Once again, hurricane season is right around the corner. I wrote about this last year but wanted to update my prior blog to add a few things to your kit as well as some observations I’ve made over the last 2 years. With a forecast of a slightly above average season expected, the time to prepare is now.
Preparing for a big storm, whether you choose to ride it out or evacuate, can seem a little daunting. It doesn’t have to be! A little planning can go a long way, and if broken up into pieces, doesn’t have to break your bank either.
Most people know that they need to take food and water for their pets, but please don’t forget the other items they need daily. Bowls for food and water, extra leashes, a litter box and litter, and bags to pick up after your pet are considered essentials. Please don’t even consider traveling with your pets without a carrier for each individual. Consider chew treats and toys to help them be more comfortable. Many of these come in space saving travel sizes for extra convenience. Please look ahead to see if the hotel you might be planning to book allows pets. I can’t count how many times last year I saw people advising others that they didn’t need to worry, because when there are evacuation notices, hotels are REQUIRED to accept your pets. No, no and NO. They are still privately-owned businesses, and as such, can make whatever pet policy they choose. If you plan to evacuate but intend to board your pets locally, please consider it carefully and make sure that is an option! When Irma targeted us last year, YAH closed to allow our staff to evacuate or prepare their homes. We simply could not board. If we had boarded, it would not have been good conditions for the animals, since we lost power for a few days. If you choose to leave your pets at a facility, please make sure they have back-up generators in the event of a power loss.
Also, very important to have with you is the pet’s identification and vaccine records. If you choose to evacuate, all pet-friendly shelters and many pet-friendly hotels will require these. It is recommended to have your pet’s medical records, identification numbers including license and microchip numbers, bird band numbers, and a current picture of your pet in a zip-top style freezer bag to protect it from water. Make sure your pets are wearing identification. Dogs and cats should be wearing collars with their licenses and your contact information.
Medications. This is a big concern every year that many people put off until the last minute. Please don’t. If your pet is on a chronic medication, have an extra 2 weeks-worth available throughout the season. Few meds have such a short expiration date that you can’t use them once the season has passed. It is also imperative that you plan in advance if your pet is not accustomed to travel or becomes anxious during storms. Many dogs and most cats do not enjoy traveling and become anxious +/- car sick. Your pet-friendly hotel will become much less friendly if your terrified dog barks all night long! There are medications and supplements that can help take the edge off anxiety or calm the tummies of our furry friends. Species-specific pheromones can also help many of them. Those of you who have seen your pets calmer on their visit to us with the pheromone-sprayed bandannas or towels have seen first-hand the difference it can make. Many birds also do not travel well and can be helped with a bit of an anti-anxiety medication. But again, please don’t wait until the
last minute to let us know your pet needs the medication. Last year, we briefly ran out of one of our meds for dogs, because we had so many calls just a couple of days before the storm. Please make sure your pet has what he/she needs. Also consider packing a small first aid kit. Include bandaging material, triple-antibiotic ointment, antihistamines (Benadryl®, Zyrtec®), etc. Bumps and bruises can happen anytime, so it’s always good to be prepared for an eventuality when you might not be able to get to a veterinarian.
It might seem like a lot of work, but being prepared can take away a lot of the stress of dealing with these monster storms. The good thing is, we know when they are coming and have time to prepare, so please, be thorough.
For a list of pet friendly hotels/chains and travelling with your pet http://petswelcome.com
To see the other recommendations from my last blog (I didn’t cover it all here) https://youngsanimalhospital.com/ready-hurricane-pets/
Angela Bockelman, DVM, PhD