Summer is a lovely time of year full of outdoor activities and happy, sunny days. But severe storms can ruin summer fun and be frightening to people and pets alike. In the New York City area, we frequently have severe thunderstorms and occasionally hurricanes, which send many pets under the bed or into the closet. Here, tornadoes rarely happen, but in some parts of the United States, families head for their storm shelter when the risk of tornadoes is high. Pet families should plan ahead for these summer events, and the plans should include the family pets. Here are five must-dos to prepare your pet for severe summer weather:
- Protect your pet with ID
Many dogs suffer from noise phobias, and if frightened can run away during a storm. Make sure your pet has a collar with an ID tag that includes your phone number and address. Double his protection by having your veterinarian place a microchip under the skin. Placement of a microchip does not require surgery, and is a permanent form of identification. Animal control officers and animal shelters have chip readers, but following a weather-related disaster, an easily read name tag may return a lost pet to you more quickly.
- Collect pet necessities
Your pet emergency kit should contain, at minimum, a carrier for smaller pets and a spare collar and leash for larger pets to facilitate moving to a safe haven. Pack a container that can be used for food or water and a three day supply of food, as well as emergency medical supplies.
- Include pet medications in the first aid kit
If your pet receives any chronic medications, be sure your emergency first aid kit contains at least a three day supply of these drugs. Some of the contents of a normal first aid kit can do double duty for pets, for example: triple antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution and saline flush. Bandage material can be used on pets too, but you might want to add extra bandage material to your kit as pets have twice as many feet to get cuts and sores as humans do!
- Practice with your pet
Schools, businesses and even the Animal Medical Center practice for an emergency evacuation. Not only should your family have an escape plan, but you should practice loading your cat into the carrier and walking down your apartment stairwell or into your storm shelter with your dog to acclimate him to an unfamiliar situation. The best plan would be to leave your pet carriers out and open so your pet will readily go inside. If you have a large dog, walk down your apartment stairs regularly to be prepared for an emergency.
- Know your municipal evacuation policies for pets
After Hurricane Katrina forced pet families to choose between evacuation and their pets, New York City changed the hurricane evacuation policy and all evacuation centers now allow pets. While many municipalities followed suit, a safe evacuation depends on knowing in advance where you and your pets can find shelter.
Preparation can help to make severe summer weather safer for both you and your pets. Get ready now!