National pet week was last week, but if you’re an animal lover, you appreciate your pet all year long. So for those who love all creatures great and small, we thought we’d share some tips on how to care for your pets during the inevitable storms that come with spring and summer.
Spring is the time of year when many things change—including the weather. Temperatures swing between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightning, tornadoes, and flooding.
Heavy winds, rain, and snow can be hazardous for pets. Luckily, there are a variety of measures you can take to keep your pets safe when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Regardless of whether you’re a cat person or a dog person, consider these tips to keep your four-legged friends safe during severe storms.
Bring pets inside
Pets, especially dogs, can quickly become distressed during storms or due to sudden loud noises, so it’s essential to bring them inside at the first sign of bad weather.
If your cat primarily lives outside, they may or may not come to the door before or during a storm. If you can’t find them, don’t put yourself in danger by looking for them. It’s likely they’ve found a safe hiding place, such as under a bush or parked vehicle.
Create a calm environment
Creating a calm environment can minimize a pet’s storm-related anxiety. Keep a television, radio, or white-noise machine on low volume to help muffle the sound of thunder, and close curtains to reduce the effect of lightning flashes.
If you use a crate, place it in the quietest room of the house during a storm. Crates offer a natural, psychological defense for pets and can help calm them in stressful situations.
Distracting your pet with toys, petting them, or giving them treats is another way to shift their focus away from wild weather. It’s also important that you stay calm during a storm because pets can read your mood. If you’re showing signs of stress, they’ll pick up on it and become even more anxious.
Be aware of signs of stress
Pets show stress and anxiety in different ways. Cats are likely to hide in a dark space, such as under a bed, until a storm passes. Dogs show anxiety in more physical forms, such as panting, drooling, shaking, yawning, and putting their tails between their legs. They may also drink more than usual, so make sure they have plenty of water.
Let your dog pace around or hide where they feel the most secure (as long as it’s safe), as this may help them relax. Don’t force them into a specific part of the home, unless you and your pet need to take cover in a basement due to a severe weather threat, such as a tornado.
Some storms pass quickly, while others linger. This is especially true of winter storms, which can knock out power, close roads, and even confine you in your home for days. If you know a severe storm is coming, be prepared by stocking up on pet food and any medications your pet may need.
You should also have a pet emergency kit on hand for severe weather. Aside from food and medications, consider including the following items:
- vaccination records
- pet insurance policy (if you have one) photos of your pet in case they get lost
- cat litter and pan
- pet carrier
- food dishes
- basic first-aid supplies
Crate or leash animals when taking shelter
If dangerous weather forces you into a basement or storm shelter, crate or leash your pets and take them with you. If you ride the storm out in a basement, leashing or crating your pets will keep them from wandering into unsafe areas.
Take animals with you during an evacuation
If life-threatening weather, such as a hurricane, forces you to evacuate your home, take your pets with you. Any pet left behind may not survive, and it’s likely you won’t be allowed back into an evacuation zone to get your pets for many days after a disaster.
Be aware that most community shelters don’t allow pets (unless they are service animals), so if you plan to ride out severe weather in a shelter, you’ll have to make other arrangements for your pets. If you decide not to take cover in a shelter, consider a pet-friendly hotel or a friend’s or relative’s home outside of the evacuation zone.
Regardless of where you take shelter, make a plan ahead of time, and stick to it. The more prepared you are, the more time you’ll have to evacuate and reach a spot that’s safe for both you and your pets.