As someone who’s lived through more than my share of hurricanes (I live in South Florida, after all), I’ve become something of a pro on animal disaster prep. That’s why I feel qualified to offer you my top five tips on storm preparedness here.

And now that the height of the season is upon us, I think we can all use a refresher.

1-Do most of your prep well in advance...on paper

Think out the scary scenarios in your head and commit them to paper before you’re faced with storm or evacuation notices twelve hours - or less - beforehand. Know where you're going AND TAKE YOUR PETS WITH YOU. There is never a good excuse to leave your pets home alone during an evacuation-worthy storm.

2-Isolate pets so you can divide and conquer in a pinch

Find a spot to isolate each pet in your home so you know where she’ll be if the storm gets rougher than you expected. Crates and cages are a must for most pets. Think out the ideal spots: Away from windows, against walls, or inside small bathrooms that have been safely trimmed of nummy, peppermint foot creams and poisonous sprays.

For example, for my goats I cleaned out my son’s bathroom (sparer than mine) just in case I’d have to bring them inside. But luckily, their outdoor wood-and-bolts enclosure is built with storm winds in mind then surrounded by a tiny gated space so they can’t make an injudicious break for the trees in a panic.

3-Plan for safe pet water stores

Have plenty of containers for filling up with clean water for after the storm, should major infrastructure damage occur in your area. Buying bottled water is usually a waste of energy, whereas filling up clean, reusable containers is very green and (I think) more convenient, to boot. (Pets don’t savor Perrier any more than tap water, in my experience.)

4-Focus on food and supplies before the storm

Have enough pet food, medication and supplies on hand for a minimum of two weeks. ‘Nuff said.

5-Sedation sensation

OK, so I don’t ever sedate my pets—none have yet to require it. But some pets will experience severe trauma during the kind of storm that brings heavy thunder, loud freight-train noises and/or tree limbs crashing down about your house. 

If you know that your pets have severe noise phobias, sedatives and secure crates will almost certainly be necessary. Plan ahead by discussing this with your vet in the off-season so you can give the meds a whirl in a controlled (non-storm) setting. Do NOT plan on using any meds for the first time before a major weather event!

Any questions?

Dr. Patty Khuly