It’s no secret that our climate is worsening, and the US now experiences an average of around 17 hurricanes each year. These events are stressful and terrifying for us humans, but they’re equally distressing for our pups.
Preparing in advance is the best way to minimize fear and uncertainty ahead of hurricanes, especially for dog owners who have to worry about their canines. That’s why we’ve put together this handy cheat sheet of hurricane tips for dogs.
How to Prepare Dogs for Hurricane Season
When you need to get away from your home in a hurry, the most critical thing to remember is not to leave your dog behind. Humans are well-versed in the risks of a hurricane, and if it has come to evacuating, then your poor pup doesn't stand a chance without you.
However, when it comes time to leave, you don’t want to be scrambling around, trying to work out what your pet may need over the coming days. There are several key strategies for preparing your dog for a hurricane. Most of these revolve around investing a little time that you don’t want to spend when bad weather is looming.
1. Stay Up to Date on Your Dog’s Training
One of the most important things you can do in preparation for a hurricane is to make sure your dog's training is up to scratch. This includes getting them acclimatized to a crate or travel carrier so that it isn't a shock if you need to leave in a hurry.
In terms of training, you may also benefit from having taught your pup some key commands, such as "Heel." You need to be able to rely on them to follow instructions, in the event that they aren't in their crate or carrier.
2. Check All Your Information is Correct
In the chaos caused by hurricanes and potential evacuations, the chance of a dog going missing naturally increases. Thus, it’s essential to check that all of your personal and contact information is correct so that you can recover your pup should they make a run for it. This includes:
- Making sure that your dog's collar and tag have your name and contact number. If you have a Fi collar, make sure it is fully charged.
- Ensuring that your dog has a microchip, and that your information hasn't changed since it was registered. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends annual checks on August 15 each year, National Check the Chip Day.
3. Prepare a Pet Emergency Bag
Perhaps you’re one of those super-prepared people who always has a “go bag” sitting in an accessible place, just in case of disasters. Well, there’s no reason that you can’t do the same for your pet. This will save you having to locate key items and waste valuable time.
So, what do you include in a pet emergency kit? Here are a few important items:
- Enough dog chow or biscuits, and water, to last them for several days at least, though preferably up to a week.
- Anti-sickness medication, if your pet is prone to car sickness.
- Any existing medication that your pet takes.
- Medical records for your dog, including a list of vaccinations.
- Comforting toys that they’re familiar with.
- Poop bags and other equipment for cleaning up a mess.
- Their leash and/or harness, and ideally, a backup leash.
If in doubt, plan to be away from home for around a week. This should give you an idea of the items you may or may not need to include in your pet emergency bag.
4. Nominate a Second Carer
In case things don't quite go to plan, you should have a nominated carer who can look after your pup instead. It's a good idea to make sure they know about your dog's usual routines, their food preferences, and any medications they may be taking.
5. Prepare for the Worst
While being prepared can help to keep you, your family, and your dog safe, injuries can still happen. In addition to your own first aid kit, you should prepare a pet first aid kit for any minor scrapes. Of course, there's no substitute for a licensed veterinarian should an accident occur, so keep details of your usual vet and some potential backups; normal services could be affected.
Be the Rock for Your Dog
Remember, hurricanes are usually very upsetting events for dogs, and for pets in general. Speak to your vet for advice on the best medications you can use to keep them calm. Anti-anxiety and sedative medications can help to alleviate some of the anxiety and fear your poor pup can feel during one of these events.