What Pet Parents Need to Know to Prepare for Extreme Weather

Weather extremes can turn your life upside down, and our area certainly isn’t a stranger to severe weather. In fact, the Lake Elmo area is 75% more likely to see tornadoes than other cities in the U.S.!  As a pet parent, preparation takes a bit more effort, but protecting our precious pets is worth the time, energy, and small investment in emergency supplies.
 
Lake Elmo doesn’t just get tornadoes. Other weather events we should all brace for include blizzards, hail, thunderstorms, and winter storms. And once the storm passes, it's important to remember the side effects of these violent events have a lasting impact.  Are you ready for flooding and power outages? How about relocation if necessary?
 
Before you find yourself in a risky situation, make sure you’re prepared to care for your pet when the weather strikes.
 

What Pet Parents Can Do to Prepare for Extreme Weather

 
There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it: preparation saves lives. This means examining your particular circumstances like your home’s shutters, power backup, and pets’ needs to determine what’s best for your household. We’ve put together a thorough list to help you decide what you need to do to prepare your pets before storms strike.
 

Make a Pet-Friendly Plan

 
Make a plan for the entire family, including your furry family members. Write this plan down, and practice it with the kids and the pets to make sure everyone is prepared for if a disaster happens. Your goal should be that the actions you and your family take are second-nature and the automatic response if the power goes out or you get snowed in.
 
If you plan on leaving, you will need a plan for your pet. Leaving your pet behind should be a last and very temporary option. This means you need to research shelters and pet-friendly hotels, now. Many AirBnB and other short-term rentals allow pets. If you can stay with friends and family, this is usually the best option.
 
Know where to call or look if your pet goes missing. This means both her safe places and the local animal rescues and shelters.  Make sure your pet's microchip is up to date (see info below). Also, make sure your pet has a collar and tags, and get a light colored collar and write your name and cell phone number in permanent pen on both the inside and outside of the collar.  Tags can come loose, but collars usually stay on and this secondary means of identification can help reunite you with your pet.  The ink on the outside may fade, but the ink on the inside will last longer - all of which can help you get your pet back as soon as possible.
 
Work through different scenarios, following a what-if mindset. 
 
Check trees around your home, now, before the winds start up. Tree trimming can save your home, vehicle, and your life.
 

 Tornado Tips for Pet Parents

 
Keep your pets inside. Birds, cats, rabbits, and all other pets are safest within the protection of four walls and a roof.
Practice bringing your pets with you into your tornado safety area within your home.  Make one person in the house responsible for bringing the pet, another for food and water dishes, someone for the pet’s bed, etc.  Make sure you have everything you and your pet need so you don’t have to venture out until it is safe.  
 

Power Outages and Pets

 
If you own a reptile or fish, make accommodations to keep her warm and oxygenated if the power goes out.  Battery backups - and extra batteries - are very important to keep on hand in this case.  
 

 Keep Your Pets’ Microchip and ID Tags Up-to-Date

 
 When emergencies strike, pets tend to go missing. The shock of lightning, trees and limbs crashing down, and high winds can engage a pet’s natural ‘flee-to-safety’ instinct. This is why so many shelters fill with lost and scared animals after natural disasters.
 
Make sure your pets’ microchips have your most recent phone number and address just in case your cat sneaks out of the house or your dog squeezes under the fence, and they have tags and a collar as suggested above.
 

 Prepare Emergency Supplies for You and Your Pet

 

 A First-Aid Kit is Always a Good Idea

 
 Adapting your first-aid kit to be pet-ready is simple. And if you don’t have a first-aid kit of your own, use this time to make one.
 
You can order a pre-made one online or make your own. Just be sure you have
 
  • Ice packs
  • Gauze
  • Tape
  • Cotton balls
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Gloves
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Bandaids
  • Bandage wrap
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • A syringe (this comes in handy for washing wounds and administering medicine)
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Styptic powder
  • Muzzle
  • Blanket or towel to wrap your pet in if you need to tend to injuries
  • Treats to distract a stressed or injured pet
 

 Keep In a Safe Place

 
  • Your pets’ veterinary records
  • Prescriptions and medications
  • Our contact information (on a business card or written down)
  • Printed pictures of your pets
  • A crate or carrier
  • A trusted neighbor’s contact information
  • Poison control phone number 
  • A water treatment kit
 

 Stock Up On

 
  • Non-perishable food and treats
  • Leashes and a muzzle
  • Toys
  • Bedding
  • Silver emergency blankets
  • Water
  • Litter
  • Paper towels
  • Towels
  • Trash bags
  • Bleach
  • Candles
  • Sterno
  • Soap and dish soap
  • Plastic poop bags
  • Puppy pee pads to give your pet a place to go to the bathroom
 
You can keep all of these supplies in an inexpensive tool box or 5 gallon bucket from a home improvement store.  This way you can just grab it and take it to the safe zone in your home, or into your vehicle if you are evacuating.  Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.  
 
Make sure you have enough of your pet’s prescription well before a storm hits, just in case the roads are impassable or communication lines are down.  
 

Stay Safe, Lake Elmo

 
When it comes to weather, you never know exactly what to expect, but by preparing, you will know how to react. These simple steps can possibly help save your pet’s life. If you need to stock up on your pet’s prescription food or need to refill her prescription, please give us a call. 
 
 
Image credit: Houskey Hou | Pexels

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species
651-487-3255

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128
651-501-3766

 

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)
651-293-1800