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When It's Raining Cats & Dogs; Helping Pets Weather the Storm


Even before Hurricane Florence arrives in your region, your pets will know it’s coming. 

Our pets are sort of like living barometers. When the air pressure drops due to an impending storm, they feel it.  Mark Freeman is a veterinarian in the small animal clinic at Virginia Tech.

He currently has 13 dogs and 3 cats, most of them small.  “I call it an occupational hazard. In my profession there’s always something that needs a home or a rescuer and I tend to fall for the ones that are underdogs and need a little something extra.

Freeman says most often, when cats pick up on the fact that a big storm is coming, they find a quiet, dark place to hide.  Dogs on the other hand, often look to humans as their source of comfort – and they may get a bit more needy, or clingy or worse.

“If they freak out, ideally you don’t want to reinforce that behavior, so you don’t want to cater to the animal. At the same time, you don’t want to ignore that behavior. If they are anxious you do want to calm and sooth them. So, keeping things as routine as possible is important, engaging in activities that are not stressful for the pet, so, if you have a dog that likes to play ball or tug of war, playing games with the animal, it’s a good idea to offer games or treats or something they might find more pleasant than being concerned about the weather.

Freeman says, if your dog is crate trained, that might be a source of comfort.  And it makes things easier if you do have to evacuate.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.