Preparing For The Winter Storm: Advice For Pet Owners

Historic snowfalls and blizzard conditions are predicted for several states along the East Coast beginning this evening (January 22). Snow totals in New York are expected up to 10 inches; Philadelphia, up to 18 inches; Baltimore, up to 24 inches; Washington, DC, up to 24 inches and Raleigh, up to four inches. Whether you’r in the path of the storm or whether your area will be missed it is always good to have an emergency weather plan in place. Once a storm is predicted and you head to the grocery stores to stock up, you may find the shelves, and therefore your cupboards, bare.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) urges pet parents to stock up on food, supplies and any medication their pets might need ahead of the storm’s arrival. The ASPCA is also cited as saying, “bring your pets indoors.” This is good advice for any pet owner when the temperatures dip and snow flies. A good rule of thumb is, “if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.”

 Prepare Your Pets for Winter Storms
Here are some other ways a pet owner can prepare their pets for the impending blizzard:

  • Don’t let your pet off leash during a snowstorm or after a snowfall because in the frigid temps and the snow itself your dog could lose its way. Dogs can lose their scent during a storm and can become easily lost.
  • Have a pet emergency kit available; the kit should contain your pet’s medical records, potable water, pet food, their medications and a fully stocked pet first aid supplies. A pet emergency kit is something that a pet owner should have packed and ready for all of their pets – cats, dogs, birds, etc. – at all times.
  • Pack an emergency kit for all family members as well. Have personal hygiene supplies, clothes, medications and other items necessary to your daily living.
  • Your pet should have his or her collar on, or be microchipped. The collar should have a tag on it with your up to date contact information.
  • If you have to evacuate your home you need to have made plans prior to the evacuation for housing your pet. Do you have a place you can go where your pet(s) is welcomed? If you need to go to a shelter that doesn’t allow pets, what will you do with yours? You cannot leave them home alone to fend for themselves. It’s crucial you have this part of your evacuation plan in place prior to any weather emergency or blizzard.
  • If you are stranded at work and cannot get home you need to have made prior arrangements for your pets and their care. Talk with a trusted friend or neighbor and make certain they can devote time to caring for your pets; better yet, see if they can take your pets to their home until you can get back to them.
  • When you bring your dog back in from a walk, wash his paws off with a warm cloth to remove any snow melting materials from his paws.
  • Make certain your car is packed with snow emergency supplies including additional clothing, blankets, shovels, kitty litter to help in case your car gets stuck, snack foods, water and charging cords for your cellphones. Your car should have a full tank of gas.

What else should you do to prepare for the impending blizzard? Here are a few items:

  • Stock your cupboards with foods that can be consumed without cooking – in case the power goes out. Make certain you have bread, milk and other staples that your family consumes regularly. Stock up on bottled water. Have a manual can opener to open your canned goods in case the power goes out.
  • Have additional blankets on hand in the event of a power outage. Huddling under blankets with your two- and four-legged family members will help keep all of you warm until the power comes back on.
  • Flashlights and candles should be readily available. Flashlights should be in working order with batteries already installed. For safety’s sake, don’t burn candles in rooms that you’re not in.
  • Keep a shovel inside your front door. If you remember the snow storm that Buffalo, New York received last year, many homes had seven feet of snow piled up against their front doors and the had no way to shovel themselves out.
  • Using a camp stove or grill during a storm will make cooking hot food easier. Remember, these are not safe for indoor use.
  • Have enough prescription medications to get you through the storm. This holds true for both the humans and the pets in the house.

While this storm may blow past, there is a chance that it may be as powerful as the meteorologists are predicting and as a responsible pet owner you do not want to be caught unprepared. Your pets look to you for care at all times, but especially in emergency situations.