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AVMA Offers Tips on How to Keep Pets Safe After a Natural Disaster


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Millions of people in Florida were forced to evacuate their homes before Hurricane Irma made landfall over the weekend, and many brought their pets with them.

As people prepare to return to their homes, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is encouraging pet owners to take steps to ensure the health and well-being of their pets, in what could be potentially dangerous or stressful environments.

When returning home with pets following a disaster, the AVMA recommends the following:

  • Survey the area inside and outside your home to identify sharp objects, dangerous materials, dangerous wildlife, contaminated water, downed power lines or other hazards.
  • Do not allow pets to roam free outdoors until the area is safe for them to do so. They could encounter dangerous wildlife and debris if allowed outside unsupervised and unrestrained. In addition, familiar scents and landmarks may have changed, and this can confuse pets.
  • Allow uninterrupted rest and sleep to allow pets to recover from the trauma and stress of the evacuation and disaster.
  • The disruption of routine activities can be the biggest cause of stress for pets, so pet owners should try to re-establish a normal schedule as quickly as possible.
  • Comfort each other. The simple act of petting and snuggling can reduce anxiety for both people and pets.

If pet owners notice any signs of stress, discomfort, or illness in their pets, they should contact their veterinarians to schedule a checkup, the AVMA suggests.

The AVMA offers 28-page preparedness guide for owners of companion animals and livestock, which can be viewed here

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