Pets’ hurricane plan needed

With the recent Hurricane Gustav warning over – thank goodness ‘a safety drill’ for us all – it is a good time to remind animal owners of our hurricane preparedness for pets advice.

We are well into the season and now is an opportune time to review your plans and ensure your pet related supplies are in order.

Hurricane preparedness for pets is important as caring for animals in the event of disaster is often overlooked. As with all hurricane safety measures, the key is to plan in advance for your pet’s safety. The following are some guidelines:

• Make sure your pet has a current identification or license tag. Even better, make sure that your pet has a microchip implanted underneath the skin for permanent id, that way if the tag or collar falls off, the pet will have the microchip to fall back on.

•Obtain a pet carrier or crate in case you need to evacuate your home and take your pet with you. Include a blanket and a favourite toy to make the pet feel more comfortable. Again, make sure the crate is properly identified with your name and contact information.

• Be prepared to restrain your animal. Animals can panic in a storm situation. Ensure you have leashes, collars, muzzles or harness available to keep your pet controlled.

• Stock up on pet food, water, litter, and other supplies. If your pet needs a special diet or medication, ensure that you have plenty on hand prior to a hurricane alert.

• Invest in a first aid kit for pets. Include items such as cleansers, bandage materials, water purification tablets, muzzle, and blankets.

• Choose an easily cleaned area away from windows to keep pets in case of an emergency (ie. washroom or bedroom). Newspaper or diaper pads can be used for dogs that are unable to access the outside to urinate and defecate on.

• If you plan to go to a shelter or leave the island, make prior arrangements for your pets with someone dependable.

• If you have to evacuate without your animals, be sure to bring them indoors to the prepared safe area. Leave a good supply of food (dry only) with plenty of drinking water (fill a sink or bathtub). Keep animals separated. Never leave a cat with a dog even if they are friendly.

• After the storm has passed, remember that the altered environment may cause pets to get lost. Animals may become disoriented and frightened and will need your patience and understanding. Fallen power lines, trees, etc., can pose a danger. Prevent pets from eating decayed material and contaminated water as this can make them very sick.

The above tips should help provide for the well being of your dog and cats if a hurricane comes. In case of medical emergency, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Remember you can never be too prepared!