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Natural Disaster Planning for Pets

As pets have become a more important part of our family units, so has their safety and wellbeing. Yet, few of us are prepared for the event of a natural disaster. In order to make things a little easier, we’ve put together a few simple tips on how to protect your pets should your area be struck by a  hurricane, tornadoflood, or fire.

One important thing to note is that in all of these disaster scenarios it is safer to evacuate with your family and pets. However, keep in mind that boarding facilities, kennels, and animal shelters require that your pets have all their vaccinations up to date, or you might be turned away. Also, many emergency shelters do NOT accept pets for health and safety reasons, so pet-friendly shelters will fill up fast. 

Hurricanes

 

Although hurricanes have seasons (Jun.1-Nov.30 in the Atlantic and May15-Nov.30 in the Eastern Pacific), weather experts still have trouble predicting just how many storms regions will get each year and what their paths will be. Here’s what you can do:

Hurricane Preparation

  • Designate a hurricane-safe location that will accommodate your entire family, including pets. A windowless room nearest to the ground floor is recommended.
  • If you live in an area affected by hurricanes, get in the habit of doing “drills” with your family and pets during the off season to ensure they will all know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit and keep enough crates to hold each pet in the event of a storm in the designated area for each pet. Panic can give rise to out of the ordinary behaviors in pets and fast confinement will be required.
  • If you can evacuate, don’t leave your pets behind. Take proper pet identification and emergency kits for your pets as well as your family.

During a Hurricane

  • If your family is weathering the storm inside the home, make it to your “safe room” and crate your pet as soon as possible. If you can, place the crates under heavy, durable furniture.

After a Hurricane

  • Always be extra careful when going outdoors following a hurricane. Only exit the home after you and your family are certain the storm has passed.
  • Keep your pets secured at all times. Cats should remain in their carriers, and dogs on a leash.
  • Don’t allow your pets to go near water or other liquids on the ground; debris from the hurricane may have contaminated the area or live power lines may be laying in the water.
  • Keep everyone (including yourself) away from downed power lines.

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Tornadoes

Occurring at a moment’s notice, tornadoes can sweep through a neighborhood indiscriminately and wreak havoc in a short period. Here’s what you can do:

Tornado Preparation

  • Designate a tornado-safe location that will accommodate your entire family, including pets. A windowless room nearest to the ground floor is recommended.
  • If you live in an area affected by tornadoes, get in the habit of doing “drills” with your family and pets during mild weather to ensure they will all know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Stock your tornado-safe area with a pet emergency kit and keep crates in the designated area for each of your pets. Panic can give rise to out of the ordinary behaviors in pets and fast confinement will be required. 
  • Know where your pets’ hiding spots are, so you can grab them and take them to safety as quickly as possible. Limit their access to any unsafe spots it may be hard to get them out of.
  • If you can evacuate, don’t leave your pets behind. Take proper pet identification and emergency kits for your pets as well as for your family.

During a Tornado

  • If your family is weathering the storm inside the home, make it to your “safe room” and crate your pet as soon as possible. If you can, place the crates under heavy, durable furniture.

After a Tornado

  • Always be extra careful when going outdoors following a tornado. Only exit the home after you and your family are certain the storm has passed.
  • Keep your pets secured at all times. Cats should remain in their carriers, and dogs on a leash.
  • Don’t allow your pets to go near water or other liquids on the ground outside; debris from the tornado may have contaminated the area or live power lines may be laying in the water.
  • Keep everyone (including yourself) away from downed power lines.

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Floods

 

Flood conditions can also encroach rapidly and sometimes without much notice. Here’s what you can do:

Flood Preparation

  • If you live in an area affected by floods, get in the habit of doing “drills” with your family and pets to ensure they will all know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Know where your pets’ hiding spots are, so you can grab them and take them to safety as quickly as possible. Limit their access to any unsafe spots it may be hard to get your pets out of.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit and, if you can, evacuate with your pets.

During a Flood

  • If your family gets stuck in your home during a flood, move to the upper floors or into your attic. During sever flooding, such as what occurred in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, move onto your roof until help can arrive.
  • Keep your pets either on a leash or in a crate so that they do not run away in a panic.

After a Flood

  • Stay indoors until after the water has receded.
  • Don’t allow your pets to go near water or other liquids on the ground; in addition to debris and live power lines, the water may be contaminated with infectious diseases and parasites.
  • Keep everyone (including yourself) away from downed power lines.

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Fires

Wildfires can begin quickly and spread rapidly, especially during the driest seasons. Here’s what you can do:

Fire Preparation

  • If you live in an area affected by fires, get in the habit of doing “drills” with your family and pets to ensure they will all know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Know where your pets’ hiding spots are so you can grab them and take them to safety as quickly as possible. Limit their access to any unsafe spots it may be hard to get your pets out of.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit and have a crate available so that you can evacuate with your pets as quickly as possible.

During a Fire

  • Wildfires move quickly but will often give you enough time to evacuate. Household items can be replaced, family and pets cannot.

After a Fire

  • Upon returning to your home be aware that wildfires may leave surrounding structures unstable and dangerous for wandering pets. Also, wild animals from the surrounding area may have been pushed into more residential areas, which pose a danger to your family and pets.
  • Keep your pets on a leash or in a crate.

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In an emergency situation, your family pets will need you more than ever. Take charge and be prepared. Here are some other great emergency preparation resources:

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Grape and Raisin Poisoning in Dogs

 

Can Dogs Eat Grapes?

Grape and raisin (dried grapes) toxicity is well documented in dogs.* Although the exact substance that causes the toxic reaction is not yet known, dogs should not eat grapes and raisins because even small amounts can prove to be fatally toxic for a dog.

Dogs of any age, breed, or gender may be affected. Grapes and raisins are bad for dogs because one of the most serious complications of grape/raisin toxicity is they can cause severe kidney damage leading to acute (sudden) kidney failure with lack of urine production (anuria). However, kidney failure is not seen in all dogs after ingestion of grapes or raisins, and again, the reason why some dogs are affected excessively, while others are not, is still being studied. 

Symptoms and Types

Grape and raisin poisoning will usually cause dogs to develop some combination of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea – often within a few hours of ingestion. Vomit and fecal contents material may contain pieces of grapes or raisin.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy, weakness, unusual quietness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Oliguria (passing only a small amount of urine)
  • Anuria (complete cessation of urine)
  • Foul breath
  • Oral ulcers
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

 

Causes

Grape and/or raisin ingestion – even small amounts can be toxic for some dogs while other dogs can ingest relatively large amounts without developing obvious symptoms. The toxic agent has not yet been identified but appears to be associated with the flesh of the fruit. In other words, peeled and/or seedless grapes are still toxic.

Immediate Treatment

This is an emergency, needing immediate treatment. If you are positive that your dog ingested grapes or raisins within the last two hours, you will need to induce vomiting as soon as possible, before all the toxins in the fruit can be absorbed.

However, do not induce vomiting if your dog is:

  • Unconscious
  • Is having trouble breathing
  • Is exhibiting signs of serious distress or shock
  • Or if you are unsure of what your dog may have eaten. 

If your dog has already vomited, do not try to force more vomiting. Call your veterinarian for advice. If he or she recommends that you induce vomiting at home, use the following method:

  • If the dog has not eaten within the last two hours, offer him a small meal. This makes it more likely that the dog will vomit but is not essential if the dog is uninterested in food. 
  • Measure 1 milliliter (ml) of 3% hydrogen peroxide per pound of the dog’s weight, using either a syringe (no needle) or teaspoon (one teaspoon is approximately five ml). The maximum amount of hydrogen peroxide to be given at any one time is 45 ml, even if a dog weighs over 45 pounds. 
  • Squirt the hydrogen peroxide into the back of the dog’s mouth using a syringe (no needle) or turkey baster.
  • If vomiting does not take place within fifteen minutes of the first administration, you may try again, using the same amount. This method should not be used more than two times, spaced apart at fifteen minute intervals.

If your dog has not vomited after the second dose of hydrogen peroxide, do not use it, or anything further, to try to induce vomiting. Do not use anything stronger than hydrogen peroxide without first talking to your veterinarian. 

Whether your dog vomits or not, after the initial care, you must rush him to a veterinary facility immediately. Your veterinarian may need to perform a gastric lavage and/or administer activated charcoal to deal with any toxin that remains in your dog’s stomach, as well as institute treatment to protect your dog’s kidneys.

prognosis

The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance

renal failure

The failure of the kidneys to perform their proper functions

urinalysis

An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

lavage

Irritating tissue with a great deal of some type of fluid

gastric

Anything having to do with the stomach

anuria

The lack of production of urine in an animal’s body.

euthanasia

Inducing death on an animal or putting them to sleep

acute

Term used to imply that a situation or condition is more severe than usual; also used to refer to a disease having run a short course or come on suddenly.