Disaster Preparedness for Pets: 7 tips
September is my favorite month where I live. The tourists have gone, we have cool mornings and evenings, but still experience warm days. The beach is beautiful (and empty!) in September, yet the water still warm enough to swim. September is also the heart of hurricane season on the east coast, and as we stock away water, canned food, and other essentials for impending storms, we do not want to forget about our 4-legged family members. Here are 7 tips to help prepare you and your pet for a natural disaster.
1. Make sure your animal(s) is up to date on vaccines.
In the aftermath of a hurricane many areas struggle with a lot of standing water which poses disease threats to us and to our pets. Some of these diseases can be prevented by vaccinating your pet ahead of time. Also, if you are having to evacuate, you want your animal up to date on vaccines due to risk of exposure to other animals and new surroundings.
2. Obtain a copy of your pet’s medical history.
Having a copy of your animal’s medical record will be beneficial if you need to evacuate. Place the documents in a waterproof container along with your important family documents.
I know having a microchip placed in your animal is controversial, but with the threat of natural disasters it is something to consider. Many pets are abandoned during hurricanes, but a lot are just simply lost! Having a microchip ties them right to you – name, address, and phone number. Rescue organizations and animal shelters will scan found pets and work on finding their families. If microchipping your pet isn’t an option, make sure they are wearing a collar with tags that indicate their home address and your mobile phone number.
4. Water, water, water!
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends people have 1 gallon of water per person per day. I recommend the same for animals. Even though you may have a small dog or cat that might not drink a lot, it can be used to clean them, their food bowls, and/or the environment.
It is a good idea to make sure you have at least 1 week's worth of food for each animal. Many organizations recommend canned food for your pets during a severe storm, as dry food can go rancid. However, you do not want to switch around food at this time if it isn’t necessary. Pack dry food in sturdy, waterproof containers to prevent it from going bad.
6. First Aid Kit
Pack a first aid kit for your pets. Dry towels and blankets, food and water bowls, litter for cats (and small dogs that are litter box trained), photos of all pets to help identify them if you become separated from them, roll gauze, bandage tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, several pairs of latex (or latex-free) gloves, garbage bag or a few empty plastic shopping bags, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, and saline. If you have a small dog or cat, making sure you have their carrier is important as that will ease transport if needed.
7. Chronic Medications
If your pet has a chronic (long-term) disease, such as heart disease or kidney disease, please make sure you have at least 1 month of medication available. Every pet should be on monthly heartworm prevention and flea/tick control, so make sure you have a couple of doses of these as well. Even though a storm may only last a day or so, the aftermath can affect the veterinary clinic’s access to certain delivery services therefore delaying the shipment of much needed medication.
With Hurricane Florence projected to hit the east coast by the end of the week, please make sure you and your family are prepared – whether you stay or leave! Call you veterinarian today to ensure you will have your medications refilled before the storm comes. Stay safe!
– Leigh Hofmeister, DVM