be very scary for our fur-babies. As we all get ready to prep our homes for hurricane season we also need to include our pet's in the planning. How do you prepare your pet's for a hurricane you may ask? Here are some tips:
If You Evacuate Your Home: Please make sure you bring your pet's with you. Pet's left behind can become injured or lost. Many often escape when there is any storm damage and after a fright like that, will often hide. We are in an area where we are blessed with emergency shelters that accept pets. Shelters open in waves and are based on location and then more open as the need arises. Remember, not all shelters accept pets, so make sure to watch your emergency management communications to see which shelter is accepting pet's and is open. If you do not plan on going to an emergency shelter you could also find a pet friendly hotel or friend or family in an area outside of the danger zone. Just make sure you have all your pet's supplies, identification and containment, which we will get into shortly.
If You Stay Home: Identify a safe area in your home for your pet's. It is recommended to leave all pet's in a carrier or crate and have a leash, collar or harness on, with identification. Make sure to have your pet emergency kit with your pet and talk to your veterinarian if you think your pet's may need storm anxiety products to help them stay calm.
Let's Talk Identification: Microchips are the best form of pet identification. A microchip is a permanent device that is rice-sized and encoded with a unique number. That number is then registered with your information. It is vital that you always check your microchip information to make sure it is up to date. Over time people move, phone numbers may change, emergency contacts may change and updating that information with the microchip database can sometimes be overlooked. I also recommend your pet have an identification tag on their collar or harness as well. This way if your pet is found by a neighbor or someone close they can get home much faster then taking the pet in to be scanned. Lastly I highly recommend you have a current picture of your pet and one of you together as well. If your pet becomes lost having an up to date picture to send out will aid in finding the pet. A picture with you and your pet is an extra form of proof that your pet belongs to you as well.
Disaster Supply Kits: Each pet should have a disaster supply kit. I recommend keeping it in a water-tight container that can be easily transported and stored in a place that is easily accessible. make sure you rotate the food and medications every couple months to make sure they stay fresh. Here is a list of all the items I recommend you have inside your kits.
Crate or carrier large enough for your pet to turn around in and cat carriers large enough for a small litter box.
Collar and leash for all pets (including cats) with ID and rabies tags on all collars.
Vaccination records and a current picture of each pet.
3 week supply of each pet's medications.
Sedatives or Anxiety Supplements for pets that frighten easily.
Disposable litter boxes and extra cat litter. Cardboard shirt boxes make great disposable litter boxes and can be tossed in a ziploc daily so it stays clean and contained to keep odors down.
3 week supply of your pet's food and water.
Plastic bags and pet safe cleaning supplies and paper towels.
Manual can opener.
Bowls for each pets food and water.
Blankets and toys that your pet likes to have around so they have something comfortable and soothing.
Towels and blankets.
Detailed instructions for each pet's care. This way if the pet is cared for by someone other then yourself they will know exactly what the pet needs.
Include a copy of your families emergency plans and emergency contact information in case you can not be reached.
Include a copy of your veterinarians information.
Flashlight and batteries.
Basic pet first aid kit. Includes items like bandaging material, antiseptic ointment, alcohol, betadine, gloves, tweezers, gauze and a muzzle for your pet because even the friendliest pet can bite if they are in pain.
Taking the time to prepare now can make for a less stressful situation, should one occur. So sit down with your family, make sure you are all on the same page, know your plan and make sure to include your fur-babies so you can all have a safe storm season!