During a hurricane or severe storm, pets are usually at risk such as injury from debris or injury to broken limbs, but they are also exposed to other life-threatening hazards that can affect after the passage of the storm.
Although the best course of action is to have your dog examined by the nearest veterinarian, this may not be possible in an emergency, especially when clinics are already dealing with the many displaced dogs the storm has brought. left behind.
But there are ways to help your dog yourself until you have the chance to have him checked out by a veterinarian. Newsweek has gathered expert advice on how to help dogs in the aftermath of a hurricane or similar disasters.
How to help your dog after a hurricane
Dr. Christian Broadhurst, senior veterinarian at the Clay County Humane Society, said Newsweek that the most common post-hurricane injuries are usually associated with dogs walking on broken glass, sharp metal, broken branches, and any other type of debris, and on the spot, you can provide the dog with first aid.
According to Broadhurst, this involves cleaning their wound, making sure there is no litter, grass or dirt, and you can use tap water for this.
“And then once it’s clean,” he added, “definitely put a light bandage or wrap over it, nothing too tight because you definitely don’t want to cut off circulation, and if it’s acts from a shallow abrasion, Polysporin topical antibiotics, or something along those lines is a good general disinfectant.”
Infections caused by toxic water
According to Dogster, during storms, floodwaters end up mixing with septic and sewer waste, garbage, chemicals and debris, among other things, forming a stagnant, toxic stew, and when a dog walks in contact with this water, it risks being contaminated. .
Owners should decontaminate their pets from floodwater residue as soon as possible after a natural disaster, and they can do this by using common products like dish soap to clean chemicals from fur and skin. of the dog.
These pools of stagnant toxic stew are fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies and other flying insects, which can infect your dog with can infect a dog with vector-borne diseases are bite-borne infections.
Mosquitoes are a problem during the rainy season, and if your dog doesn’t get regular protection from parasites, he’s at a greater risk of contracting diseases like West Nile virus and heartworm.
These types of infections can be fatal to dogs, so it’s important for owners to keep their pet’s vaccinations up to date and get a veterinary checkup when possible.
What to do if you found a lost dog after a hurricane
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the Category 4 cyclone that hit Florida’s Gulf Coast killing at least 85 people, many pets were found displaced after being abandoned by their families as they escaped to the catastrophic force of the hurricane.
Greater Good Charities, which were on the ground in the most severely affected areas, airlifted 90 pets from shelters in Florida to new adoptive homes in the northeast.
Liz Baker, CEO of Greater Good Charities, said: “The transport was very successful. Greater Good Charities has provided much-needed space and assistance to shelters and shelter staff who are currently struggling, without electricity, understaffed and overcapacity.
“Flying these pets northeast moves healthy, adoptable animals to areas that have more adopters and makes room for the influx of homeless and lost animals that shelters are now seeing.”
If you find yourself in an affected area and come across a lost or injured dog, there are ways to help them, but first you need to make sure you are safe because you don’t want to hurt yourself badly and take space. in local hospitals.
Take the dog to a shelter
According to Dr. Broadhurst, if you find a lost dog, you should take him to a shelter or clinic where he can get the help he needs, but if he can’t take the animal, you can also just take a photo with your mobile phone. indicating the exact location, and the volunteers will pick up the dog on the next rescue mission.
If you have a car and can take the dog to the shelter or clinic, you must first make sure you are safe around the animal.
Dr Broadhurst suggests: “My personal rule of thumb is to open the car door and say ‘come here boy’ and if the dog jumps take him wherever you can because that dog doesn’t obviously doesn’t belong there, he’s used to car rides, is friendly with people, and there’s nothing wrong with going with strangers and you can take him to a shelter or a clinic. “
If the dog won’t jump in the car but isn’t sure whether to leave it where it is, you can try bribing it with food.
“If you have something, if he looks nervous like he’s going to come at you but you’re not 100% sure, break a chicken nugget or something. Dogs like that They can be very, very scared of not knowing what’s going on, and food is usually one of the quickest ways to get to their hearts and their confidence.”
Take the dog home (temporarily)
When natural disasters happen, charities usually fill up quickly and volunteers may not be able to help more animals than they already are, so if you are able to help a dog and you are in this state, then you should go. , even if it means keeping the animal for a while.
Dr Broadhurst says that if you have the option of taking an animal into your home for a short time or even a few weeks, depending on the severity of the damage in your area, it will go a long way to easing the pressures. at a large number of local shelters and clinics.
“If you rescue a dog and you can take it home, rest assured that its owners will eventually find it, and if you can be the person who helped reunite that dog with its owner, just putting yourself a little bit and keeping the dog at home is a wonderful thing to do!” he said.
How you can help with Hurricane Ian from afar
If you’re not there physically, you can still help by funding local volunteers and charities, who will need funds for everything from medicine to trips to bring back pets.
The most important help you can give, according to Broadhurst, is financial support, by reaching out to nonprofit organizations like the Humane Society of the United States or the ASPCA.
“There are several organizations that specifically provide relief for emergencies, particularly once a state of emergency has been declared. If you are unable to do so, you can certainly turn to other local organizations to donate money.”
How to find your dog after a hurricane
If you lost track of your pet during the hurricane and still haven’t found it, don’t despair, there are a few places you can check and things you can do to get your pooch back.
You should check local shelters first as this is where your dog is most likely to be as this is where volunteers keep him safe after rescuing him. You should also check local veterinary practices because if your dog has been seriously injured, the volunteers may have taken him in for treatment.
If you still can’t find your dog, it’s time to use the web. First you need to create an identity kit for your cat, as detailed as possible, and advertise it on social media platforms, asking your friends and family to share it.
Once you’ve found your dog, consider that he’s just been through a pretty traumatic event and you don’t know how he might react. You should not approach them directly or call them if they are on the run outside and do not make direct eye contact as it can be scary for them at the time.
The best thing to do in this case is to simply sit or lie down on the floor, indicating a secure and submissive posture. It’s also a good idea to bring some of your dog’s favorite treats and toys with you, encouraging him to approach you and feel safe.
How to prepare for hurricanes when you have a dog
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you might want to consider preparing your dog for the possibility of another hurricane before it happens.
The first thing to do is to have your dog microchipped, that way he can easily be returned to you in case he gets lost in a disaster. Your dog must also wear a collar and identification tags that include your contact information.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) also advises doing hurricane-related preventative care for your dog. Since hurricanes bring heavy rains and flooding, which can lead to increased prevalence of diseases such as heartworm and leptospirosis, you should keep your vaccinations and antiparasitic medications up to date.
You can also prepare an emergency escape plan for your dog, and your kit should include all the essentials your pup will need to weather the storm, such as food and water, leash, toys and treats, and any medicine, among other things.
How to Keep Your Dog Calm During a Storm and Hurricane
Due to their survival instinct, dogs are afraid of loud noises and whenever there is a storm they tend to get very nervous. According to the American Kennel Club, in this case, the best thing you can do for your dog is to let him go to his “safe space”, avoiding punishment for his behavior during thunderstorms, including destruction and the moans.
Providing background noise, like white noise, helps distract your dog from the storm, and to keep him entertained, you can also bribe him with treats and chew toys. Calming treats, CBD oil, kibble or anti-anxiety vests are also helpful.
You can also prepare your home for the event in advance, by installing storm windows to block out the storm or even just pulling the blinds, which will block out flashing lights as well as some of the sounds of the storm. .
It is also very important for dog owners to remain calm during the storm. Because dogs recognize many of their owner’s emotions and respond to them if their owner is stressed, a dog is very likely to be stressed too.