Tornado season has arrived. Gusting winds, booming thunder, flashes of lightening, and power outages can really freak out your pets. Getting your family and your pets into the basement quickly if necessary can be difficult. Preparing ahead and some simple tips could make the experience a bit less terrifying for everyone.
It’s nice to have a reserve of water, non-perishable foods or snacks, back up batteries, extra flashlight and weather radio already stored in a safe, dry location in the basement. For your pet, an extra bowl, blanket or bed and some treats would be much appreciated as well. A potty pad, clean-up supplies and for the felines, an extra litter box ready down there are good ideas.
Some pets are not used to going down the basement. In advance, you could train them to like going down the stairs using positive reinforcement with treats. It will be easier to get a scared dog into the basement if he is wearing his collar or harness and a leash. Of course, small dogs can be carried down, but when nervous, they may be very squirmy or even bite. Swaddling them in a thick towel or comforter can help. These items are usually easy to grab. Just like bundling a baby, this can be very soothing to your dog or cat.
Another safe and quick way to confine a frantic kitty is in a pillow case. You can scoop up several cats into individual pillow cases rapidly. Bind the top with a knot or rubber band temporarily. They can breathe through the pillow case. This may be easier and less scary for them than a cat carrier. This method comes in handy if you need to get out of your home due to a fire or even for catching your cat and transferring to a carrier for a trip to the vet.
Should a calamity occur that causes destruction, and you to be separated from your pet, it will give you peace of mind to know that your pet is wearing some identification so that she may be returned to you.
Your dog should always wear an ID tag with your contact information. Collars can be hazardous for cats, because they climb and could get caught and choke. There are quick release collars for cats, but these come off so easily that they are often lost. It is wise to microchip all cats and dogs. In the event your pet is taken to a humane society, veterinary clinic or even some police stations, he should be scanned to check for the microchip. Many pets have been reunited with their guardians due to this system. Even newer options include a GPS type of tracking system.
Not only is it important to prepare to save your pets’ lives, but in the basement, they will be a huge comfort to you and the rest of your family!
Jodie Gruenstern,DVM,CVA is a UW-Madison graduate and has been practicing veterinary medicine in Muskego, Wisconsin since 1987. She is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and food therapist by the Chi Institute. Dr. Jodie is the owner of the Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex, an integrated small animal practice. She has been an advocate for natural pet care through writing, speaking, radio, television and the manufacturing of unique products. Dr. Jodie is founder of the non-profit iPAW: Integrating People for Animal Wellness.