We had a huge thunderstorm last night here in our corner of the Pacific NW. Like Texas-size huge. Our cats deal with it better than our dog, Saffron. We gave her the valerian-based calming supplement we use (RelaxSaver), put her in her awesome Thundershirt, and draped her in a sheet. I’m always thankful when the weather is bad that Saffron is with us now and not still a feral dog left exposed outside to such scary things.
Sadly, this morning our neighborhood blog is full of notices of lost dogs & cats and one found dog because they ran off during the thunder. Unless they just let their animals roam, most people don’t expect to lose their pets. So, any lost-pet posters you see and any pets you see running loose who clearly have a family belong to someone who didn’t think their pet would get lost—meaning those pets belong to someone like you and me, someone who thought their pets were safe & protected. We can all probably do more to make sure our pets are safe.
Thunder actually factors into the decisions I make about our cats and our dog. (Of course, it isn’t the only thing that informs our decisions.)
Our pets are micro-chipped, and we keep the contact information up-to-date.
Our dog always has a collar with tags on when she’s outside.
We never leave our dog tied up anywhere. Ever. (This is a bad practice at any time, but even worse for a panicked dog since escape or strangulation are quite possible.)
Our cats are indoor cats.
We never walk our dog off-leash in an unfenced area.
Our dog isn’t left in our backyard when we’re not home.
Our yard is has a fence tall enough that our dog can’t get over it. You should realize, though, that a panicked dog can clear extremely tall fences, tear through a fence, squeeze through very small gaps, or quickly dig under a fence.
We keep our gates locked, so they can’t be opened by strangers.
I’ve mentioned before that I seem to be a magnet for lost and stray dogs—so much so, that I now carry an extra leash in the car. Fortunately, all but one of the dogs I’ve found were reunited with their people or were adopted. I still think about the puppy we found when we lived in a studio apartment with 2 cats that we had to take to the city animal shelter. I hope he was adopted by someone who loved him.
I’ll add to that list that because most of the dogs I’ve found have been in my neighborhood, I’ve taken them to our neighborhood vet to have them scanned for a microchip. Your neighborhood vet can be especially helpful if the dog isn’t chipped because they just might recognize the animal and know where it lives. This happened with one of the dogs I found with no tags and no microchip. I’m really lucky because if they have room, our vet will actually hold the animal for a short time. Check with your neighborhood vet—they might be really helpful!
Unless they just let their animals roam, most people don’t expect to lose their pets. So any lost-pet posters you see and any pets you see running loose who clearly have a family, belong to someone who didn’t think their pet would get lost—meaning those pets belong to someone like you and me, someone who thought their pets were safe & protected. Most of us can probably do more to protect our animals, but this is especially important around holidays with fireworks.
The days following the 4th of July in the U.S. are very busy for animal shelters and tons of lost posters go up for cats and dogs. Some shelters even stay open for holiday so people can retrieve their pets that escape.
Most cats seem to respond to fireworks by hiding, but they are still at risk for bolting in a panic. Dogs are also at great risk of escaping, but they may also respond to their fear with destruction or even aggression.
keep your pets inside, DO NOT leave them outside, even if you fear they may damage your home
don’t leave your pets alone
if you have to leave them alone, do not leave them where they can destroy things and possibly escape or harm themselves
DO NOT leave them chain or tied anywhere—it can lead to strangulation if you dog panics
make sure your cats & dogs have on their collar & tags, are micro-chipped & that their info. is current
close all exterior doors, windows, and pet doors
take your dog on a long walk early in the day to help expend some energy
if you have a sensitive dog, keep her on a leash at all times while she’s outside for walks or to potty, even if you’re not near a fireworks show and even if you’re in your yard or neighborhood—panicked dogs can jump over tall fences and burst through gates they normally could not get over or through
if fireworks go off unexpectedly and your dog panics, get her to any enclosed space
consider feeding your dog well before evening—food can help make him sleepy
don’t leave matches/fireworks lying around—it could lead to heavy metal poisoning
don’t set off fireworks with dog around—it could lead to burns and serious injury
don’t leave your dog in a car
if your dog is already crate trained she may feel safest in her crate
allow your pets access to the inner-most room of your house, provide blankets to burrow under, etc.
play music or the radio
remember a terrified cat or dog can behave out of character, don’t push their limits
Catster has a terrific list of easy-to-do things that can help your pets get through an emergency and includes several tips I hadn’t considered. These are three I thought were particularly good.
A Together Tag registers your pet in a national network and allows you to have multiple contacts listed. This means you can have an out-of-state contact in the event that local calls aren’t going through. Microchips are still important, but getting access to someone with a scanner may be impossible after a disaster. The Together Tag is more insurance that you’ll be reunited with your pet.
Scan or photograph the labels of your pet’s medication and upload to a photo-sharing site. Be sure to black out your personal information.
Make detailed Emergency Instruction cards for your pets—include information on medications, food, who you want to have custody of your pet if your’re incapacitated or killed—and put the cards in a prominent place like the back of your front door. Consider one for your wallet, so if something happens to you, emergency responders will know your have animals dependent on you.