Preparing for Hurricane Season By Jaime
Hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th. Now is the time to prepare your pets for hurricane season and the possibility of an evacuation of the Lowcountry. Hurricane shelters do not always accept pets (Red Cross Shelters do not) and if they do, they have very strict rules. Advance planning is very important in the event of an evacuation. An alternative to a public shelter might be necessary. Contact family and friends well outside the path of the hurricane that would be willing to accommodate you and your furry family.
If friends or family are not an option contact Charleston, Berkeley or Dorchester County emergency management or one of our local shelters for more information. Another option is to visit www.petswelcome.com or www.pets-allowed-hotels.com to find pet friendly accommodations. Some hotels or motels that are not pet friendly might waive their no pets policy in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. These hotels will fill up quickly during an evacuation so have a list, with location and phone number of a few, just in case.
If you have to evacuate your home there are several items that you will need to take with you for each pet.
- Vaccine records for each pet
- A collar and leash with ID tags
- A crate for each cat and litter and litter pans
- A two week supply of food, water and medication for each pet
- Feeding and medicating instructions for each pet
- Something familiar from home (toys, blankets, etc.)
- The number of your veterinarian and emergency clinic
- Pictures of each pet
- A first aid kit (in addition to your own) with bandages, tweezers, tape and antibiotic ointment.
- Microchip numbers for each pet
If your pets are not microchipped now is the perfect time to do it! Pets can get separated from their family during natural disasters very quickly and a microchip can help shelters and veterinary clinics get them back home to you.
If you plan to weather the storm at home with your pets be prepared to be self sufficient for at least a week. You should have all of the previously listed items on hand for easy access in a safe place. Keep in mind that your pets may never have experienced anything like a hurricane before. If they are afraid of thunderstorms, a hurricane will be no different. The barometric pressure, wind and thunder are much stronger during a hurricane and even the most confident well-adjusted pet could have difficulty coping. Talk to one of our veterinarians about ways to keep your pets calm and comfortable during a hurricane and take a few minutes each day or week, prior to storms, to practice your plan. You and your pets will be more confident in the event of a hurricane and imagine the difference it will make during one of our summer thunderstorms.
There are a few things you can do to help your pets adjust to the change in weather. Keep your pets with you in a safe, interior room with their collars on and leashes nearby Cats should be in their carriers. Do your best to stay calm. Your pets know you very well and know when you are anxious. They will feed off of your anxiety. A Thundershirt, a body wrap that swaddles your pet, is a wonderful option; these can be purchased online at http://www.thundershirt.com or in any pet store. Thundershirts comfort pets the same way swaddling a baby comforts a baby.
Playing music or the television loudly can help drown out the noise outside however this will not be an option if the power goes out. Prescription medications can also be an option. A new medication, Sileo, has just become available and is specifically for dogs with fear of loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms. This medication is absorbed quickly through the gum tissue and begins to work in 30 minutes. Sileo can be given at the beginning or even during the noisy and fearful event, each dose lasts two to three hours and can be given as needed up to five times.
Feel free to call us to discuss preparing your pets for hurricane season, our team is always happy to help.No matter what your hurricane preparedness plan is be sure to include your pets. After all, they are an important part of your family.