Preparing for Severe Weather with your Pets

Midwest Sky and Corn Field

Living in the Midwest the natural disaster I have to be most prepared for is tornadoes and/or extreme thunderstorms. Tornado alley covers a pretty wide swath of the middle of the US so today I’m going to share with you some of my own tips for prepping your pets for a potential storm as well as guidelines from officials like the Red Cross, Ready.gov and the ASPCA. 

First things first, it’s important to understand the various warning messages and what they actually mean.

Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.

Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Tornado Prep with Pets

Put your Plan in Action Ahead of the Storm

My biggest tip for preparing with pets is to have your plan in action before you ever get to the warning stage. Cats can be especially difficult to wrangle quickly, so when we had cats in the house we would start moving them to the basement well before the severe weather actually reached us. Getting them into carriers would be even better.

For the dogs, I have two kennels set up in the basement in the event we have to take cover. In the event our house took damage, the dogs would be contained and can be covered with a blanket to protect them from debris or broken glass. Remember, you don’t have to take a direct hit from a tornado to suffer structural damage or broken windows!

Preparing for Natural Disasters with your Pets

Keep Your Pets Calm

Again, if your pets get storm anxiety it’s best to act before the severe weather begins. Thundershirts work wonderfully for many dogs and all-natural calming aides like Pet Naturals of Vermont Calming Treats can be given 30 minutes ahead to help take the edge off of anxiety. Even if your dog doesn’t normally get storm anxiety, taking cover from severe weather can be stressful.

Build a Pet Emergency Kit

The Red Cross and ASPCA recommend having the following items on hand in a pet emergency preparedness kit:

  • Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a First Aid kit.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
  • Food, drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and manual can opener.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet bed or toys if easily transportable.

Having your pet microchipped is very important, but in the aftermath of a disaster people may not be able to have them scanned easily. So it’s also important to have an ID tag with current information so that people can quickly and easily contact you. Since Pug doesn’t wear a collar, I have never gotten him an ID tag – I am realizing now that I should probably add one to one of his harnesses and designate that as his “emergency harness” just in case.

Go Forth and Prepare

I would love to know where you are from and if you have a disaster plan in place for your pets, so leave a comment below! 

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