PDSA Issues Safety Advice for Pet Owners in the Wake of Flood Warnings

The UK’s largest veterinary charity, PDSA, is urging pet owners to take extra precautions to keep their furry family members safe as stormy weather and flooding sweeps the nation.

The MET Office has issued 90 weather alerts and the Environment Agency has put out 29 warnings regarding heavy rainfall over the coming days, potentially putting the lives of people and pets at risk.

While floods can occur at any time of the year, particularly in areas near rivers, large lakes or the sea, winter time is a particular pinch point, so pet owners should keep a close eye on the weather forecast and act quickly if necessary.

According to the Environment Agency, 5.9 million properties (one in six homes) across England are at risk of flooding. Flood water rises rapidly, so if there is a warning in your immediate area, don’t just hope for the best – act early.

PDSA Vet Claire Roberts said: “Being well prepared is the best way for owners to protect their pets when bad weather hits. Make sure pets are microchipped and that the contact details registered on the chip are up to date. If you have an outdoor cat, make sure you have a litter tray available for them to use if needed. Should you and your pet be separated, having the correct contact details means you are more likely to be reunited. Pack a bag of emergency pet supplies, including a week’s worth of sealed pet food, fresh water, collapsible food bowls, poo bags, bedding, a lead, medication, and proof of vaccinations.

“Create an emergency flood plan and escape route and keep your supplies in one place for ease of access, and always have a pet carrier in your home for cats or small animals. It is important to make sure they are desensitised to being in a carrier and to never leave them unattended while inside one during a flooding situation. Remember, flood water is often contaminated and could seriously harm your pet if swallowed. Dog vaccinations protect against Leptospirosis, a disease caused by bacteria found in and around water, and can be fatal so, it is important to check that your dog is up to date with their vaccinations.”

Claire continued: “If your home is at risk of flooding, bring any pets that live outdoors, inside and shut them in an upstairs room with plenty of access to food and fresh water, but try to keep different species of pets separate if possible as they are naturally territorial.

“Don’t take dogs outside until it is safe to do so as hidden objects within the water could injure them, and prevent cats from becoming stranded, lost, or hurt by keeping them inside with access to a litter tray.

“If your home is a potential flood risk, you may need to leave quickly if you are told to evacuate. If possible, arrange to stay at a friend or relative’s home that is on higher ground, taking your pets, emergency supplies, dog’s collar and ID tag with you. Insurance companies may move you to temporary accommodation and it might not be possible to take your pet with you. In this instance, be prepared to use a boarding kennel or pet sitter. If you are unable to leave your home, stay in an upstairs room with your pets.”

Steps that owners are advised to take include:

  • If you live in a high-risk area, consider getting life jackets for your pets as well as you and your family
  • Make sure your pet insurance is up to date and you have your vet’s contact details to hand in case your pet needs veterinary care
  • Check your home insurance policy to see if you’re covered for the cost of pet accommodation if damage to the home means you cannot stay there
  • Put important documents (e.g. microchip paperwork, vet details, insurance policies) in a sealed waterproof bag, along with a photo of your pet in case they get lost
  • Know what pet sitters or boarding kennels are available locally – ideally outside of flood zones – in case you need to find temporary accommodation for your pet.

“If the worst happens and you have no choice but to leave your pet behind, put them in a safe room upstairs with plenty of food and water, leaving a note on the door or window to inform the emergency services that there are pets inside the property,” added Claire. “Once you are safe, contact the RSPCA or a local flood warden to let them know that there are animals in your home that need rescuing.”

Other advice to help owners stay safe:

  • Sign up to receive flood warnings – you can choose to be notified through a telephone call, text message, or email
  • Visit the MET Office or Environment Agency website for the latest information on the weather or any warnings in your area
  • Keep up to date with local news and weather reports
  • Find out if your home is one of those at risk of flooding

For further advice of keeping your pet safe visit pdsa.org.uk

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