Hurricanes have ravaged parts of Florida, Texas and the Caribbean in 2017, and many animals have been displaced by the storms. The trauma associated with hurricanes affects people and animals, but is especially difficult on the elderly… and elderly pets are no exception.
The Old Dog House, a rescue organization dedicated to helping senior pets in Jacksonville, Florida, explains how to protect senior pets in a hurricane.
- Keep Pets Calm: Just like humans, animals can sense the emotions associated with an impending storm. Many of them may experience symptoms of anxiety, such as barking or howling, destructive behaviors or the intense desire to escape. Senior pets who have suffered abuse or neglect many find the hurricanes especially traumatizing. Keep pets in a safe, quiet place with few windows, offer them comforts such as their blankets or safe toys and allow them to rest during the storm. Remember to give them ample food and water.
- Create a Pet Emergency Kit: Keep a supply of pet food, fresh water, medications, crates, leashes, training pads and other essentials in an easy-to-find spot. Remember to include your pet’s identification and health records. If you have cats, make sure to bring litter and litter boxes.
- Make Sure Medications are Accessible: Because senior pets are more likely to need medication to stay healthy, ensure medication is packed and you have an ample supply to last before, during and after a hurricane. Make sure to keep refills of medications up-to-date, especially during hurricane season.
- Ensure Pets are Microchipped and Wearing Identification: Many pets are displaced during hurricanes, so it is vital to ensure you can find your pet if they go missing. Make sure pets are microchipped (a veterinarian can insert a small chip just under your pet’s skin with a unique number that is assigned to your name and contact information) and wearing tags with you current address and phone number engraved on them.
- Know Pet-Friendly Shelters: Should you have to evacuate during a hurricane, make sure to look up pet-friendly shelters in your area in advance of the storm. Many shelters require pre-registration, so know the rules for your local pet-friendly shelter in advance. Remember to arrive early as pet-friendly shelters may fill quickly.
- Know Pet-Friendly Hotels: If you are evacuating to a hotel, make sure to research hotels that accept pets (and the size of pets they accept) in advance. Hotel rooms book up quickly as a hurricane looms, so make sure to have a list of pet-friendly hotels ready should you need to evacuate.
- Offer to Foster: After a hurricane, many pets are displaced and need as safe, comfortable place to stay while they are looking for their families or rehomed. Animal shelters are sometimes overrun by homeless animals, so fostering is a great way to help an animal in need. Contact an animal welfare organization like ours to foster after a storm and help a furry friend in need.
The Old Dog House is Northeast Florida’s first nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to giving older and senior dogs a second chance at a new life. We rely solely on the generosity of the individuals in our community for assistance in furthering our mission to give older and senior dogs a second, sometimes third, chance at living out their lives in dignity.