Yes, we live in beautiful, sunny Florida, but right now there is a concern we need to keep in mind. We are currently in the middle of hurricane season (May-Nov). Along with the summer and fall comes the threat of strong storms that can be life-threatening to both people and their pets. Luckily, we typically know the storm is coming several days before it lands, but don’t put things off until the last minute! If you have not already made plans, PLEASE do so now! As we found out last year, one storm can affect us for days, if not longer. My home was out of power for 4 days. While losing access to the internet can seem to many to be devastating, the reality is that these storms can and often are truly life-threatening. It is crucial that you plan ahead for the needs not only of your human family, but also those of your non-humans.
If the storm causes you to need or want to evacuate, where will you go? Most storm shelters do not allow pets, nor do many hotels. Plan a location that allows you to have your pets. All pet-friendly shelters will require that your pet be contained in a crate, and some may require up to date vaccinations for communicable diseases and current pet license. Train your pet to not only accept, but enjoy the crate. Some local boarding facilities may board during a storm because they are built to hurricane standards (like YAH), check with your facility of choice to see if they are an option if you choose to evacuate but cannot take your pets. Unfortunately, some “pet-friendly” shelters will still not allow, or will give a hard time to owners of pet birds and reptiles (or “pocket pet mammals”). If you have these pets, please check ahead to see if they are allowed. The Brevard County website has links to pet-friendly hotels as well as the checklist you will need if you elect to go to a county shelter http://www.brevardfl.gov/EmergencyManagement/HaveAPlan/Pets
Whether you plan to evacuate with your pets, or plan to keep them with a trusted facility, please be sure you have planned for all events.
Ensure that you have at least 1 week of food and drinkable water, this also includes chew toys/treats.
Have at least 2 weeks of necessary medication
Make sure your pet obtains adequate flea/tick control, and heartworm preventatives. Many areas in FL become essentially swamps after a big storm, which allows mosquitoes to flourish and threatens pets.
Ensure that all pets are wearing identification. If not done already, consider having your pet microchipped. If the worst happens and your pet ends up in a shelter facility, the chip will help get your pet back to you very quickly!
If your plans include other areas, consider vaccinating your pets for that area. For example, many areas to our north-east are at risk for Lyme disease. If you might be in an at-risk area, we strongly recommend vaccination.
Check with your power company whether they have advanced notice options. Some companies allow you to register to get bulletins sent by text or voicemail to allow you to know if your residence is within a power outage.
Dealing with severe weather is part of living in Florida. But with adequate preparation, we can hopefully ride out the storms safely.
If you would like to make an appointment to update your pet’s vaccines, please click to request an appointment https://youngsanimalhospital.com/appointments/
Angela Bockelman, DVM, PhD