One out of every two people reading this message has a pet. And according to surveys, 90% of American pet owners consider their pet “a member of the family.”
So we’ve usually included pets in our articles about family preparedness, just like we include children.
But pets are not children.
So today I want to consider three pet situations that most prepper or survival blogs don’t seem to address.
1 – Pet phobias
Humans, even children, understand what a storm is, and can be calmed and thus make it through loud noises, lightning flashes, etc. They can recognize the need for evacuation.
Many pets, on the other hand, respond to a dramatic change not with understanding, but with real terror.
Their response can be so extreme that it can put them, other animals, and you or family members in danger.
We’ve told the story about a friend’s dog who attended a 4th of July celebration with us. The fireworks – not at all dangerous, and a couple of miles away – were enough to send Boo into a frenzy of barking, trembling, sweating, clawing, trying to run away, and peeing on everything and everybody. His terror lasted for the full 45 minute show. (Ruined it for us, of course.)
That was just one small dog. We kept him safe by holding him. (As you can imagine, Joe, who was doing the holding, needed a shower afterwards!)
As for cats, they are likely to go just as berserk — or just go missing.
Still, if you have the pet at home, what can you do to protect the animal, the house, and other people/pets nearby in an emergency?
Various online websites suggest ideas that I am passing along here. I’d love to hear YOUR story or suggestion.
First and most benign is to try to train your pet to manage his phobia. That can mean setting up a safe and protected place for the pet to get to during the trauma of loud thunder and intense lightning. This could be his crate, a closet, or even the bathtub. Practice having the pet rest there (with a favorite blanket and toy?) on a regular basis when there is no storm or rain; take him there when a storm threatens or the earth shakes. Pets can be trained!
Second, and again this needs practice beforehand, is to give your pet a so-called Thunder Shirt. It’s a jacket that fastens tightly around your pet’s body, applying constant gentle pressure (like swaddling a baby). The Thunder Shirt can be used to lessen separation anxiety, travel stress, fear of loud noises, If you were required to evacuate,a familiar Thunder Shirt sounds like an excellent idea.. Here’s an example: ThunderShirt Polo Dog Anxiety Jacket, Heather Gray, Large
Third, and only if you are confident in your pet and your own instincts (and have checked with your vet), you might consider giving your pet an anti-anxiety drug. Again, your vet can help with a prescription, but a well-regarded over-the-counter brand is Rescue Remedy. It’s a liquid that you add to your pet’s drinking water. My research showed prices at Amazon to be about HALF what they are elsewhere!
Click on the link to check prices – be sure you’re comparing the same size bottles (10 or 20 ml). Bach Rescue Remedy Pet – 20 ml
2 – Emergency rations and stomach upset
When it comes to putting together food for a survival kit, we find that for adults the best are (a) foods you know you will like and (b) foods that don’t need be cooked. Typical favorites: peanut butter, canned and dried fruit, canned tuna.
Do you eat this food all the time? No, but you probably know what to expect and thus would be able to put up with it in an emergency. (Heck, you’d be glad to have it!)
If your pet normally enjoys a particular gourmet brand of wet food, she’s not going to be happy being offered dry kibble in an emergency! She may even refuse to eat it!
And even if she does, you may discover what we all know: a sudden change in food can result in a dramatic change in digestion – and poop.
So, as you pack your pet’s survival kit, be sure to put in her usual fare (along with an appropriate bowl and, if necessary, a can opener). If you have time to prepare for a change of scene, and need to use dried food, introduce the new dried food gradually. Naturally, you want to pack water along with the food.
What experiences have you had with potty breaks or controlling your pet’s poop when she has to stay inside, needs to spend long periods in a carrier, etc.? I have seen a number of gadgets invented to try to catch poop before it falls, but none appears to have been a success! (Have you found one that really works?)
3 – Pets in the dark
While we always tend to think about emergencies in terms of storms, or earthquake, the chances are that a simple power outage is the emergency most likely to hit. Your pet will still need to be walked; to protect him from getting lost or being hit and injured, consider a lighted collar (and leash).
Reflective jackets and collars work fine but only when there is light to be reflected! We’re talking here about a total electrical blackout.
Individual battery-operated LED lights can be attached to a collar, or an LED tube can become a collar all by itself. The lights can be set to blink or shine steadily. Very small animals may not be able to wear all models, but here are several that look very practical and are inexpensive enough to add to a survival kit as well as use on a regular basis for night walks.
Note: The most popular styles come with rechargeable batteries. Remember that in an emergency you may not have electricity to recharge the batteries – so maybe regular batteries would be a better choice!
In any case, measure your pet carefully to be sure you get the right size. Here is an example to get you started:
Flat webbing with led lights embedded : LED Dog Collar – USB Rechargeable – Available in 6 Colors & 6 Sizes – Makes Your Dog Visible, Safe & Seen – Green, X-Small (9 13.7 / 23 35cm)
Other lighted pet collars for small animals look just like a piece of tubing that you cut to size!
This is just the start of an effort to focus more attention on pets in emergencies. Watch for a whole new section of our website, coming soon. In the meanwhile, if you have experiences or ideas regarding pets that you would like to share, please send them along via the comments to this post or by contacting me directly.
Do you have pets at work? I am particularly interested in their stories!
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
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