Hopefully, Matthew left you unscathed and we hope that things here in south Florida soon return to normal. We’re reminded, though, that we are now well into hurricane season.  If you haven’t already, it’s certainly time to make sure that you are completely prepared for the next tropical storm that comes our way.  As you’ve just seen, Mother Nature whips up some furious weather with a hurricane or tropical storm.  High winds, rising water, flying debris, loss of electricity… all combine to create one of nature’s most frightening phenomena.  And if this is terrifying to you – and I’m sure it is — just imagine how your pet feels!

1. Have a Plan
Simply put, be prepared. Decide on a course of action and make sure you can initiate it at a moment’s notice. Have supplies set aside in a safe, easily accessible place. It’s like having candles or a flashlight under the kitchen sink in case of a black out. You may never need them, but if a blackout happens, there’s no need to scramble in the dark, because you know exactly where to go and what to do for light.

2. Prepare an Emergency Kit
An emergency kit for your pet is essential, and is much like one that you would (or should!?) prepare for yourself.  Start with essentials like food and water; ideally, enough water and non-perishable food for three to five days.  Make sure that you have a lighter and flashlight, a solid carrier, litter and litter box for your cat, puppy pads and leash for your pooch, plastic bags, and any medicines your pet may be taking.  Very important!  Medical records!  These will be essential if for some reason you and your pet need to evacuate to a hotel or shelter.  You may want to pay a visit to your Boca Raton veterinarian when you know that a storm is on the horizon.  She can help you get your records together, and give you advice on how to manage your pet in a panic situation.

Of course, make sure that you “waterproof” as much of your kit’s contents as possible. Also, identification tags… tags that are absolutely, securely fastened to your pet and/or microchipping will make it easier to recover your pet should the two of you be separated during the storm.

3. Staying In and Stay Calm
If you’re staying home to ride out the storm, keep your pet in its carrier or on a leash. You never know when you might be forced to evacuate. And even if that doesn’t happen, you don’t want to be tracking down a petrified pet during the chaos.

Whether you choose to stay, or are required to evacuate due to the storm’s severity or due to house damage, remember to stay calm. Your pet is an expert at sensing your emotions – fear in particular – so it is important to stay calm.  Soothing words and calming actions will also go a long way in helping your pet “weather” a fearful experience!