Monday, August 4, 2014

Pet Safety Month: Animals in Disasters: Part 3: After the Emergency


photo by Stan Carroll
In honor of Pet Safety Month, here are some suggestions to help you weather an emergency with your pet.

3) AFTER THE EMERGENCY

A snake takes refuge during a flood
Depending on the level of damage to your area, your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.

  •  Keep your pets confined indoors or out with leashes only. Depending on the type of emergency, familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet could be disoriented. If pets are allowed to roam loose during this period, they could easily get lost.
  • Keep cats in carriers inside the house, until you have finished assessing the damage. If there are broken windows or loose doors, your pet could escape your home.
  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Most pets thrive on routine, so try to return to a normal daily schedule as soon as possible. High levels of stress can cause behavior problems. Do your cats tend to fight after one cat visits the veterinarian? Cats especially depend on scent to identify familiar people and animals as well as places. Your cats may not get along after the disaster for the period of time that it takes to re-establish the "family scent". In some cases, a traumatic event can cause two cats that get along very well to completely disassociate with each other. Prepare for the fact that your terrified cats may be too stressed to be re-introduced right away, and let them re-acclimate to each other gradually. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian. 
  • If there has been a flood, make sure to check your house and yard for wild animals that may have taken refuge there. Stressed, displaced and injured wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet.