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Preparing Pets for Extreme Weather & Emergencies
As many of you are aware, the East coast was preparing for a large tropical storm impact this weekend. We live in the central part of Pennsylvania and rarely encounter any weather emergencies that are out of the ordinary. We see occasional flooding, high winds, the random tornado warning, but nothing too exceptional. We are accustomed to snow and rain, colder temperatures as well. The inspiration for this post came from my experience preparing for the impact of tropical storm Joaquin (which PA did not receive in the long run). I believe as pet owners we have a responsibility to always make sure that our pets are safe and happy to the best of our abilities. I do not take owning a pet lightly and I encourage you to take the responsibility seriously as well. These are creatures who depend on us for everything; if we are not providing them with the necessities of safety, health, and happiness we are doing them a disservice.
Most animals are sensitive to the temperature. Not all animals require high levels of warmth because their coats provide insulation and natural warmth but others require a controlled temperature. During natural disasters and weather emergencies the temperatures can be hard to predict and hard to control. If you lose power you will need to have a backup plan for providing you and your pets with warmth, especially during the winter months. We have a small, interior room, where I keep extra blankets for just such occasions. If we were to lose power I have a place where all of our indoor habitats will fit and can easily be covered to trap warmth for my pets. The interior rooms in our home stay much warmer even during the cooler months which was another reason I chose it for an emergency space.
Noise / Elements
An interior room is great for keeping pets away from the loud noises that can be associated with many extreme weather occurrences. There are no windows in interior rooms so you shouldn’t have to worry about window breaking and snow or rain entering the room. The extra layer of protection and sound proofing adds to the appeal as a safe space for pets (and humans if necessary)! Many pets, my German Shepard Ruger included, hate the loud noises of thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornados. Pets that fear loud noises can become upset and anxious which can cause them to panic and hurt themselves or others. Animals who are in a state of panic can easily injure themselves or others unintentionally and keeping them calm is priority #1.
Food / Water
Clean water and food are a necessity in planning for extreme weather. If you have a boil water advisory, no power, no water, etc. you need to be prepared to provide not only for yourself but also for your pets. If it’s not safe for you to eat or drink it’s not safe for them either. This can be as easy as saving gallon jugs, cleaning them out, and refilling with water from a filter pitcher. We do this just to make sure we have some back up. It’s also a good idea to have a filter pitcher on hand. They’re relatively inexpensive now and can save a lot on bottled water costs; in an emergency situation they’re fantastic for making water that is safer to drink for you and your pets! As for food, make sure when you are buying necessities for the humans to grab some extra pet food too! In the case of extreme emergencies you’ll need a backup supply and may not have a way to get to the store to buy more.
Leashes / Travel Carriers
For larger pets make sure you have leashes and collars on hand and ready to go; smaller pets will need travel carriers. You do not want to be stuck evacuating at the last minute and not know where your travel carriers and leashes are located. Keep them in a handy place so in the case of an evacuation you can easily and quickly get everyone ready and out the door! It is also important to remember that when emergencies happen you will need to take your pets with you. They cannot be left behind as you may not be able to return for long periods of time, if they cannot stay with you make sure you have arrangements in place for them as well. We all know where we would go if something happened but where would our pets go? Could they come with us? If not, where can they stay that they will be cared for and safe?
Exercise / Potty Breaks
Especially in the case of dogs, have a plan for where they will use the bathroom. If you have flooding, fires, torrential rain, or blizzard conditions it may not be possible to take them outdoors in their usual places. Do you have a different place available to take them for these needs? If the answer is no, you may need to consider where you can take them to stay until it will be possible for them to safely return. With smaller or litter trained animals (as well as the larger ones) have a plan for exercise. Weather conditions do not change the fact that these animals will still need stimulation and exercise. Designate time and space for them to run around inside if necessary or be prepared to closely monitor them if it possible to be outdoors safely, even for short periods of time. Weather conditions can change quickly and during storms they should never be left outside unattended.
Preparing animals for extreme weather can be just as complex as a preparing for adults and children. They have needs and requirements that can be challenging during emergencies. The best thing to do is plan ahead. Maybe you don’t have time to write out a complete plan at all! Your pet’s survival may one day depend on you being prepared for an emergency. Prepare today so that tomorrow you are ready for anything!