Disasters and Pets: Prevention and Effects
It is always best to plan ahead. Though it may be tempting, taking the mindset that “it will never happen to me” is not a good way to keep you or your pets safe. With hurricanes, tornados, floods, and any number of other potential disasters it is important to create a plan long beforehand to keep your pets safe.
Especially if living in an area prone to specific disasters, knowing where you will evacuate to is the first step. One young woman I spoke to was forced to leave her golden retriever and her litter of puppies in the house during Hurricane Katrina and they came back to find the entire house flooded and only the mother dog remaining. Her family planned to stay with an uncle, and he did not want pets in the house. This is a horrifying picture for any pet owner, and yet fairly easy to prevent. If you call family members, hotels, wherever you would evacuate to long before an emergency, you can create a list of places that pets can be taken to.
Never leave your pets if you can avoid it, even if it seems like you may be back in a few hours. Keep your pets’ collars and IDs on at all times. It would also be a good tactic to create a pet survival kit. Below are some important items to remember.
Pet Emergency Kit
- Food & Water (Enough for about a week)
- Leash & bags for walks
- Litterbox and litter for cats
- Medicine your pet needs
- Kennels & Carriers
- Small, spare cages with no loose items for small animals
Pets are often just as traumatized by disasters as the people who live through them. Taking familiar things such as toys and blankets can help keep them calm. There are some products made to help reduce pet stress, one trainer I spoke to uses the ThunderShirt for dogs during storms to help keep them calm. It utilizes canine pressure points (See our future article on Canine Reflexology) to help dogs relax. This could be a part of your pet emergency kit. Stress, along with changes in food or environment can cause gastrointestinal troubles for pets. If you find this is the case with your pet, supplement with a pet probiotc such as Fortiflora which is designed to improve and maintain your pet's intestinal health.
Knowing where to take your pets, keeping their identification on them at all times, and having a few basic care items prepared can help keep your pets safe during most disaster scenarios.