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Storm Safety: Outdoor Animal Pet Care

Updated on March 20, 2013


Yard after a severe hailstorm.
Yard after a severe hailstorm. | Source

Family Pets

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.

Pet Poll

What do you do for your pets in poor weather?

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Pets Shelter

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.

Animal Covering

Horse shelter
Horse shelter | Source
Backyard chicken coop
Backyard chicken coop | Source
Goat shelter
Goat shelter | Source

Thunderstorm Noises

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.

Lightening Picture

Lightening dancing across the sky
Lightening dancing across the sky | Source

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.

Earthquake Damage

Freeway damage after the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco
Freeway damage after the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco | Source

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.


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    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      picklesandrufus - I was skeptical on the animal earthquake thing but seeing it first hand made me a believer. Thanks

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Very good hub. As an animal lover, I think you gave us good information. I know animals can sense an earthquake before people can, for my dog certainly knew before I did.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      pstraubie48 - The roof concern credit goes to my wife, nothing but the best for her 800 plus pound riding companion!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Clearly you have thought of your pets. Thinking of a roof that would be less noisy for your horses is not something many think of. We do love our pets and thinking enough of them to provide shelter for them during storms is important.

      I have an indoor / outdoor kitty. She sometimes sleeps inside but usually all year except winter she sleeps outside. During storms though I call her and she'll come running in usually coated with a fine mist of raindrops. She happily snuggles up on the couch and sleeps till all has passed.

      Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      teaches12345 - Our inside cat hides too but we usually try to get the outdoor cats in the garage. Thanks for commenting.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Marcy - Animals don't get the credit they deserve because some people don't think too highly of them. Our dog at the time did some strange things but this was the only time I ever saw her act like this.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Interesting hub and well done. We used to have a cat that hated thunder. He would hide under the bed and shake. Great suggestions for helping pets to get through it positively.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I've always been amazed at the ability of some animals to detect natural disasters before humans realize it. Maybe that's one reason many animals can survive dangerous weather events. Thanks for this information - and you're one of the few I've met who actually observed the response of an animal to a natural disaster, by the way!

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      bdegiulio - Both of our dogs get scared as well. Thanks for commenting.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Julie - Thanks for voting, hopefully it will help pet owners take good care of their pets during bad storms.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Nettlemere - They are bothered by the small ones down the street but the really big ones in the sky spook them pretty good.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Our 10 year old Shih Tzu is terrified of thunder storms. She shakes like a leaf. She doesn't like fireworks either. We have had many a sleepless night due to storms and fireworks so I know first hand where you are coming from. Great info.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      There is a lot of good information in here. Voted up and useful!

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Fireworks are the worst thing where I live. Around October people start setting them off every evening. Sometimes even during the day and it drives one of my dogs nuts if I'm out walking and one goes off.

      It must be especially difficult for horses, but you clearly make a big effort to keep yours feeling secure.