A Pet Parent’s Guide to Hurricane Preparedness


Hurricane season can be a scary time for pet owners. The threat of a major storm can leave pet owners worried about the safety and wellbeing of their beloved animals. In order to ensure the safety of pets during a hurricane, it is important to have a plan in place. Read on to learn the key steps that pet owners can take to prepare for a hurricane.

Hurricane season in Florida begins June 1 and lasts through November.

First and foremost, pet owners should ensure that their pets have identification. A collar with an identification tag that includes the pet’s name and owner’s current contact information is a must for all pets, even those that live strictly indoors. Snowbirds take note: Have a temporary tag with your current address and contact information when travelling.

We strongly recommend that all pets have a microchip, as well, and ensure that your pet’s microchip is registered to you with your current contact information. To check your registration info, go directly to your microchip company’s website. If you don’t know the company name, you can obtain your pet’s microchip number from your vet and search for it here. The likelihood of a pet being reunited with their owner dramatically increases if the pet is microchipped.

Microchipped pets are up to 20 times more likely to be reunited with their owners.

In addition to identification, pet owners should have an emergency kit prepared for their pets. This kit should include:

  • Food and water for at least a week.
  • Any necessary medications. If your pet requires medication for anxiety during storms, be sure to have your prescription filled well in advance.
  • Medical and vaccine records. Ensure that your pet is current on vaccinations. This will help protect them from diseases that may be present in shelters or other areas where people and animals are displaced. 
  • A sturdy carrier or crate for each pet, as well as bedding, litter, and cleaning supplies.
  • A current photo of each pet in case you are separated from you pets and must provide identification to rescuers.
Make sure that your pet is current on vaccines and keep a copy of their medical and vaccine records handy.

Make a plan for where you will take your pets during a hurricane. Never leave your pet behind, as dangerous conditions may prevent your return for days or even longer. Know your zone so you are aware if you are required to evacuate. Some shelters may allow pets, but not all do. It is important to research ahead of time to find pet-friendly shelters in the area and have your pet’s vaccine records printed and easily accessible.

Alternatively, pet owners can make arrangements to stay with friends or family members who are willing to take in their pets during the storm or find a pet-friendly hotel along the evacuation route. Print out a map of shelters and contact information and have a plan for transportation, as roads may be closed or flooded during a hurricane. 

Not all hotels and shelters will accept pets. Know where to go if you must evacuate.

Finally, take steps to prepare your home for the storm. This may include securing any loose objects that could become projectiles during high winds, as well as reinforcing windows and doors. Pet owners should also have a designated safe area in their home where they can stay with their pets during the storm. Pro tip: A small, plastic kid’s pool lined with grass sod can be used as an indoor bathroom for dogs during a storm.

Start planning now. Don’t wait for another storm to hit to figure out your plan for hurricane season. Contact SPCA Tampa Bay at 727-586-3591 or spcatampabay.org for additional help and links to organizations to assist you in figuring out the best plan for your family.

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