by Margo Waldrop

For many people, our pets are family. We understand that their lifespans are shorter than ours, but it is still devastating when we lose a furry family member. When severe storms threaten, our first instinct is to protect ourselves and our children, and rightly so. However, there are many things we can do to make sure that our pets stay safe as well. Follow these three important tips to ensure that your beloved pets survive the storm:

  1. Animals get scared! – Thunderstorms bring a lot of noise and this tends to scare pets, especially dogs. If they are indoor dogs, they are fairly safe and will usually hide beneath a bed or take shelter in your arms. However, outdoor cats and dogs can bolt from the safety of their yard. If you know a storm is headed your way, make sure to secure your pet in your garage, or other area where they cannot escape. It is a good idea to secure your fence gate with a deadbolt lock so it will stay shut during high winds.
  2. Hail hurts. –  If hail is imminent, bring outdoor pets inside. Hail storms usually don’t last long, so be patient while it passes. Possibly give Fido a bone to chew on to keep his mind occupied from the loud noises.
  3. Tornadoes are deadly. – Tornado warnings can set off ‘panic mode’ and it’s easy to forget about our four-legged friends. If you know tornadoes are possible for your area, keep your eyes and ears open for warnings and sirens. Most people have a safety plan for their family, so make sure to include your pets in that plan. If you have a storm shelter, you can practice with Fido on calmer days. Walk your pets down into the shelter with treats as incentives. This allows them to get used to the shelter so when an actual tornado threatens, they are more likely to cooperate. If you have smaller pets, keep their crates handy so they can easily be taken into the shelter.

Unfortunately, storms are more than just a nuisance, they can be dangerous. Preparation and practice are the best ways to keep your family and your pets safe.