The devastation and destruction in Texas from hurricane Harvey is completely heartbreaking.  Unfortunately, as we are all trying to wrap our heads around the aftermath of this horrible storm and provide support for the rescue efforts in Texas, we must prepare ourselves for another storm that is quickly approaching.  For us Floridians, hurricanes are all too familiar, ruthless, and entirely unpredictable.  We must always remain prepared during the months of August through November.  After seeing countless videos of the pet rescue efforts going on in Texas, I want to remind everyone that our pets need be accounted for as well.  As we prepare for hurricane Irma, please remember that our pets rely on us to get them ready for the next big storm.  So, here are my best tips on how to prepare your pets for the next inevitable hurricane.

Make Sure Your Pet Is Prepared for a Hurricane

Have an evacuation plan:

  • We all create a plan in case of an evacuation, but it is important to make sure that pets are allowed wherever you are headed. Many motels, hotels, and shelters do not allow for pets. Be prepared and make sure your evacuation plan includes your pets.
  • If your evacuation location does not allow for pets, choose designated caregivers that can care for your pets.  Keep a list of friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters, or veterinarians who you know can care for your animals in an emergency. Be prepared with a list of phone numbers.
  • Many times in emergencies, we need to separate pets.  Be prepared to designate more than one place for your pets to go.
  • Include your pets in evacuation drills so that they become accustom to traveling in their carriers comfortably.

Have emergency supplies and travel kits ready:

  • Have leashes, harnesses and/or carriers ready to transport pets safely and ensure that they cannot escape.
  • Make sure to have enough supply of food, drinking water, bowls, and cat litter. Don’t forget a can opener if you pet eats canned food.
  • Remember all medications and keep copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
  • Make a hurricane first aid kit which includes the following:
    • Identification (current color photo of your pet, ID tag including owners name, current address, contact phone number).
    • Keep medical records and information of any medical conditions, or behavior problems handy.
    • Keep information on feeding schedules, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
    • Always keep a list of veterinarians and 24-hour emergency animal hospitals that are close to your destination if you need to evacuate.
    • Make sure to include pet beds and toys, or something that provides your pet with comfort during what can be a difficult time.

Be prepared to Travel with Your Pets:

  • Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are current and that they are wearing collars with up-to-date identification (many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations).
  • Stock up on any medications your pet requires, along with a copy of their medical records.
  • Many pets get lost or displaced during natural disasters.  Make sure your pet is microchipped and that their microchip is registered and current.
  • If your pet exhibits anxiety and stress during storms or travel, have your veterinarian prescribe a sedative if needed.  Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your pet any medications.

Rescue Sticker Alert

  • The ASPCA recommends this sticker be displayed so that people know there are pets inside your home.
  • Make sure your sticker is visible and includes the number of and type of pets in your household.

With all the nervousness and busy preparations for hurricanes, please make sure to keep your pets in mind.  They rely on us to ensure their safety and well-being.  As always, your pets’ health and well-being are always my top priority.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of hurricane Harvey.  So many people and pets have lost their loved ones and homes.  If you would like to make a donation, please go to The Humane Society.  Wishing everyone a safe and prepared journey.  Please be safe!

About Dr. Alison Birken

My name is Dr. Alison Birken and I am a small animal veterinarian, wife, mother of three, and a sister to my three siblings. I graduated veterinary school from The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006, and completed a year internship in small animal medicine at Florida Veterinary Specialist in Tampa, Florida. I have been practicing small animal medicine for 11 years and over the past 6 years have dedicated my life to building and operating an animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accomplishing a lifelong goal of mine. In addition, along with my sisters (Katie, a pediatrician and Carrie, a fashion stylist), I am a co-founder of Forever Freckled (www.foreverfreckled.com), a website dedicated to helping people with pets, children, and everyday lifestyle. It has been an incredible journey turning my passion for animals into a career and nothing brings me more joy than to help pets and their parents with wellness and healthy living. For wellness and health tips for pets, and other lifestyle advice, please follow our journey on www.foreverfreckled.com.

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