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Power Outages and Pets

Caring for Your Pets During Power Outages

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Keep tropical fish warm

Protect fish from power outages by covering the tank, using a battery back-up or moving the fish before the water cools.

© Big Stock Photo
Page 2 of 2: Preparing for Power Outages

All domestic pets, whether feathered, finned or furry, require special care during a power outage. Fish do not adjust well to temperature changes in the tank, and it's dangerous to expose birds to drafts. Dogs and cats, especially, are sensitive to disruptions in their routines and home turf. Pets often can sense your anxiety as well.

Keeping your pets calm, warm and fed during a power outage is necessary for their well being and your own peace of mind. It's tough to maintain tranquility in the midst of chaos. But you know that your pets count on you to care for them, so it's natural that you would want to do whatever you can to help them survive a power outage.

Here are a few tips to help keep your pets safe during a power outage:

Prepare a Back-up Plan for an Aquarium

Fish need oxygen and, in colder weather, a tank heater. Keep a battery-operated air pump on hand for emergencies, but those work well only in 10- to 20-gallon fish tanks. Here are power outage aquarium tips:

  • Wrap the tank in blankets if the temperature drops.
  • Fish can survive for about 12 hours in 60-degree water.
  • Withhold food to reduce activity in the tank because activity will deplete oxygen.
  • In extreme cases, most fish can survive about 48 hours if placed into a plastic (not metal) bucket, which is filled with tank water and set near a heat source such as a fireplace.
  • Most aquarium stores will not accept your fish due to liability issues if the fish were to die.

How to Keep Pet Birds Warm

Many exotic birds thrive in tropical climates with humidity. It is important to keep indoor birds in an environment that is not too dry.

  • Fireplace smoke and space heaters can irritate a bird's respiratory system.
  • Cover bird cages with plenty of blankets.
  • Move bird cages away from drafts, exterior doors and windows.
  • If necessary, take your birds to a friend's home.

Plan for Evacuation of Pets

In an emergency when time is of the essence, you can always grab pillowcases off the bed and stuff your cats inside each. Call in advance to locate a pet-friendly motel, so you will know where to go. A pet emergency plan is crucial.

Keep the following items within easy reach:

  • Cat or bird carriers.
  • Pet food and bowls.
  • Litter boxes, litter and scoop. The top of one of my litter boxes can be removed and used as a litter box.
  • Dog leashes.
  • Pet medicines.

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Sources: Birds.about.com, Saltaquarium.about.com, Cats.about.com, Vetmedicine.about.com, Kady Pasley at Capitol Aquarium in Sacramento

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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