Hurricane Preparation Guide for Pet Parents
The weather that makes the Florida Keys feel like paradise on earth can also leave it vulnerable to severe tropical storms, especially hurricanes. Whether you are living here in the Florida Keys permanently or temporarily, it is essential that you and your pet are prepared in the event of a natural disaster and have the means to either shelter or evacuate safely.
Your pet should always have up-to-date identification on them. This includes ID tags on their collar, and a microchip that is registered under your name and contact information (microchips are useless if they are not registered). Additionally, take pictures of your pet and save them on your phone just in case.
Is your pet current on all of their vaccines? Are they taking their flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives like they should? Contact us to make sure your pet is up-to-date with everything they need to stay healthy.
Keep a list of names and numbers for area shelters that can temporarily house your pet in case you need to evacuate and are unable to take your pet with you. If possible, get in touch with friends and family members that can watch your pet for you.
An evacuation pack can save you lots of trouble if you and your pet need to evacuate the area on short notice. Be sure to include:
- At least 2 weeks’ worth of food and water. Make sure dry food is securely sealed in waterproof containers.
- If you have a cat (or two), have fresh kitty litter and litter trays on hand. If you have a dog, have plenty of sturdy plastic poop bags.
- Copies of your pet’s vaccine and medical records, which should be safely stowed in a large Ziploc bag. Or, you can take pictures of them for your phone so you can bring them up at a moment’s notice.
- A couple of sturdy leashes and a spacious, comfortable pet carrier (if you have a cat or small dog).
- At least 30 days’ worth of medication for your pet, including their flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives.
- Comfortable bedding that is familiar to your pet, or clean towels/blankets if the bedding is too bulky.
- A muzzle in case your pet is nervous and aggressive around other animals.
- Your veterinarian’s contact information, and the numbers of area emergency responders.
Minimize Your Pet’s Stress
Storm preparation and the process of evacuation can be stressful for your pet as well as for you. Here are some things you can do to distract your pet and relieve some of their stress:
- Bring along extra treats as a distraction.
- Include a favorite toy (or toys) to give your pet comfort.
- Meet with your veterinarian in advance if you’re concerned about your pet’s anxiety and need help alleviating fearful behaviors such as hiding, shaking, pacing, chewing, digging, barking/howling, and abnormal clinging.
- Create a safe space for your pet. This can include their carrier, which you can treat with artificial dog or cat pheromones, or a closet which you can furnish with bedding to make the space cozier and more comfortable. Cats and dogs feel safer in small, secure spaces.
- Need to find pet-friendly lodging? Go here or here to find hotels/motels that allow pets.
How to Handle an Evacuation
Always be prepared and ready to act if dangerous weather is on its way. Allow yourself time to secure your dog or cat in their carrier or on their leash (or harness). A scared cat can be very hard to find—and capture! Click here for tips on safely securing and transporting your cat.
Also, use the FDOT 511 Travelers Information System to receive continuous, up-to-date information regarding evacuation.
Just because the storm has passed, doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe to go outside. Keep your pet indoors as much as possible to protect them from these potential dangers:
- Fallen power lines
- Glass and other sharp pieces of debris
- Storm surges
- Unseen hazards in flood waters