Originally Published: June 5, 2018 6:06 a.m.
PHOENIX (BUSINESS WIRE via AP) — Whether it’s a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake, a wildfire or a flood — natural disasters are frightening and often unexpected.
Because June is National Pet Preparedness Month, veterinarians at PetSmart, a North American pet specialty retailer, are providing safety tips to pet owners on how to help keep pets safe and calm in the event of a natural disaster.
“The best way to keep pets safe during an emergency is to prepare a disaster plan, especially with hurricane season around the corner,” said Nick Saint-Erne, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert.
“It is common to overlook pets when preparing for an emergency, but taking a few simple steps to include your pets’ needs in your family preparedness plan will help ensure they are comfortable and safe in the event of an emergency.”
Saint-Erne suggests the following pet preparedness safety measures:
Ensure your pets are safely contained
When severe weather warnings go into effect, crate or kennel your animals.
Consider getting a pet carrier if you don’t already have one, and practice crate training in advance to avoid extra stress during an emergency. These are easy solutions to keep your dog or cat contained and ready to travel at a moment’s notice.
Have buckets or plastic bins with a lid on hand for fish and turtles in the event you need to evacuate them; this is a safer alternative than transporting these pets in glass bowls or aquariums.
Identify pet-friendly housing options
Ensure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations; they are often needed for boarding. Make sure you have a supply of your pet’s medication. Be sure, too, to have your pet’s medical records on file and on-hand.
Ask friends, relatives and others outside of your immediate area whether they can shelter your animals.
Prepare a list of animal shelters, boarding facilities and veterinarian offices that could shelter your animals during an emergency and include 24-hour phone numbers.
Make sure your pet has identification
Countless pets go missing after storms. Proper ID on your pet is the best assurance that you and your pet will be reunited in the event you are separated during an emergency.
“Consider microchip identification for your pets, as this is a permanent way to identify them,” Saint-Erne said. “All rescue groups and veterinarians can check lost pets for microchip identification.
“After a disaster, if you have lost your pet, post you pet’s information on websites that are designed to help reunite lost pets with their owners. It’s also a good idea to check to see if your pet may have been dropped off at the local humane association,” Saint-Erne said.
Be aware of “paw-level” hazards
Sharp debris, toxic, spilled chemicals, fertilizers and other substances on the floor of the home or ground outside may pose less risk to upright humans, but can be dangerous to ground-level pets.
Downed power lines from hurricanes and high water from floods can also pose a threat for animals after a disaster. Take the time to consider the dangers your pet will face before entering into an area, home, shelter or other building.
Severe weather can be frightening to pets. Provide your dog or cat with a familiar toy or blanket or try aids like calming sprays, collars, chews, supplements or a ThunderShirt to help ease anxiety.
Assemble a pet disaster supply kit
Create a pet safety kit, including the following, in an easy-to-carry, waterproof container that can be taken during storms, fires, earthquakes and evacuations:
Portable food and water bowls, along with a one-week supply of food and fresh water; hard copies of each pet’s updated vaccination records; an extra supply of medication (if refrigeration is necessary, have easy access to a small, insulated bag or cooler); and first-aid items such as antiseptic spray, antibacterial ointment and liquid bandage products to deliver quick first-aid care in the event of a pet injury; a list of regional, pet-friendly hotels; a bed, carrier or leash and harness for each animal; pet waste bags; cat litter, litter box and scoop; and current photos and descriptions of your pets in case they get lost.
PetSmart employs approximately 55,000 associates and operates more than 1,600 pet stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, as well as more than 200 in-store PetSmart PetsHotel dog and cat boarding facilities.
The retailer also provides a broad range of pet food and products, as well as services such as dog training, pet grooming, pet boarding, and pet adoption.
The company works with more than 3,500 animal-welfare organizations to bring adoptable pets into stores to finding a forever home. Through this in-store adoption program and other signature events, PetSmart has facilitated more than 8 million adoptions, more than any other brick-and-mortar organization, the company said in a media release.