Hurricane Preparedness for Your Pets!

The summer is half way over here in the low country and while we are enjoying the beaches, BBQ’s and good times with our family and pets it is also important to remember that we are in hurricane season with many of our annual storms time frame coming up. Charleston has been known to get hit with tropical storms or hurricanes almost yearly causing many to evacuate to safer locations. Of course, this means taking our beloved animals with us. We all know how stressful it can be watching the radars and news waiting to see if we need to evacuate or not and often we only have a few days’ notice. This year plan in advance and have a grab and go bag and checklist set for your animals to ensure nothing is left behind. The summer is half way over here in the low country and while we are enjoying the beaches, BBQ’s and good times with our family and pets it is also important to remember that we are in hurricane season with many of our annual storms time frame coming up. Charleston has been known to get hit with tropical storms or hurricanes almost yearly causing many to evacuate to safer locations. Of course, this means taking our beloved animals with us. We all know how stressful it can be watching the radars and news waiting to see if we need to evacuate or not and often we only have a few days’ notice. This year plan in advance and have a grab and go bag and checklist set for your animals to ensure nothing is left behind.

Grab and Go Bag
Making a pet grab bag now can help save you last minute trips to the pet store and ensure you have everything essential to making the trip smoother for your pet. A grab and go bag should be filled with everyday needs along with some items that help sooth your pet. Here are some suggestions on what to pack…

  • Hard food
  • Non-refrigerated soft food (Don’t forget a can opener)
  • Treats Chew toys (often dogs will get anxiety in unfamiliar places)
  • Toys for cat/dog Vet prescribed travel meds (yes, animals get car sick)
  • Blankets Scratch pads (helps soothe cat anxiety)
  • First aid kit Anxiety coat/wrap for animals that get nervous
  • Bath/grooming supplies
  • Portable water and food bowls


Don’t Leave Home Without

Great, now you have all the items that are easy to pack in a bag or suitcase and ready to grab while packing your car. Now we move on to the larger items. These items are a must while traveling away from home and most likely going to a hotel or family/friends home where your pet will be in a new setting.

  • Portable crate for cat(s). Since we can’t walk our cats on stops and depending on what size car you have and space available a more comfortable solution here would be a folding dog crate where you can set up a litter box and have some spare room for your cat to relax. If this is not an option for you then ensure that you get a cat carrier that is big enough for your cat to turn around in. Line the bottom with a blanket or bed to prevent sliding and more comfortable travel. You can also put a blanket over the crate to black it out if you find it helps calm your cat.
  • Folding crate for dog(s). If your dog doesn’t travel in a crate, then personally I think the folding dog crates are the best option. They save space and are easy to pop up upon arrival. Even if your dog never is crated it is still recommended to travel with one. Dogs show anxiety diverse ways from chewing to losing their bladder and in a hotel or family members house this would not go over too well.
  • Cat litter, small litter box and scoop. Take it from someone who has been there before. Buy a spare box of cat litter that you can put away for last minute trips. I cannot express the frustration of having to run out last minute for it or to find out the store is out of the brand your cat uses to have to drive around to find some. Save yourself the hassle, your cat will appreciate you more for it. Also, don’t forget the extra litter box and scoop along with some poop bags to clean the box.
  • Bottled water. We all should start buying bottled water now in segments as we all know this is the first thing stores run out of. You will need this water for not only you but your pets while traveling. It is advised to not fill up water bowls in bathrooms along the way. Animals’ stomachs can be very sensitive to water change and too much iron or bacteria in new water can make for more stops than necessary for your pet to go potty.
  • Nonretractable leash and harness. Retractable leashes are very common but not the best while traveling. During stops you may not have much room to walk your dog. You will want to keep them on a tight leash to ensure they do not wander into traffic, get too close to other dogs whom may not be friendly and also preventing the risk of the leash breaking. Retractable leashes can easily snap or get jammed if pulled on too hard. If your dog wears a harness invest in a spare one that you can keep attached to your travel leash.
  • Medications. If your pet is on medications daily, then make sure this is on the top of your list to grab. If you are evacuating, then there is a good chance that your vet office will be closed or may lose power, not allowing you to have them call in a prescription to the pharmacy or a vet in the current location you are staying. From here to November keep count of your refills and never wait to last minute to get them.


Safety and Precautions
Now that you have all the essentials that your pet will need while traveling there are some safety and precaution items to keep in a safe spot with you. I personally keep these items in the glove compartment of my vehicle.

  • Vaccine and medical records
  • Microchip information (make sure their collar has their microchip and rabies tags)
  • Recent picture each animal
  • Vet contact information

If your cat does not usually wear a collar I would still put one on them while traveling in case, they get out. They may dislike it at first but will grow accustomed to it.

All Set and Ready for Hurricane Season
Although we all hope we will be spared of any hurricanes or tropical storms, it is important to remember we cannot predict the future so playing it safe is always the best route. You now have a checklist to ensure that nothing is left behind for your pet. Our checklist is just a beginner one though, and yours should be added onto based on each pet such as beds, favorite toys, small critters have a travel crate, etc. Take some time to walk around to where you keep your pets’ supplies and think if there is anything that you need to add on. We recommend that you prepare for 2 weeks’ time of being away with a minimum of 1 week. One last suggestion that we will make is doing a pre-storm car packing. I do this every year to plan out where all the supplies will go, where we will put nonanimals items and where we will fit. This practice round can help you determine if you have enough space or if you need to look into a trailer rack or roof rack. I personally purchased a roof rack that does not need the rails to install at www.roofbag.com. A set to go pet preparedness bag, supplies and check list are also a fantastic way to ensure you have what you would need if the power goes out for multiple days, planning on staying through a storm or last minute need to pack up and go due to nonweather circumstances.

A note from Love and a Leash to our clients
Being in the pet sitting industry we have had to plan ahead and think about what will happen if a storm comes. Almost yearly we have had to call clients who were planning to be away or are away while a storm is approaching. We ask all of our clients to have a backup plan for their pets in these instances. Legally we are not insured to take your pet away from their home, meaning that they cannot evacuate with us. We can however pick up your pet and bring them to a boarding facility, or to a family member or friends house who can take them in or evacuate with them during the storm. These plans will need to be made in advance allowing a few days for the exchange to be made before the storm hits. If you still plan on being away while the storm is predicted, then other arrangements will also need to be made with your pet before you leave.  Although our concerns are with your pets we still need to look out for the safety of our employees. We do not provide visits during tropical storms or hurricanes. This also applies for flooding. If you know you are in a known flood zone, please have a backup plan with a neighbor who can make it to your house. We understand that this may cause some difficulty for those who are away, however this is why we stress the importance of a backup plan.

We wish everyone a safe and fun rest of the summer and hurricane season!

Thank you Love and a Leash client’s!

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