North Island floods: How to keep your pets safe as red heavy rain warning begins

Pet owners who may be hit by incoming heavy rain are urged to be prepared in case they have to quickly leave their homes and head to evacuation centres.

There is a red heavy rain warning for Northland, Auckland north of Orewa, the Coromandel Peninsula, and Bay of Plenty west of about Kawerau, including the Rotorua Lakes District, Western Bay of Plenty District, and Tauranga City. MetService warns this rain is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding.

If people need to suddenly leave their homes due to rapidly rising floodwaters, they can bring their pets with them to evacuation centres.

Tony Sutorius, the board chair of Animal Evac NZ, said if pet owners are in areas that are expected to receive this heavy rain, they need to be prepared if they go to a Civil Defence centre.

"The best thing is to plan to take your pets with you in the car when it's time to leave, and if you are going to have to leave, decide to do that in time to be able to be organised," Sutorius told The Project on Tuesday.

"It's a really good idea to be aware that your animals will be stressed and may behave in a slightly unusual way, so the dogs must have leads, muzzles if you can, and cats should be in some form of cage if you're able to do that.

"Find a way of handling it where the stress for them is as low as you can and you take with you the things they're going to need like food, drinking water, and any medications."

Sutorius warns that animals shouldn't be drinking floodwaters since they're often contaminated with sewage or industrial pollutants, meaning they could get infected. 

If someone's dog or cat has been heavily exposed to floodwater, then Sutorius recommends getting them to a vet to check if they're okay.

"It's pretty important that you also make sure they don't drink those waters because even if they're not really filthy, they will still be contaminated to some extent," he said.

"So if you can, your pet should be drinking the same quality of water as you would feel comfortable drinking."

Watch Sutorius' interview on The Project above.