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Hurricanes and pet safety: Top five at-home storm tips after one wet and wild night

After a day of hurricane preparations and a night of intense, windy rain squalls here in South Florida, I figure it’s time to give you a download on issues to consider when a storm or natural disaster leaves you hunkering in your home with your pets.

Of course, this assumes that you’re not evacuating your abode after making a careful decision regarding the safety issues you and your pets will likely confront by remaining behind.

Last night’s storm, Miss Fay of the Haiti-Cuba-Florida express, is a perfect example of a Miami storm worth sticking around for. I mean, why evacuate with two goats, two guinea pigs and two dogs when the highest level of sustained winds were predicted at 50 mph?

But it did serve as a great trial run for the next one…and there will inevitably be a next one…

So here are my tips:

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 beforehand—or less.

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, inside small bathrooms 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.

(Good thing my guinea pigs can be easily moved to a relatively windowless area.)

3 - Plan for safe pet water stores

Have plenty of containers for filling up with clean water 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 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!

OK that’s it for today. I’m off to clean up more branches and debris.

Feel free to contribute your favorite storm/natural disaster pet-prep techniques.


Dr. Patty Khuly


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