Emergency Preparedness For Your Pets

September is Designated as Emergency Preparedness Month

September is  National Emergency Preparedness Month. How very fitting as residents of the Carolinas and much of the East Coast are bracing for Hurricane Florence to hit later this week. Here at Coddle Creek we take this issue seriously.  We lived through Hurricane Hugo twenty-nine years ago and learned a great deal. 

emergency preparedness

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Hurricane Hugo Compared to Hurricane Florence

In Hugo, we learned there could be power outages as far west as Boone and Asheville.  We learned that rooftops could be lifted and homes destroyed.  Billy was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, SC.  He and other military personnel were “deployed” for weeks afterward in various parts of North and South Carolina to help with clean up.  

I lived in Asheville, NC.  My sister was a student at Appalachian State University in Boone.  Our brother lived in Clover, SC. We each experienced heavy rain and high winds with some damage in the areas of our homes.  Our parents lived on the family homeplace in Lincoln County.  Approximately 10 acres of their property was covered in hardwoods.  Remarkably, my father had enough downed trees to cut all the firewood they needed to heat their home for the next eleven years.  After their deaths, there was still enough firewood stacked in the chicken house to have heated their home for several years.

The National Weather Service website contains personal stories from numerous people, including the then young meteorologist Eric Thomas at WBTV.  A story in the Charlotte Observer on the 25th anniversary of Hugo tells similar stories.

Similarities Between Hugo and Florence

Florence has enough in common with Hugo to have us on alert and well prepared.  We expect you are prepared if you lived through Hugo, grew up hearing the stories or have lived around here long enough to meet some of us “old-timers.”  You most likely know what you need to keep yourself safe and comfortable. Therefore, we are focusing on the extra information you need to keep your cats, dogs, small caged pets and birds safe.  

Emergency Preparedness for Pets

A lot of emergency preparedness for pets is similar to emergency preparedness for humans.  We know the drill.  Have enough water and food. You need medication. Have supplies handy and ready to deploy.  But there are several special considerations for our pets.

Several major networks offer great tips.  Here is an article from CNN. And Fox News offers great tips too.

Special Food and Water Considerations for Pets

  • If you feed raw food you will need extra ice and coolers in case of power outages
  • For pets on a prescription veterinary diet you will need to have an extra bag of prescription kibble or box of canned prescription food
  • If you make home prepared meals for your pets you will need extra ice to keep the food safe if you lose electricty
  • For pets who eat regular kibble or canned food you need an adequate supply in case you can’t get to the store
  • Pets that drink distilled water or filtered water need extra jugs of water

Medication for Your Pets

  • If your pet is on  medication for thyroid issues, Cushings, diabetes, anxiety, etc you will need  enough for two weeks
  • But even if your pet is not usually anxious he may feel nervous with the noises of a major storm, changes in barometric pressure, etc
  • If you have to evacuate from your home your pet may get sick in your vehicle
  • If you have to move to the home of a relative or to a shelter, your pet may be nervous
  • In each of these instances it’s a good plan to talk with your vet today about what over the counter supplements may be helpful if it’s too late to have your pet evaluated for prescription medication  

Special Supplies for Your Pets

  • Nature’s Miracle makes a cat calming spray that can be sprayed on blankets and beds
  • Feliway makes diffusers and a calming solution for the cat scratching post
  • Sentry makes calming collars for cats
  • Adaptil makes calming collars, sprays and diffusers for dogs
  • There are numerous storefront retailers and on line retailers that sell a wide variety of calming treats, collars and sprays for multiple species of pets
  • It’s helpful to use one of the calming sprays on your pets’ blankets or to put a calming collar on them
  • It’s also helpful to give your pet a calming treat if they don’t have medication to treat anxiety

Pet Friendly Emergency Shelters and Hotels

  • Bring Fido provides information on pet friendly hotels
  • Here is a list of pet friendly emergency shelters
  • Many breed specific rescue organizations have active social media pages
  • Log into those social media pages to see if someone is offering a place to stay for others affected by the storm
  • Because most public emergency shelters will have separate areas for humans and pets you will need dog crates, cat carriers and bird cages for your pets
  • To block the scary view of others it’s helpful to place a blanket or towel over the dog crate or cat carrier.
  • Each dog will need a crate, bed, towels, food/water bowls, ID tags, collar, leash, harness, poop bags and toys
  • Each cat will need a carrier, bed, blankets, food/water bowls, toys, ID tags, collar, litter, litter box, litter scoop and bags to use for used litter
  • Consider a harness and leash for your cat
  • Each bird needs his or her cage, food and water containers, toys and blankets to cover the cage

What to Do Before the Next Pet Emergency

Chances are you were not fully prepared this time.  That’s ok.  Very few people are always fully prepared.  Good preparation takes planning, time and money. You can’t be blamed for not knowing what you don’t know.  Now you know so you will do better next time.

Next week do these steps:

Review the things we talked about and select the ones you have the time and budget to implement first. That might mean buying a dog crate.  Or maybe it’s getting one extra bag of pet food so you can stay ahead.  Likewise maybe you can schedule a vet appointment for your anxious pet to get medication. 

Train your cat to go in his carrier or your dog to love her crate. The public library has lots of books to help with this.  If your budget will stretch a little further schedule a few private sessions with a positive reinforcement trainer or take advantage of free classes offered

If you want to go a step further consider taking a pet cpr and first aid class in case your pet sustains an injury.  That’s helpful in every day life.  We teach Pet Tech classes and are happy to have you join us if your live nearby. 

Another great plan is to microchip your pets. 

And last but not least.  Never give up. This too shall pass.

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About Beth Harwell

Beth Leatherman Harwell and her husband, Billy Harwell own and operate a local pet sitting business, Dog Walkers & More at Coddle Creek, LLC. Beth and Billy take care of your dogs, cats, birds, fish and small caged pets in the comfort of your own home. Services are provided in Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Mt. Ulla, NC.
Beth is a retired clinical social worker turned business owner. She blogs about pet care needs and the human animal bond.
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