Storm Safety: Outdoor Animal Pet Care
If you have pets you know how they can get upset and nervous when the weather outside gets unsettled. Usually our pets love to lounge around the house, especially the cat, but when it gets noisy outside they can’t relax and they become very restless.
As owners part of our responsibility is to take care of our pets, even when it isn't too convenient.
What do you do for your pets in poor weather?
All of our outside animals have some way to get under protective covers. When we got horses I built them wood stalls with asphalt shingles. We could have used corrugated metal roofing but my wife didn’t think it would be fair for the horses to have to listen to the rain pounding on the noisy metal.
The chickens have a large coop that even I can stand upright in; I’m over six feet tall. The bottom of the walls is wrapped in plywood for security reasons but the top is wrapped in two layers of chicken wire to keep the coop open. During the winter months we install painter’s canvas over the chicken wire to protect them from wind driven rain or wind. They can go into the nesting boxes, where they lay the eggs, but we wanted to give them other options, if they didn’t want to go into the boxes.
We also have dwarf goats and we built a house for them on an old wood pallet. It has the same shingles as the horses do but, since it is on a pallet, we can use our utility dolly and move the shelter around. This portability has come into handy on more than one occasion. Our dwarf buck has an old plastic dog house to keep the rain off of him; his house doubles as his perch since he loves to climb on it.
Fortunately here in Northern California we don’t get thunderstorms very often and they aren’t usually too bad, certainly nothing like the Midwest see all of the time. Occasionally we will get some pretty good ones by our standards and it doesn’t sit well with our pets.
The dogs will usually whimper and seek refuge near us or in the comfort of their crates. The cat will hide in a corner of the house or under some piece of furniture. Our outside pets seem to handle the storms much better. The horses go in their covered stalls, the chickens run to their coop and the goats hate the rain so they run for their house when they feel the first drop.
Since we don’t get the severe thunderstorms that produce tornadoes we don’t have any issues with our animals escaping because of damaged fencing. I can only imagine how hard it is for the residents of severe tornado areas to locate their animals after a really bad tornado goes through town.
Animals and Earthquakes
The main disadvantage to living in California is the earthquakes. Obviously we don’t have them as often as Oklahoma gets tornadoes but they can really shake your nerves when they do hit, since we don’t get any scientific warnings.
Just because we don’t get scientific warnings we do get a little bit of advanced warning, from our pets.
People believe that pets can sense an earthquake about to happen and their behavior usually is a warning to the pending tremor. The key is for humans to comprehend this unusual behavior as a warning and not just the pet acting weird.
Personally I do believe this because I have seen it first-hand. I was in my parent’s garage, about an hour and a half’s drive away, when the 1989 earthquake hit San Francisco; many people know it as the Loma Prieta or World Series earthquake since it happened right before game three of the Bay Bridge series between Oakland and San Francisco.
One of our Cocker Spaniels came through the doggy door and was running around way more than she typically did. Being a pre-teen I wrote her off as just acting weird, until the tools on the wall started to sway. I didn’t realize it at the time but she knew what was about to happen and her behavior was her way to warn us.
Help a Pet
Our pets rely on us for food, water, shelter and to keep them safe. Part of keeping them safe is to help them out when they are scared or upset. If you can bring in the pet during a bad storm please do so. Keeping them out in the bad elements isn’t a very nice thing to do to them so go ahead and find a safe place for them. If you don’t let a big dog into the house try to setup a spot for them in the garage during a bad weather night.
Pets can get upset by other things besides bad weather. We found out the hard way a few years ago that our horses don’t like large fireworks. Our neighbor a few houses over was shooting big fireworks into the sky one fourth of July and each explosion caused them to run around the arena. Obviously we couldn’t bring them in the house to calm them but we did go out there with them to help console them a little bit.
Our animal family members are there for us when we have bad days or aren’t feeling well. The least that we can do to repay them for this attention is taking care of them during bad weather.