New Year's Resolution: Update Your Disaster Plan for Pets and Horses (and Yourself); Watch AVMA Video Tips

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I hope that Mother Nature's resolution for the new year is to have a quiet, peaceful year without hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, ice storms, tidal waves, earthquakes or wildfires but just in case, take a few minutes to watch this helpful new video featuring Dr. Heather Case, Coordinator for Emergency Preparedness with the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Case reviews common sense steps to take to have your pets and horses ready to evacuate in the event of a disaster. There are sure to be specific aspects for your geographic area or the type of pets you own but the dawn of a new year is a great time to go over your basic plans and inventory your contacts and supplies.

Don't forget your own health, as well as your pets. The first of the year is a great time to take 15 minutes (that's all it takes, honest) to fill out a Google Health Profile. This profile lives online and can contain just simple information like your doctors and family contacts in the event of an emergency, or you can list allergies, or vaccinations, or medications and dosages. If you are away from home and become ill or injured, this data could be of supreme value to hospitals providing your care. This is a no-brainer for trail/endurance riders and eventers, but valid for anyone working around horses.

What will those clever people at Google think of next? My Blue Cross Blue Shield newsletter recently advised me to set up a Google Health Profile, so this system is widely recognized for its value. You can fill in as much or as little information as you wish.

Another new year's task that will start your year on the right hoof is to book your routine health appointments now: your annual physical, your dental xrays and cleaning, eye exam, your mammogram and gyn exam (if you're a woman), and (especially) those Big Tests like bone density and colonoscopy, if you are due to need one. Don't put off your routine health until the middle of riding and travel seasons, get those appointments onto your calendar now! You'll also be able to book your best time of the day if you have a few months to spare.

Check on your tetanus booster status; anyone working outdoors or around animals needs to stay up to date on that one! I think a skin cancer screening is a good investment, too.

And, while you're at it, go shovel out that horse trailer, if you live in a snowy zone, and make sure that you can open all the ramps and doors. No, you can't run away from an ice storm or blizzard, but if you have a sick or injured horse that needs to get to the hospital this winter, your trailer must be ready to roll! (Check the tire pressure, too!)

Taking care of things sooner instead of later will give you more time to enjoy with your animals, and who doesn't want that? Your animals need to have their plans in order, and if something goes wrong, they need you to be healthy and able to care for them!