Severe Weather Pet Safety: Are You Prepared?

severe weatherAustin residents are no strangers to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. You may have an idea of what to do in the event of severe weather, but have you considered pet safety?

Severe weather pet safety is an important part of responsible pet ownership. By planning ahead for our pets, we can help to reduce their anxiety and keep them from harm.

Prepare Your Shelter

Having a safe place to go in the event of a tornado is crucial for the safety of everyone in your home. Once you have identified your tornado-proof room or cellar, make sure it is animal friendly by removing dangerous items, such as tools or toxic products, that may be stored there.

Stock your tornado shelter with emergency pet supplies, including extra food, water, any medications your pet is taking, litter box and litter or puppy pads, a leash or carrier, and veterinary records. Practice getting your pet into the tornado-safe area quickly (this includes knowing your pet’s favorite hiding spots).

Evacuation Concerns

Severe weather may damage your home or surrounding area to the point where evacuation is necessary. Take the following precautions to keep your pet safe in the event of an evacuation:

  • Never leave your pet behind! If your home isn’t safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet.
  • If you have to evacuate, take your emergency pet supplies with you.
  • Many shelters won’t allow pets, so be sure to identify boarding kennels, pet-friendly hotels, relatives, or other safe places for your pet to be taken care of in the event of an emergency.
  • Keep your pet up-to-date on vaccinations and parasite prevention for his or her continued health and safety.

Severe Weather Pet Safety Alert

Many pets feel an instinctual urge to flee when they are frightened during a severe weather event. Providing your pet with a collar with current ID tags, and making sure he or she is microchipped (and that the microchip has been registered with your current contact information), will greatly increase the chances that you will be reunited in the event your pet escapes.

Calming an Anxious Pet

All this talk of tornadoes and evacuations is certainly important, but it’s far more likely that we won’t have anything more serious to deal with this summer than the usual round of noisy thunderstorms. For many pets, however, a thunderstorm can seem like the end of the world. You can help a pet cope by:

  • Bringing him or her inside until the storm passes.
  • Setting up a safe space for your pet to stay during a storm; that may be his or her crate or other area of your home where your pet feels secure.
  • Keeping the windows and curtains closed to reduce noise and flashes from lightning, and turning on the TV or radio to help drown out the storm sounds.
  • Remaining calm (pets can pick up on our emotions), using a soothing tone of voice, and offering snuggles to help him or her to relax.

Pets with severe anxiety may benefit from medication, in conjunction with training, to cope with their fear of storms. Your veterinarian will be happy to discuss your pet’s options with you.

Being prepared is always better than being reactive when it comes to severe weather pet safety! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your partners in pet care at Heart of Texas with your questions or concerns.