Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins on June 1 and ends on November 30. Although we are near the end of the season as I write this … preparing for a hurricane with your dog is vital.
As they say: prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
I live in the Tampa area of Florida. And last August, the category 5 Hurricane Irma came barreling straight toward my city. The whole city was in a state of panic.
The families who lived along the coast headed inland or traveled north. And as mandatory evacuations and shelters were set up, the pets could feel the anxious energy in the air.
Even more troubling — there were not nearly enough shelters that accepted pets.
Thankfully for my city, the hurricane took a sudden turn and my city was not directly hit.
However, it was clear that we needed an evacuation plan and ways to keep pets calm. So let’s review how you can be ready the next time a storm is headed your way.
Steps For Preparing For A Hurricane With Your Dog
Step One: Make a Pet Plan
Leaving your pets out of your evacuation plan can put you, first responders, and your pets at risk. So before a hurricane hits, sit down with a pen and paper and make a plan.
Although hurricanes often come with fair warning, disaster can strike at any time. Without a plan in place, you may not remember everything you need to do when acting in a panic.
My family has two plans: the evacuation plan, and the plan to ride the storm out at home.
#1- If a storm is a category four or higher and we are in the direct path, we will evacuate. This takes the “should we? Shouldn’t we?” level of anxiety away.
#2- If the storm is lower than a category three, I know my home will be structurally sound and we will be safe to stay.
If you are not sure, a full list of pet-friendly shelters can be found here.
Remember: pet-friendly shelters and hotels will fill up fast! So you’ll want to plan two or three backup locations. And if there’s no way that you can take your pet with you, you’ll need a safe boarding kennel.
Boarding your pet at a safe facility, like Beautify the Beast or Fire Flake Farm, may be your best option. Although it may seem like a last resort, never leave your pets home alone during an evacuation.
You’ll also want to know the veterinarians and emergency veterinarians, in the area that you are travelling to.
Storms and evacuation can cause pets to suffer extreme anxiety. This may cause them to act out, so knowing where to take them in an emergency can be a huge help.
Step Two: Make a List of Supplies
No matter what you choose, it is important that you and your family know your plan. You want to be able to remember the small details including:
- Food. If you feed RAW you may need to get a Freeze-Dried version of your food in case, you lose power or don’t have access to a freezer.
- Water bowls
- Extra blankets
- Enough food and water to last two weeks per pet
- Cat litter
- Piddle Pads or a kiddie pool with sod or pine shavings in your garage, balcony or back porch (in case your pet cannot go outside for several hours)
- Prescriptions for two weeks
- Full Spectrum Hemp Extract and other supplements your pet normally takes and may need to keep CALM.
- A photo of your pet and clear description of your pet
- Veterinary paperwork and vaccination records
- Collars with up-to-date tags
- Rescue alert stickers
- Special toys and beds for your pet
Step Three: Jump into Action
Before a hurricane ever hits, make sure that your pets have up-to-date collars and tags. If you become separated from your pet, this may be the only way to find them.
If your pet is microchipped, make sure to update your contact information. And check that any pet carriers, leashes, or harnesses are easy to find and still in usable condition.
You’ll also want to update any and all rescue alert stickers you have posted at home.
As a Floridian, I know to keep a reserve of the supplies I made on my list during step one at all times. Stores will sell out of many supplies that you might not think of. Including things like dog and cat food, bottles of water, etc.
So during the summer I know to keep extras of those items. If a storm is coming and you haven’t had time to stock up, make sure to start as soon as you can.
Fill prescriptions for your pet and make sure that you have any supplements they may need. It is also recommended that you keep a current photo of your pet and description.
And if you also have any of your pet’s medical records, they’ll help in the event that you and your pet become separated.
If you plan to shelter at home, choose a safe room away from windows or outer doors. And remove anything potentially hazardous to pets. This includes plants that might be toxic or anything your pet might find on the floor.
Close off small spaces that small pets can hide in. This will keep them from becoming trapped. This will save you from trying to find them if they become panicked during the storm.
[ RELATED: Helping Your Dog’s Fear Of Thunderstorms]
Step Four: Remain CALM
Preparing for a hurricane with your dog can be enough to rattle even the most stoic human nerves. So it is important for you and your pet to remain calm. Remain patient with your pets during and after the storm.
The shakeup in their routine can cause stress. Couple that with the loud sounds of a storm or the stress of evacuating, and you can get behavioral issues.
Using a Full Spectrum Hemp Extract (CBD) can be helpful in soothing anxiety. And if you still have electricity, playing soothing music can also help relieve some of the stress … for both yourself and your pet.
It’s also important that you try to keep their routine stable as much as possible.
After the hurricane has passed, make sure to remain calm when you take your dog outside. Make sure you don’t unleash them until you have completely surveyed the damage.
Although the damage may be stressful, staying safe is the most important. Keeping yourself and your dog calm will help you both recover from the storm.
[ RELATED: 6 Natural Solutions For Dog Anxiety]