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The United States, like many other countries, have been subjected to some very harsh weather over the past decade. From hurricanes to wildfires, flooding to tornados, there is no safe place. This has resulted in millions of displaced animals around the country.

What are your pet’s rights during a disaster?

The Pets Act of 2006 was created after Hurricane Katrina resulted in tens of thousands of abandoned and dying pets. While it has helped, it doesn’t do much beyond provide extra funds for states who include pets in their evacuation plans. It does not, however, require privately-owned properties (like hotels) to waive their pet policy.

This is why it’s important to be prepared. Every dog (and person) should have a “go-bag,” which contains the items you or your pet need in order to survive for 3 days. Be sure to include a harness, muzzle, and/or crate in your plans. Public transportation and most public shelters require large dogs to be muzzled and smaller dogs to be crated.

If you have to evacuate and are in a strange location with your dog, calm him with DOGTV programming. This will relax him and help him block out sounds of an unfamiliar location.

Keeping Dogs Calm

Even the most docile of dogs can become aggressive in the high-stress, heavy activity evacuation centers. Owners are stressed, there is constant movement, and far too many people and pets. It’s up to you to minimize the level of discomfort for you and your pets. Here are a few ways you can reduce stress for your dogs during a disaster.

Supplement Calmants: Calmants can help keep your dog calmer and are simply to administer. Natural calmants are the best option, since they rarely interfere with your pet’s heart or create stomach problems. Consider herbal therapies like Rescue Remedy or Licks Zen.

Calming Toys: Choose toys that keep pets engaged and calm. There are now specific toys available for this purpose. Stick with durable items like Kong Classic or the West Paw Zogoflex puzzle toys. It’s best to stay with silent toys, as noises can quickly become overwhelming to pets and people.

Calm Clothing: There are a number of “calmants” in the form of clothing available now. These include the ThunderShirt, the Calmz system, Surgi Snuggly and Happy Hoodie.

Wipes and Sprays: Natural calming wipes and sprays are often based on essential oils, hydrosols (which is best for animals), or natural pheromones. A few favorites include Earth Heart Canine Calm and Kibble Pet Wipes.

Prescription Medication: Please exercise caution when using prescription medication to calm pets during disasters. These tend to exacerbate the problem in some dogs, increase aggression, and depress the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. They can also result in vomiting and diarrhea, which can obviously make your experience much worse.

No matter which method you prefer to keep dogs calm, plan ahead and experiment to see what works best for your dogs.