How Do I Keep My Pet Comfortable During a Power Outage?

by Britt
Photo credit: Zlata_Titmouse /

Power outages can be stressful for everyone, but have you ever considered what this experience may feel like for your pet? Imagine witnessing the lights flicker and then go out, leaving you in darkness while unable to understand why it happened.

While we can’t sit down and have a conversation, explaining what they are experiencing, there are steps we can take to keep them comfortable.

This article will explore some easy strategies to keep your pet safe during a power outage, including reducing stress levels and keeping your pet cool (or warm) until the power returns. Plus, I’ll give you a list of must-have supplies to ensure you’re prepared for the next power outage.

Let’s get started…

Do Pets Get Scared When the Power Goes Out?

Whether your dog or cat will be scared or anxious during a power outage will depend mainly on their personality. Some pets will find the experience frightening, while others will carry on their day as if nothing has changed. The best way to predict how your pet will respond is by observing how they act in other new situations.

There are a few potential triggers for stress and anxiety that you may want to take into consideration:

  • Alarm systems, smoke detectors, and other similar items in the home may beep to alert you that the power has gone out
  • A power surge could cause a “pop” or “boom” sound if it impacts electronics in the home
  • The loss of a comforting white noise, like a fan, can increase stress in some pets
  • Power outages often coincide with storms, which can be a source of stress and anxiety for some pets
  • Stress or anxiety felt by human family members as a response to the power outage can influence the stress levels of our pets

4 Ways to Comfort a Stressed or Nervous Pet During a Power Outage

If new or changing environments stress your pet, a power outage could trigger severe anxiety. This will only further complicate an already frustrating situation – especially if the power stays out for an extended period. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help your cat relax and navigate the experience as calmly as possible.

Stick to Your Routine

Pets like dogs and cats thrive off routine. If you have ever had a pet come to ask for their food just minutes before their usual mealtime, you already know what I mean. By sticking to your normal schedule, you can create some sense of normalcy at a time when other elements of their lives may seem odd and different. This means feeding them at the usual time, taking them out to the bathroom (if possible) at regular times, and even following your usual bedtime routine as much as possible.

Set Up a Safe Space

If you are moving your pets with you to a different spot in the house to keep them cool (or warm), bring some of their favorite items to set up a safe space. This could be as simple as bringing their normal bedding or toys that they enjoy playing with. These items will carry a familiar scent, which can be comforting when faced with stress. If you have a crate-trained dog, set up their crate in whichever room you will be staying in during the power outage.

Consider Using Calming Treats

There are many products available that are designed to help calm your pets naturally. If your pet usually becomes stressed or anxious in new settings, you may want to test these products to find out if they are effective in advance.

Calming treats are tasty snacks that contain ingredients like melatonin or CBD that can help calm or settle your pet. They are available in many formulas and forms, including calming oils, chew sticks, soft treats, or powders. I recommend trying a few options on a typical day at home. Take note of which active ingredients work for your pet and which formulas are easiest to administer.

We have had great luck with the Zesty Paws Calming Bites and Native Pet Calming Chews for our boy Lucifer.

Another option you may want to consider is the use of pheromone products. These diffusers, collars, and sprays work by mimicking natural chemicals produced by the body that have a calming and reassuring effect. These chemicals are often associated with the mother cat or dog, soothing their young.

The most common pheromone products are plug-in diffusers, which obviously won’t work during a power outage. However, the Sentry Behavior Portable Calming Diffuser for Cats works without batteries or an outlet.

Try a Calming Shirt

Another product that has gained popularity due to its effectiveness at calming pets during stressful situations like thunderstorms or fireworks is the Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Jacket. This jacket or shirt works by applying gentle, constant pressure across your dog or cat’s body, which has been shown to trigger a natural calming response. They are available in a wide variety of sizes from XXS to XXL, meaning there is an option for cats and dogs of all sizes.

If you find yourself in a situation where your pet is stressed and you don’t have a Thundershirt, you can create a similar solution using a tensor bandage from your first-aid kit.

  1. Place the middle of the bandage against your pet’s chest.
  2. Bring the two ends back to the center of the back, crossing them while maintaining gentle pressure across the chest.
  3. Bring the ends down along your pet’s sides, crossing them again at their stomach.
  4. Holding the two ends straight up into the air, tie them so that the knot sits slightly offset from your dog’s spine. Make sure to keep the gentle pressure needed for the calming effect, but don’t pull it too tight to the point that it is uncomfortable.

How to Keep Pets Warm Without Electricity?

Keeping your family warm (including your pet) is a top priority if the power goes out during the winter. This is especially important if you live in a cold, northern climate.

To begin, move your family, including your pets, into a single room. Close the doors and place towels or blankets along the bottom of the doors to keep any warm air in the room with you. Your combined body heat will help to warm the air in the room.

If you have insulated curtains, keep them pulled tight throughout the night. However, you should open curtains during the day to allow the warmth and sunlight in.

Do you have birds, small animals, reptiles, or other pets in a cage or aquarium that cannot be easily moved? Consider using blankets around their enclosure to offer insulation, but be cautious about placing blankets too close to the edge of a cage if your pet is prone to ripping apart or eating items within their reach. Ensure you leave enough of an opening for ventilation.

Some pets, like reptiles and tropical fish, are especially sensitive to a drop in temperature. For an extended power outage, consider purchasing a battery-powered heating pad. The pad should be placed outside the aquarium with the blankets, not inside where they have direct access, and you must continue to monitor the temperature inside the aquarium the entire time it’s in use.

Do you have a cuddly dog or cat? This is the perfect time to embrace that behavior. Snuggling under some blankets is a great way to make the most of your body heat and keep one another warm and comfortable until the power comes back on. Plus, having you close can be a soothing and comforting presence to keep your pet calm.

How Do You Keep Your Dog and Other Pets Cool During a Power Outage?

Are you facing a possible power outage during the heat of summer? If so, you will face the opposite problem – keeping your pets cool. If you live in a home with a basement, that is often the coolest place in the house. If not, consider an internal room away from any sunny windows.

There are many great cooling products available depending on your pet's needs. For dogs and cats, consider using a cooling vest, like the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Dog Vest, or a bandana, like the RC Pet Products Zephyr Cooling Bandana. These items use evaporative technology. Simply wet them down, and as the water evaporates, they provide a cooling sensation against your dog’s skin. When they dry out completely, just wet them again to restart the process.

Alternatively, a towel soaked in cool water can offer a little relief.

A pressure-activated cooling mat like the Chillz Dog Cooling Mat may be a working solution for pets in cages or aquariums. You can also use a battery-operated fan to improve airflow through the room for both you and your pets.

Most importantly, ensure your pet has access to plenty of cool, fresh water.

Other Important Considerations During a Power Outage

Some pets have greater needs than others, especially during a power outage or similar emergency. This often means taking additional precautions to keep them safe. If you have an aquarium, a loss of oxygen could be devastating, especially if the power outage lasts several days. The best way to prepare for this complication is to have a generator or battery-operated power supply available.

Do you have a pet with unique medical needs? Take a moment to inventory everything your pet needs to stay healthy and comfortable. Consider whether their health conditions make them more susceptible to overheating or other related complications.

What Emergency Supplies Should I Have for a Prolonged Blackout with Pets?

The best way to ensure you’re prepared to care for your pet during an emergency is to have an emergency kit prepared and easily accessible. This means making a list of everything you may need in an emergency for you and your pets. No two emergency kits will be the same, as you will need to consider your family’s unique needs. Consider having a conversation with your family members, as they may think of something important you have overlooked.

Here are a few essential items that are included in our emergency kit to help you start creating your own list:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Food and water dishes, along with enough fresh water and pet food to last approximately one week
  • A list of any medication your pet is currently taking plus enough medication for one week
  • Up-to-date veterinary records and a recent photo of your pet (in case they are lost)
  • Contact information for your veterinarian and the nearest emergency vet clinics
  • A pet-friendly first-aid kit
  • An extra leash and harness (if they wear one) or a carrier for smaller pets to allow for transportation if you must evacuate
  • A cat litter pan and extra litter or extra bedding for small animals
  • A blanket or stuffed animal that your pet has previously used and contains their scent
  • Plastic trash bags, paper towels, and bleach for cleaning (especially if you have a cage-bound pet to care for)

You should keep any items that could be damaged by water, like food and paper documentation, in a waterproof container. While this doesn’t apply to a power outage, it will protect your gear in the event of a hurricane or similar natural disaster. During that time, this kit will also prove invaluable.

Final Thoughts: Surviving a Power Outage with Pets

Severe storms and power outages can cause many pets extreme stress and anxiety. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce stress and make the situation far more manageable for everyone involved.

If the lights are flickering, take a deep breath. Our pets sense and reflect our energy, so maintaining a level head can help calm your pet. Be prepared by creating an emergency kit with everything you need in one spot, such as a flashlight, cooling products (or a warm, cozy blanket), and a supply of food and fresh water.

Whether the power is out for a few hours or days, you and your pet can easily navigate this situation with a bit of advance preparation.

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Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Lucifer and Willow – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

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