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August 27, 2012

Tornadoes: Keeping Pets Safe

Make your disaster plan today

  • Make your disaster plan today, and you'll find it much easier to keep every member of your family safe when a tornado strikes. iStockphoto.com

If you live in a part of the country where tornadoes strike, you can increase the chances that your pets will survive a storm by following a few simple steps.

1. Bring your pets inside. If it's not safe for you outside, it's not safe for them.
 

2. Keep emergency pet supplies in a tornado-proof room or cellar.
 

(The supplies should be easy to find and transport, in case you need to evacuate.) Include the basics:

  • Adequate supply of food, water, and treats
  • Sanitation items such as a litter box and litter or puppy pads
  • A crate to provide a secure place in which to weather the storm

3. Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identificaton that is up to date and visible at all times.
 

Increase your chances of being reunited with a lost pet by having him or her microchipped.

4. Practice getting your pets into the tornado-safe area.
 

  • Do your best to train your dog to go to the area on command or to come to you on command even when there are distractions.
  • Learn how to quickly and safely secure your pets.
  • Find your pets' favorite hiding places and learn how to safely remove your pets from them.

5. Make your tornado-safe area animal friendly.
 

  • Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.
  • Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.

6. If you have to evacuate, to take your pets and their emergency supplies with you.
 

 7. Take special care of your pets after the tornado has passed.

Your home may be a very different place after a disaster, which can be very distressing for your pets.

  • Don't allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
  • While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and keep cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, they could escape and become lost.
  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible, and be ready for behavioral problems that may result from the stress of the situation. If behavioral problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
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