Hurricane Season: Are Your Pets Prepared?

August 27, 2012 | By Kristen Seymour | Category: Care & Safety | 2 comments
Tags: care & safety, recalls & alerts

Keep your pets calm and protected during storms.

Our pets are an important part of the family, which means that just as you consider them in your plans for travel, you should also keep them in mind when considering safety strategies.

The onset of hurricane season is a good reminder to develop a disaster plan. Ideally, you have a pet-friendly evacuation plan already in place, but what if you're not evacuating? What if you're facing a hurricane that forces you indoors but isn't strong enough to make you pack up and leave? Or a tornado appears out of nowhere and all you can do is get yourself and your loved ones to a safe part of the house? There are several ways to keep your pets safe and a little less frightened during this stressful situation.

We spoke to Steve Dale, pet expert and certified cat and dog behaviorist, who tells us the first step is to contain your pets. Crate cats and small dogs -- by clicker training them to go into a crate or carrier ahead of time, you'll make this much easier in an emergency -- and get larger dogs on a leash. Make sure to give your pet access to water, especially if you've lost power and it's heating up. Putting a few ice cubes in the water dish is a great way to keep the water and, therefore, your pet, cool.

When conditions get really bad outside, get everyone -- including your pets -- to the safest part of the house. "[K]eep the pets as close by as possible. You're only human, and your heart may be beating a zillion times a minute, but remember, the calmer you are, the better you are able to rationally think, and the better you will able to keep your pets calm," Dale says. "Our animals do pick up on our emotions. If you have a pet who is prone to anxiety, you can try an herbal calmer," he adds, cautioning that this should only be done if A) you have time and B) you've previously used that product; don't experiment during an actual emergency!

Another issue pet owners face when trapped indoors for long periods of time is the potty -- if you've got a housebroken dog but you can't go outside, what do you do? Or, rather, what do you have them do? Dale recommends that owners create an indoor potty station. "Use newspaper, or if you have several paper bags you can lay them out, or any other substrate you can walk a dog on. Remember, your dog will be crossing her or his legs, not knowing it's OK to go indoors on this new substrate," he says.

It's up to you to convince a dog who's only relieved himself on grass or dirt that it's alright to use this new potty station. Pace back and forth over two or three feet of newspaper and encourage him -- even if he doesn't have a specific "Go potty" command, the encouragement can help.

Generally, cats can go many hours without using the litter box, and when it's a matter of safety, having an accident in the carrier is better than letting Kitty loose in a dangerous situation. If you can do it safely, Dale suggests taking the cat out of the carrier and placing him directly in a litter box in a room with a closed door. Kitty's instinct might be to run off and hide, Dale warns, so stand guard right next to the litter box and, when he's done, put him back in his carrier.

Have you ever gone through a major storm with a pet? How did you pass the time and keep your four-legged friends safe?

Comments (2)

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Roger J.

Roger J.
2 years ago

That is very good advice I don't have to worry floods I live in California where it seems to be the earthquake capital for the U.S. we have a disaster kit all ready for our pets even or Cockatiel Peaches. It is a shame that not everyone considers their pet as part of the family

Good Point | Reply ›


3 years ago

there was a bad earthqauke once but I was in school and Skitters Teddy and Shorty where at home I guess we had Biff then too I think but I worried about them all day until I got home speaking of major storms it was really warm out today and a bunch of people had their power go out but there was no storm to cause it.

Good Point | Reply ›

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