The Humane Society of the United States and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have declared June as National Disaster Preparedness Month. Although we do not want to think about the need to evacuate, we know that the threat of fire is very real.
Along with the bags we are preparing for our own important papers and photographs, we need to prepare a bag for our pets as well.
A duffel bag serves as a great pet "care pack." The proper stocking of this pack ahead of time will ensure less stress for our pets and ourselves if that siren does suddenly sound.
If possible, have a kennel or crate available for each pet. Folding crates are easier to fit into the car. For small animals including cats, a crate is essential. Cats are not good at drastic changes and new surroundings, so having their own home away from home is comforting. Make sure that the pets are accustomed to spending time in these kennels.
Do keep a collar on your dog at all times with his license, rabies and identification tags.
Items to include in this pet "care pack" include the following:
- ood, water and dishes. Have a food dish for each pet and a water dish. Dishes which stack together and are unbreakable, such as stainless steel, are best. Small pets to be kept in kennels or cages each need their own small water bowl. Pack a few day's supply of food into a resealable plastic bag. It is not good to change a pet's diet suddenly, especially in times of stress. Also have a few gallons of water ready to go as a sudden water change can cause stomach upset. Do replace this food and water every couple of weeks with a fresh supply.
- edical records. Have an envelope marked "medical records and essential information" and make copies of all medical records including vaccinations, medications, dosages and prescriptions. Note any special precautions such as allergies, medical or behavior conditions. Make sure that the name, address and phone number of the veterinarian are clear. Have a picture of each pet with his name in this envelope plus your name, address and phone. It is good also to include the name of a relative or friend in another area who could care for the pet.
- Leashes and tie-outs. It might be necessary to tie the dog so be sure to have both a long rope or tie-out and a short leash for walks. If the dog is a chewer, a cable is safest. For non-chewers, snaps and nylon cord can be purchased at hardware stores and you can make the tie-out any length you want.
- irst aid kit. Include bandaging material, antibiotic ointment and a cleansing agent such as hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Cotton balls, gauze pads and cotton swabs come in handy also. Part of a clean sheet or large dishtowel takes up very little space and can serve many needs. These items plus a pair of scissors, tape and tweezers should be in a small bag inside the duffel bag.
- soft, cuddly toy and small blanket for each pet. Your pet may need to spend time away from you and something familiar from home will be comforting. Include a bone or other chew toy.
Hopefully, the summer will pass and this pet "care pack" will not have been needed. However, we will certainly feel better knowing that we were prepared.
For more information about disaster preparedness for your pets, write to Disaster Services, The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St. N.W., Washington, DC 20037 or visit www.hsus.org.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by snail-mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.
A word about shaving ...
In the column for May 27 concerning hot weather protection for your pet, I said it is not good to shave a long-haired dog. The local groomers took exception to what I said and, after talking with them, I appreciate their concerns.
Clipping the coat shorter during hot weather is a matter of personal preference. However, it is extremely important to get rid of all the dead undercoat and excess hair and any matting. Often, there is no choice but to shave the coat.
According to Terry at Furry Friends, groomers find a variety of things lodged under a long coat, including fish hooks, fox tails, ear infections and even tumors.
Lori at A Shaggy Dog's Place Too has found open sores and a good supply of woodticks when shaving a dog.
Rosemary at The Critter Clipper emphasized that their first priority is the health and safety of the pets in their care.
The alternative to shaving the coat is to remove all the dead hair and matting which permits air circulation through the coat and allows the skin to breathe. Whether you take your dog to a groomer for a shave down or a deep cleaning or if you tackle the job yourself, a thorough, deep, spring coat cleaning and brushing is essential. Naturally, it is best to keep your pet well groomed all year-round.
My apologies to all groomers for this misunderstanding.
-- Christy Wrather