Tips For Preparing For Hurricanes

Image courtesy of Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center.

Everyone faces the possibility of various forms of disasters depending on their regions. Hurricanes are one of the most widespread possibilities and fortunately occur with warning, unlike most disasters. All the same, you should be prepared in advance and make sure that your clients are as well if you live in areas that hurricanes are a possibility. As this year’s hurricane season wraps up in November, now is the time to make sure you are prepared and start thinking about next year as well.


Stay tuned to keeping up with current hurricanes condition

Having a plan for what you will do when a hurricane is bearing down on your town is the most important thing you can do. Everyone in your area will be buying supplies, rushing to prepare and trying to make decisions on what to do next. If you are ready in advance and know what you will be doing, you can give yourself critical time to take care of as much as possible before the storm makes landfall. Here are some of the most important measures you can take to prepare for a hurricane:

To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:

  • If you don’t already have one prepare an emergency kit, this needs to include toys, food, water, first aid for both human and pets. Don’t forget their bedding, leashes, cat litter, trash bags……..
  • Have a family communication plans including where to meet if you are separated.
  • Know your surroundings and evacuations routes and have more than one. If the authorities are advising evacuation, leave immediately.  Don’t Wait!   You could be trapped.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property including flood-prone lands. Know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you or to an escape route.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground and determine where you would go for high grounds, and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.

Once you know exactly what you will do in the event of a possible hurricane, the next step is to make plans to secure your property. You may not have much time to batten down the hatches once you are certain you are in the path of the storm. Having a list of things that you will need to be done will help you get them accomplished rapidly. These are some of the most important tasks to tackle before the storm:

  • Cover all of your home’s windows either by boarding them up with 5/8″ marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit and ready to install or by permanent storm shutters, these offer the best protection for windows.  Tape will  not prevent windows from breaking.
  • To reduce roof damage Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors because wind entering your garage can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • If you own a boat, determine how and where to secure it.
  • Install a generator for emergencies just in case you lose power.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • Consider building a safe room, someplace where everyone will be safe from any broken glass or debris.
  • Make sure EVERY HUMAN and PET has documentation, especially to show that you are the owners of those pet and they pets are current on shots.  Gather up the documents and take them with you.
  • Find pet friendly places to stay if you need to evacuate.

Having an advanced plan for the possibility of a hurricane can give you the extra time that you need to get everything prepped and give you the best chance of weathering the storm. You don’t want to find yourself in position to have to leave things behind and in disarray. The last thing you should do is leave your pets behind, which could endanger their lives. If you have a plan in place you will not find yourself panicked and scrambling to get things together. Instead you can prepare for the worst and if necessary, get your family and pets to a safe place.


Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.

Thirteen Ingredients To Avoid in Dog Food

Our dogs should live as long as 20 years but instead most make their crossings much sooner than provided by their DNA.  Much of this can be attributed to the food they eat.  Providing a balanced meal for our beloved pets is essential to extending your dog’s life.



Many commercial dog food products have chemicals approved for pet consumption.

Some owners feeding homemade and raw food diets are well-intentioned yet sometimes important  nutrients that dogs need get left out of the dog’s diet and foods that are toxic are included.

Here is a list of what to avoid in feeding dogs:

  1. Common ingredients in commercial pet foods include meat by-products which are not fit for human consumption and are not a digestible protein sources.  By-products can include intestines, chicken heads, duck bills, fish heads, chicken and turkey feet, hides, feathers, bones, hair, and possible meat from diseased, disable, dying, drugged and dead animals.
  2. Soy, corn, and wheat are indigestible proteins that can stress dogs kidneys and  causes allergies.  To hide the fact that these are main ingredients in commercial foods, these are also called ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, ground whole wheat, or whole wheat flour,  just to mention a few.
  3. Meat and bone meal can include dead pets and animals from road kill and vets  offices.  Animals that have been euthanized, treated with antibiotics or steroids sometimes are grounded up through rendering factories.  These animals may have died from all sorts of diseases, trauma and natural causes.  Unless you know the source of the meal has high quality, it should be avoided.  If you don’t know, call the company and ask about their suppliers.
  4. BHA & BHT have been known to cause liver and kidney dysfunction and are      known carcinogens and is used has a preservative to provide a 2 year shelf life or greater.
  5. Until recently, garlic was thought to be an inexpensive, natural, and safe way to fight parasites and improve the pet’s health.  Here is the catch!  Garlic is from the onion family and it can be harmful, if not deadly to our pets.  Garlic can provide many great health benefits when fed regularly to our pets.  It can stimulate white blood cells, prevent tumor formation, and decrease blood cholesterol.  Some vets propose that it helps with treatments for allergies, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infections, intestinal parasites, kidney disease.  The effect it has as a natural flea and parasite repellent can be useful.  Many manufactures include it in raw and other natural diets in their food formulas so many treats and vitamins contain garlic. But in the last 10 years, toxicity studies indicate garlic can pose a potential serious health risk when fed to cats and dogs if given in excessive quantities.  The possible side affects are vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, tachycardia (irregular heart beat), weakness, liver damage, allergic reactions, asthmatic attacks, contact dermatitis, or gastrointestinal damage.  The recommended use is one crushed clove of garlic per every 30 pounds but this is one of the chambers of the garlic and not the whole garlic bulb. A 60 pound dog could use no more then two clove (chambers) of garlic not the whole garlic bulb.  A 15 pound dog would use 1/2 clove (chamber) of garlic.
  6. Baking Ingredients.  A new trend is emerging  in the popularity of homemade treats.  Common ingredients include those that irritate dog’s digestion like whole wheat flour, baking soda/powder.  These ingredients hold dough together but are not good for dogs.  Baking soda makes the dough rise, but it also releases gases that react to moisture and heat in a dog’s stomach.  This can lead to bloat or other stomach problems.  It can be painful for the dog and cause the stomach and intestines to rupture and can lead to death.
  7.  Bisphenol A (BPA) used to make hard, clear plastics flexible and to line canned  dog food.  It can contribute to a higher risk of mammary and prostrate cancers.  BPA also affects the brain development, increased aggression in adulthood, abnormal play, and sexual behavior, and decrease maternal behaviors in both animals and humans.  Avoid feeding dogs from plastic dishes or letting them chew plastic toys  If you feed canned food, buy BPA-free canned food like Life’s Abundance.
  8. Artificial colors and flavor artificial preservatives like propylene glycol and ethoxyquin are among the worst ingredients found in commercial dog food.  Ethoxyguin is approved for use as a preservative in commercial dog food.  Ethoxyguin was first used as a rubber and is now considered a pesticide by the FDA.  It is used to extend the shelf life of pet food for up to two years.  According to the FDA’s website, pet owners have previously complained about ethoxyguin, charging its caused a variety of ailments in their dogs.  Propylene glycol, on the other hand, is known to alter-red blood cells in felines.  After conclusive tests were completed it was removed from cat food but remains in dog food.  Certain artificial colorings are also known to cause health issues in humans and laboratory animals.
  9. Steer clear of commercially manufactured pet foods that contain ingredients- like monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrate and benzaldehyde.  As some of these artificial flavorings have been associated with negative health consequences for both humans and animals.   Benzaldehyde has been charged with causing everything from contact dermatitis and eye irritation to respiratory failure in humans. It has also been accused of causing incontinence, eye irritation, decreases in blood pressure and other health issues in laboratory animals.
  10. Sugar and corn syrup are the cheapest and simplest of sugars.  Corn syrup is believed to be the main  culprit for causing obesity in pets as well as humans. Dogs do not need sugar in any form. Sugar can cause diabetes and be a major cause of cataracts and chronic ear infections.  Corn is also one of the ingredients that causes dogs to develop allergies. Another problem with corn is the amount of pesticides used to grow the corn. That pesticide is not washed off before processing.  This also causes  environmental problems as the runoff from corn fields seeps into ground water. Typical pet foods contain an alarming amount of pesticides.  Chronically itchy or scaly skin, moist dermatitis, “hot spots,” and smelly skin and ears are some symptoms of a corn allergy.  Most of this can be completely cured by a change in diet.
  11. Beef tallow and cooked animal fat can cause cancer in dogs, and trigger pancreatitis.
  12. Propylene Glycol used as automotive antifreeze and can cause destruction of red blood cells.
  13. Chocolate has alkaloid in it called theobromine and this comes from the same      caffeine family that is a stimulant.  It stimulates the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and can cause an increase in blood pressure.  Pets cannot process this as quickly as  human and the effects can be severe.

Watch this video for more information about pet food processing and what pet food manufactures don’t want you to know.

Providing fresh and untainted food is important for your dog’s health.  Finding a food that is fresh and safe is a challenge.  Life’s Abundance  does not contain any of the above ingredients.  The food is made from the high-grade ingredients and in small batches which significantly improves quality control.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.

Moving to a New state or Country

Moving to a new state or country can be really stressful on both human and pets and it becomes even more stressful on the pets when the humans do not check on various legislations on importing dogs including Breed Specific Legislations (BS) and/or quarantines.

Why is this important to know?


If a pet dog is on the BSL list and goes into an area that they are either banned or restricted then the owner has unknowingly put their pet into danger.  If the dog breed is banned, usually the band consists of taking the dog and euthanizing it or if a personality test is administered and the dog passes it, then the is restricted.

Hawaii and a few other countries have quarantines for pets being imported.  The current quarantine period in Hawaii is 120 days, 30 days, or up to five days, depending on what rabies testing is done BEFORE the dog arrives in Hawaii.  If a pet qualifies for the 5 days or less quarantine these guidelines are required:

  • the dog must have received at least two rabies vaccinations, not less than three months apart and the most recent must be between 90 days and a year before arriving in Hawaii
  • the dog must have had a microchip identification implanted by a veterinarian, and
  • a blood sample, identified by the microchip ID number, must be tested for rabies antibodies 120 days to 18 months before arrival

There are a lot of detailed rules about what paperwork is required and when fees must be paid before importing a pet. It is the owners responsibility to get all that information well in advance – keep in mind that there’ is a 120-day waiting period after the blood test – so that the process goes smoothly.  Not only is the owner and the dog separated for 120 days, the owner has to pay for the all of the costs of the quarantine which can start at $1,080 for 120 days, $655 for 30 days, or $224 for five days or less.  This is payable when the dog arrives in Hawaii and the Airlines deliver the pets directly to a state holding facility.  The state then takes them to the quarantine station on the island of Oahu. Dogs are kept in individual outdoor runs and the owners can visit their dogs during afternoon visiting hours but cannot take the animals out of the kennel.

It is very important for the owners to arrange this ahead as well as arranging for a private animal hospital to provide emergency veterinary care during the quarantine because the quarantine center handles minor ailments, but it does not have facilities for major medical problems. Unless a veterinary hospital has agreed in advance to accept an ill pet, the state will not take the animal to a private hospital.

Let us not forget traveling by airline with your pets.  Small dogs upon airline approval and with a paid fee can usually ride up front with its people.  Larger dogs are treated like cargo and must ride below and a fee must be paid.  It is important for dogs owners to arrange proper and safe transport of their pets.  There are pet transports that maybe able to assist in getting the pet to the new home but again this must be thought out ahead of time.

If the dog is a service dog again be prepared and do your homework and make sure to have the appropriate paperwork and other requirement completed ahead of time.

Pet owners really should do their homework and plan ahead before making that big move jump if then intend on taking their dogs with them otherwise this move just might end in a disaster for their dogs.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.