With the second named storm of the season passing through town last week, we are again reminded that hurricane season is upon us.
It is easy to become complacent with no major storm requiring massive evacuations since Floyd in 1999 and no actual direct hit since Hugo in 1989.
We hate to say it, but we all know that another storm will some day pass through the Lowcountry and it is best to be prepared in advance.
Pets are a part of the family that cannot just be left behind. Preparations must be made for their evacuation and survival after the storm just as they must for the human members.
We recommend creating an evacuation box for your pets with some key items ready in case you need to evacuate or survive at home after the storm. This will not only make it easy to grab and throw in the car but will also keep everything dry.
Food. Make sure you have enough food for each pet to last one week. Canned food stores well but is a lot heavier than dry food. Also, if you plan on taking cans, throw in a can opener. If taking dry food, bring an unopened bag or seal the food in zip-top bags.
Water. We recommend two emergency water supplies. One that stays home and is enough to meet your pets' needs for a week. This is for when you return home and there may not be accessible water for a while. The second supply is three days' worth to take with you when you evacuate. An ounce for every pound of body weight per day is a good estimate to determine how much water you should save.
Medications. If your pet takes regular medications for a health problem, have at least one week's worth ready to take with you. This would be common for dogs with heart disease or seizure episodes. Also make sure you do not let prescription drugs run low. Have refills called in at least a week before the medication runs out. Your veterinarian will probably evacuate too and not be available to call a pharmacy or refill medications at their hospital.
Identification. We stress that every pet should always have some identification. Even with the best plans, you and your pet may be separated during the storm. The Pet Docs feel every pet should have a microchip. This tiny device is inserted under the skin with a needle and stores information that can be accessed easily with a scanning device. Most veterinary clinics and shelters have these scanners. Tags are great too as they do not require a scanner, but they can get lost.
Carriers/leashes. For cats, be sure you have carriers to transport them in and for them to stay in at the hotel. If you have more than one cat, make sure they will be compatible with each other in a confined space. This is not something you want to find out while driving up Interstate 26. Have a leash for every dog.
Outside the boxPlace to stay. While you can't put this in a box, you should plan in advance where you plan to evacuate to. Many hotels do not allow pets, so call around now and find those in Columbia or the Upstate that do. If you plan to stay with a relative, make sure they are OK with you showing up with your cats, dogs and iguana. Just because you love your pets does not mean everyone else will.
Car ride. Be prepared for a lot of time together in the car. Make sure cats have access to litter every three to four hours. Dogs should be walked about every three to four hours as well. It is a good idea to plan now where everyone will be situated in your vehicle. Some animals do not travel well and might need sedation. Be sure to get this from your vet now.
Hurricane season is here and some day we will get hit again. Decrease your and your pets' stress by having everything ready.
Dr. Henri Bianucci and Dr. Perry Jameson are with Veterinary Specialty Care LLC. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.