We have weathered our first hurricane but the season is not over until the end of November. There have been more hurricanes than I can remember, having lived here for almost 25 years.
Dogs can have an uncanny sense of knowing when the barometer changes or can hear storms in the distance. While most dogs might not react, there are others whose senses are so heightened that the anxiety and stress are palpable.
If you add other things they see and hear, such as changes in the household, putting up shutters, moving outdoor furniture, packing the car, it can be a stressful time even in advance of a storm.
Hurricanes feel and sound differently. They are here longer than normal storms, the wind is louder, there is debris and the rain seems endless. In some cases, your dog cannot go outside to potty or doesn’t want to because of all that’s going on.
What can you do if you are staying? Find a safe place in the house for your family and pets. That usually means a room away from outside doors and windows.
If you keep power, then make sure TV’s or radios are played loudly to distract your pets. Give them something to keep them occupied – something long lasting would be best. If you need to secure an indoor area for potty, perhaps a garage with a potty patch system or potty pads will do. When they are under stress, do not be surprised if they don’t potty at all!
One of the many ways dogs act out anxiety is through movement. Because that just adds to their stress, it is important to confine them to a space rather than allowing them to run around or pace. Find a bed, couch, kennel or crate space where you can limit their movement.
You might need to tether them to a piece of furniture. If putting them in a specific room is better, make sure it is darkened or has no windows. If using a crate, cover it with a throw. You might find your dogs prefer to just hide under a piece of furniture.
Anxiety-reducing medications, either prescriptive or holistic, might be necessary depending on the degree of anxiety. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations. Over the counter meds include CBD oil, Valerian and other compounds.
If you plan on evacuating with your pets, bring their vaccine records, food and anything they find comforting – crate, bed, toys, chewies.
Please do not leave your pet in harm’s way if you are driving out of the area. Hotels and motels are extremely accommodating during an evacuation.
For Hurricane Dorian, Ridgeland provided the area’s first pet-friendly shelter ever. This was remarkable and welcomed!
Your pets will do much better with you than separated from you. Keep yourselves and your pets safe, as the season is not nearly over.
Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. AlphaDogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com