Weathering Storms with your Pets
Having grown up on the East Coast, I love a snow day. I have many great memories of playing with my dogs in the snow. Rain, nor'easters, tropical storms, and hurricanes, not so much.
If rainy weather makes your pet anxious, now is the time to talk to your veterinarian about calming medications. There are many non-prescription, over-the-counter options. Your veterinarian may even have samples for you to try. If your pet is already on medication, make sure you have enough to weather a storm and the weeks afterwards.
Behavior modification exercises may help your pet make a positive association with rain, wind, and storms. However, this should be practiced well before the storm. During the storm, if your pet isn't too afraid to eat, pair noises from wind, rain, and thunder with fabulous real meat and cheese treats. Stuffed food puzzles may do the trick! If your pet prefers play to food, play with your pet to encourage a positive association with the storm.
If your pet feels safer in a basement, bathroom, or snuggled under the covers with you, by all means, give them access to these areas.
Make sure your pet is wearing identification and your contact information. One side of our cat's tag says “indoor cat”. Update any microchip information with your current phone number and address.
If you are not on comfort duty because your pet isn't scared, you are probably on camp counselor duty. Once you tire them out, you can get back to vegging out on the sofa. Here are some indoor activities to keep your pets busy:
Play hide and seek. Great recall practice!
Play tag. Ask your pet to touch a stick or your hand with her nose.
Play red light green light. Call your pet (green light), cue them to sit or lay down (red light), then call them again (green light).
Pillow fort. How quickly will your pet go into a crate or carrier with distractions? This behavior is useful during an evacuation.
Practice voluntary veterinary behaviors such as lying down flat on one side, resting his chin in your hand, keeping his shoulder against your leg, and wearing a muzzle. Muzzle training is important in case you need to evacuate and a non-pet friendly facility will accept a pet wearing a muzzle.
Our friends at Avidog wrote a wonderful post about how to evacuate your dogs during an emergency. https://www.avidog.com/canine-evacuation-kit/
May you, your human and pet loved ones, along with your homes weather these storms unscathed. Please let us know what you did with your pets during the storm!