Keeping Your Pets Safe In Case Of A Hurricane

Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 – November 30, and while many Floridians have a plan in place for the season, not everyone considers the effects a strong storm or an evacuation can have on pets. In addition to preparing supplies for your family and familiarizing yourself with evacuation routes, it’s also important to have a plan ready to go for dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and other pets.

Hurricane Pet Tips from Island Animal Hospital:

  1.  Keep a Supply of Medications/Supplements. If your pet is on a particular medication or supplement, make sure to have enough in reserve in case of evacuation or hospital closure. This also goes for food, especially prescription diets. An abrupt change in diet can cause upset stomach and cause diarrhea.
  1.  Request Sedatives Ahead of Time. If your pet doesn’t travel well and needs a sedative prior to evacuating, request a prescription ahead of time. If pets have a history of seizures, this needs to be addressed before any sedatives are prescribed.

“A few years back when we had a series of back to back hurricanes come through, we actually ran out of acepromazine (most commonly used sedative),” said Island Animal Hospital.  “Due to the extreme weather, no more could be shipped in ahead of the storms, and many people were left without.”

  1.  Get Your Pets Microchipped. Having pets microchipped is important, and very helpful if they escape. Another important part of this is assuring that the microchip has been registered and has up-to-date information associated with it.

“During storms, there is a much higher likelihood that pets can become lost; they break out of carriers, go through fences–all kinds of things can go wrong when they are frightened of the thunder and lightening.”

  1.  Make Sure Pets are Up-to-Date on Vaccines.  It’s a good idea to have a printed copy of vaccine records (and any other important medical records), to show potential boarding facilities, or hotels that your family may be evacuated to.
  1. Have Up-to-Date Tags. We recommend having the owner’s information on one side, and Island Animal Hospital’s phone number on the other side. We will take in pets that have been lost and have our number on their tags until the owner can be found or reaches out to us.
  1. Have Adequate Pet Carriers for Small Animals. It’s very important to have safe, secure carriers for cats, small dogs, snakes, rabbits, and other exotic pets.

“The same year that we ran out of acepromazine, the pet supply store down the road ran out of pet carriers (true story!),” remarked Island Animal Hospital staff. “People were evacuating with cats in cardboard boxes or big tupperware storage containers with holes cut out for air–Not safe!”

  1. Make a List of Evacuation Items. It’s a good idea for pet parents to have a list of items ahead of time that they will bring with them if they evacuate (or even better, a box ready to go). The list could include:
  • food
  • treats
  • collar and leash
  • medications/supplements
  • a special toy or blanket
  • pet first-aid kit
  • travel litter box with litter and scoop (cats)
  • waste pick-up bags (dogs)
  • a current printed photo of each pet, in case they get lost and a flyer needs to be made
  1. Find a Pet-Friendly Hotel or Boarding Facility. Look ahead of time for areas you may evacuate to, and check with hotels to see who is pet-friendly and who is not.  If you are traveling to an area that doesn’t have a pet-friendly hotel, look for boarding facilities in the area. These places fill up quickly inland when storms are coming, so having the phone number ready for reservations can help assure that you get a spot for your pets.

Protect your pets and your peace of mind by acting on these items ahead of time. The last thing you want is to be scrambling to get your family and your pet’s affairs in order during the chaos of an evacuation.

For more information about keeping your pet safe during hurricane season, just ask an Island Animal Hospital staff member during your next visit!

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