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For the love of your pet: Prepare your pet for hurricane season

By By John Beck
June 6, 2013 at 1:06 a.m.


Hurricane season is right around the corner, and they say it's going to be a bad one. What do I need to prepare for my dogs in case one hits Victoria?

I, too, have heard this season's forecast for hurricanes in the Gulf is going to be pretty bad. Having a plan for not only your human family but also your pet family is essential to avoiding panic and disaster.

Just like your human family . think of your pet's basic needs first. If the electricity and water supply are lost to your home during a storm, you want to make sure everyone is covered. Dogs, cats, ferrets, etc. couldn't care less if the lights don't come on when the switch is flipped.

Their main concerns are food, water and shelter. Make sure you have enough water for your pets. They will need water to drink and also to cool off with if the temperature gets too extreme or to wash off with if they are soiled.

Don't forget that often pets will drink more water than normal in high times of stress. So if your dog normally drinks a "bowlful" a day, you should measure how much fits in a bowl and at least double it for emergency reasons.

You might be wondering why you would need to be bathing your dog in the middle of a hurricane (well, not necessarily in the middle but afterward.) Dogs, especially, have a tendency to roam, and who knows what they will get into?

Some things could smell bad or pose a risk of infection if not rinsed. If a pet gets an abrasion, you will need water to keep the wound clean until you can get veterinary assistance.

A first aid kit for your pet is always a good idea. You can keep some over-the-counter medications in your pet's kit in case he or she becomes ill. Work with me or your veterinarian to make a list of medications, indications for use and dosage that fits your specific pet.

Alcohol spray or wipes and an antibiotic ointment are good things to include. Alcohol spray is not only good for cuts and abrasions but also for spraying on your pet's pads (feet) to help cool them off if they get to hot. Don't forget to include current medications as well. Don't let yourself run low on daily prescribed medications.

Food is also another item to stock up on. Keep in mind, you do not know when the store will open again, how long its current stock of dog food will last or when the next delivery will be. Two weeks or more is an appropriate extra amount of food to have on hand for your pet.

And last but not least, think about shelter. Providing a safe, shaded, well-ventilated place for your pet is something a lot of people don't think about. They figure the backyard is a good place - but not if your fence is blown down or completely missing.

Make sure you have a crate that your pet can lay down, stand up and turn around in in case you have to travel or need a safe place for them to be when you can't be with them.

Make sure your pet has a microchip in case they get away from you. A collar and leash with your information is a good idea, too. You will need a way besides carrying your pet to get around if roads and vehicles are not an option.

If you decide to evacuate, make sure you take all the above items with you. As everyone witnessed a couple of years ago, evacuations can be a very, very long process. Who knows how far you will make it or what trouble you will run into along the way? Try not to put your pets unsheltered in the bed of a pickup.

I saw a lot of dogs with severe burns to the skin from sitting in the bed of a pickup truck for hours upon hours during the last evacuation. Other items to get taken care of include: making sure vaccinations are up to date and you have a recent copy and having extra medications (heartworm preventative, flea/tick preventative and other prescribed meds).

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.

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