Preparing for Y2K? Don’t Forget Pets, Says Veterinarian

KAPAA, Hawaii — Is your Y2K pantry canine compliant?

As people gather supplies to prepare for possible shortages early in the year 2000, they should remember to include extra rations for their pets, says a veterinarian with experience in animal emergencies.

Dr. Ihor Basko practices veterinary medicine in Hawaii’s hurricane-prone islands. He recalls that during Hurricane Iniki in 1992, many loose dogs wandered off. Others whose owners left them tied up panicked and strangled themselves.

Although any interruption in services caused by the Y2K bug will not involve the physical devastation of a tropical storm, being prepared for temporary shortages of pet food, water and medication is smart thinking, says Basko.

‘What’s the harm of having some extra stuff?’ he asks. ‘Maybe it will expire or you will never use it, but if there is a problem with supplies, you have it on hand.’

Since pet food manufacturers are dependent on the same distribution system as other food producers, a malfunction in the system could affect the availability of pet food. Basko recommends having a three-month supply of dog or cat food on hand at all times. In a pinch, animals can eat human food, but owners should be careful to get the right amounts of protein, starches, minerals and fats.

Mixing a cup of meat, two-and-a-half cups of rice and one-and-a-half cups of fruits and vegetables is a good formula for dogs, says Basko. The dog should be given one-half cup a day of this mixture for every 10 to 20 pounds of its weight. For example, a 50-pound dog would eat about one-and-a-half cups twice a day.

Cats need double the amount of protein, or meat, and half the starch, or rice, as dogs. One-quarter to one-half cups of the food mixture twice a day is best for cats.

Storing extra water is essential, Basko says. Dogs need about one cup per 20 pounds of body weight a day — twice as much in hot weather. Cats need one-half cup for every six pounds of body weight. If the plumbing works but there’s a worry about contamination, Basko recommends boiling water for 15 minutes and using a filter to eliminate chemicals and heavy metals.

Because telephone lines went down during Iniki, clients were unable to call Basko for emergency treatment. The doctor and his staff drove around, helping out where they could. Telephone outages might occur as a result of Y2K. Keeping a stash of bandages and antibiotics is a good idea, he says. Cats, especially, are prone to bacterial infections and abscesses from fighting.

Owners with diabetic pets should also stock up on extra insulin and heartworm medication in hot climates.

Dr. Ihor Basko, veterinarian, Kapaa, Hawaii, 808-828-1330; web site:

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