How to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Solar Eclipse

The solar eclipse set to cross North America on Monday, April 8, has humans aflutter with anticipation, but the phenomenon, and even more so the crowds it attracts, could be disorienting and anxiety-inducing for pets.

During solar eclipses, when the sky briefly turns dark, dogs may cower, birds stop flying and grow quiet, and nocturnal creatures emerge. 

But the bigger concerns for pets, veterinarians tell TIME, are the anticipated mass gatherings. Millions are expected to travel and attend eclipse viewings that will likely provoke strong emotions in humans, which could unsettle animals. 

Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club, tells TIME that veterinarians are “more concerned” with the impact of human behavior and activity on pets during the event “rather than actually what the eclipse is going to do to the animals.”

It’s important for pet owners to plan ahead—think about where you are going to be, the best place for your pet to be, and then prepare to make them safe and comfortable—Rena Carlson, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says.

“Make sure that wherever your pet is or your animals are, their needs are met,” Carlson advises. 

Here are 10 tips from experts about how best you can protect your pets during the solar eclipse.

Read More: How to Safely Watch the Total Eclipse

Don’t bring pets to large gatherings 

Veterinarians tell TIME that their main advice is to avoid bringing pets to eclipse viewing events with big crowds, potentially loud noises, and excitable humans that could stress the animal. คำพูดจาก สล็อตเว็บตรง

“You really need to think about all the crowds, all the people, all the noise, and that’s the biggest concern I have with the pets. Honestly, they’re going to be reacting to our excitement and all the commotion that’s happening during the eclipse, rather than the eclipse itself,” Carlson notes. 

“Most animals are going to be unphased” by the physical phenomenon, the veterinarian adds, explaining that what they will react to most is human behavior. 

Keep pets inside  

Experts say the best thing to do is to keep your pets inside, at home, to avoid unnecessary stress: “Really that is the best advice, just keep them inside,” Carlson says. 

Klein says dogs “might not be as excited about this phenomenon as we are,” but they take their cues from humans because of our closely interviewed behaviors and actions. 

“I would say try to keep things as regular as possible, and if they’re in their own environment, they feel more safe and secure,” Klein says. 

Try and ensure your pets don’t stare at the sun  

Looking directly at the sun can be harmful to animals, as it is to humans, but experts say pet owners shouldn’t worry during the eclipse because animals do not naturally look at the sun—and we shouldn’t encourage them to.

“We shouldn’t force our pets to do something that’s potentially dangerous or personally they don’t want to do,” Klein says. “That’s enough to potentially harm their vision, and you don’t want to do that.” 

However, experts say it’s not a good idea, and unnecessary, to put eclipse glasses on your pet. 

“Don’t try to put glasses on them, that’s going to be more annoying and they’re going to wonder what the heck’s going on,” Carlson says. “My dog would be the one that would paw them off their head and chew them up and eat half of them.” 

Experts reassure pet owners that animals don’t look at the sun naturally, so even if pets are outside they will probably be fine, but if you’re concerned they may look up by accident, keep them inside to minimize the risk. 

You can also take an added measure to reduce pets’ stress and exposure to the sun by drawing curtains or moving cat climbing posts or other items away from windows during the eclipse, Leah Ellis, a veterinarian at the Prince Edward Island Humane Society in Canada, tells TIME.

If you leave home, be prepared for long travel 

During the last total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 2017, Carlson, who lives in southern Idaho, says that a normal two-hour drive took up to 10 hours due to traffic. Transportation officials this year have warned drivers to brace for heavy traffic and plan extra time getting to and from eclipse destinations, with other 2017 eclipse-viewers also reporting extended travel times. 

The veterinarian warns pet owners, if they are traveling with their animals, to be prepared for much longer than expected trips, bring extra food and water, and plan stops to exercise your pet. 

If you’ve left a pet at home, “be mindful of the fact that you may not get home as quickly as you thought you would” and “have that contingency plan” that your pets’ needs are met by others in your absence.

Read More: Helpful Tips for Planning Your Solar Eclipse Trip

If you’re in public, keep your pet on a leash 

If you do bring your pet, such as a dog, out to an event, keep them on a close leash, as canines may panic, run away under stress, and could get lost in a large crowd, experts say. 

“Changes in the environment may trigger stress, confusion, or fear in your dog. Concerned owners should keep an eye on their dog during the eclipse, checking for signs of worry so they can provide their dog with reassurance,” Bill Lambert, a dog health expert at The Kennel Club in the U.K., tells TIME in an emailed statement. “Sometimes stressed or fearful dogs may try to run away, so do ensure your property is secure and your dog has a collar with an ID tag, and their microchip details are up to date.” 

Watch out for and respond to stress signs  

Signs of stress for dogs include panting, pacing, and changes in facial expressions, such as eyes bulging to show eye whites, experts say. They warn pet owners to recognize these signs early, and if you notice them, remove your animal from the stress trigger and soothe them in the best way you know how. 

If you’re at a large event, it could be wise to bring your dog back to your car or another quieter place to hang out and ensure they don’t get frantic, Ellis says. 

“When animals get frantic, that’s when accidents happen and they get into a fight or flight mode and end up just trying to run away from what they’re scared of,” the veterinarian continues. “The sooner that you notice those more subtle signs, and try to de-escalate from there, you’re generally going to have better results and hopefully a better outcome.”

“The best thing to do is just to avoid these very stressful situations in general,” she adds. 

If needed, provide distractions 

If your pet is stressed, the Toronto Humane Society recommended distracting your animal with toys or treats. You could absorb your canine with a training session with their favorite treats, the American Kennel Club suggested. If your pet is particularly prone to anxiety, talk to your vet in advance about management strategies, which could include anti-anxiety medications, The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine proposed. 

Be prepared your pet may be hungry or tired  คำพูดจาก สล็อตเว็บตรง

Animals are creatures of habit who follow visual cues, so some pets may ask for dinner a lot earlier than normal because they think it’s nighttime, Ashley Travis, spokesperson for the Prince Edward Island Humane Society, says. Pets also may become a little bit more lethargic because they think it’s time to go to sleep.

Read More: How Astrologists Are Preparing for the 2024 Solar Eclipse

Minimize risks around outdoor animals 

The reactions of larger outside creatures, such as horses or farm animals, will depend on the personality of the animal and their circumstances during the eclipse, Isabelle Louge, clinical assistant professor of food animal field services at Texas A&M University, tells TIME. Some animals may spook, be more on edge, and potentially group together, while others might not react at all. 

The veterinarian’s advice for people who own large animals is to avoid working with them during the eclipse for personal safety. 

“If you have a 1,000-pound horse and they get distraught by the event or they get spooked, and move very rapidly or suddenly, especially if they can’t see you, they might be prone to injuring you even if they don’t intend to,” Louge says. 

The veterinarian recommends keeping larger outside animals in their most comfortable environment during the event. 

“Just keep them in an area they’re very familiar with that doesn’t have any big hazards, so they’re not going to do things like step in pot holes or fall down ravines during that time, because the daylight change will impede their ability to see,” Louge says. 

Avoid traveling during the eclipse with larger animals, but if you have to, you could provide a light source in a trailer, for instance, to avoid injuries, Louge adds. Inspect animals after the eclipse to make sure they’re not injured and if so, seek care. 

Stock up on supplies 

Some experts suggested making sure you have enough food, water, medications, and any other items you need for your animal in advance of the eclipse, especially if you’re traveling, as large crowds are expected that could potentially put a strain on supplies in popular destinations. 

While it’s always best to be prepared, though, experts say not to worry about any kind of pandemic-level shortages: “I don’t perceive this being that extreme,” Klein says.

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