While dogs are, more often than not, the family members that get the most attention, they’re often forgotten when it comes to emergency preparedness.
It isn’t just people who go missing or die in case of a disaster. Left unattended, pets will have no choice but to survive on their own (which in many cases means them crawling into a corner of the house and just wait there).
I’m sure you’ve seen footage of dogs being rescued after Katrina. Maybe you’ve seen little old ladies looking for their cat among debris. Sometimes we value our pets’ lives more than our own, which is why we need to include them in our survival plans. A dog will also bring a lot of comfort and joy when society crumbles to pieces, yet another good reason to prep them.
With this in mind, let’s see some of the things you can buy for your dog to improve his chances of survival in a disaster, as well as your own.
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Unless your dog is really small, the first prep to consider is a dog backpack. This is something you should discuss with the vet, and make sure you ask him or her about the maximum weight you can put on its back (should be no more than a third of its own weight). Keep in mind that, in a bug out situation, you need your dog to keep up, so the lighter the load, the better.
If it isn’t feasible to get a dog bug out bag, consider getting a separate backpack that either you or one of your family members will carry.
The following items are more than what your dog can carry and that’s ok. Some of them will go in your car’s trunk, others inside your own bag. In time, you’ll move things around in your survival bags, always looking to make them lighter, to add one more item, and to optimize the way they are packed.
Without further ado, here’s the list of items you should include in your dog’s survival kit…
Food and Water
Get some freeze-dried dog food as well as dried food. You can add canned food to your stockpile. Canned food should last a couple of years, even more if you keep it in a cool, dry, dark place such as a basement or a root cellar. Dried food, on the other hand, will probably last around a year.
Check the shelf life and assume it will last even less if you’ll be keeping it in your bug out vehicle’s trunk, because it can get pretty hot during summer. The food you keep inside the backpack, just like the one inside your own BOB will also last less, because of the less-than-ideal conditions.
Muzzle, Leash and Collar
You’ll have to keep an eye out on your dog at all times. Many dogs are scared of fireworks, so you never know how yours is going to react when there’s chaos and panic all around.
If you’ll be using a bug out vehicle to evacuate, you’ll need to keep him tied down inside the car, or have someone hold him tight… You definitely don’t want him moving around the car as you’re bugging out behind the wheel.
If you’re bugging out on foot, you don’t want it biting other people, you could get into conflicts with others, the last ting you want in a bug out situation. Let’s face it: in a disaster situation, your dog is going to be yet another distraction amidst the chaos.
One other thing you can get is get a glow-in-the-dark collar, to make it easier to spot in the woods or on the homestead.
First Aid Kit
Just like you, it’s possible that your dog will get injured while bugging out. With dangers at every step, it’s only a matter of time until it steps into a piece of glass, or if another animal attacks it. Some items to consider:
- alcohol wipes
- cotton balls
- adhesive tape
- hydrogen peroxide
- non-latex gloves
- rectal thermometer
- petroleum jelly (use it to lubricate the aforementioned thermometer or to start a fire)
Unfortunately, having a first aid kit isn’t enough. You’re also going to need the knowledge to use it. If you’re considering taking a first aid course for humans, why not take one for your pet? Your dog will give its life to defend you when you’re in danger so do consider returning the favor.
This is something every family member should have in their survival bag, not just your dog. Keep copies of shot records, records of any diseases it may have (as well as treatments) and, of course, don’t forget to write its name.
If your dog gets lost and someone finds it, the more they know about it, the better. Be sure to include your own personal information, such as a phone number or a location where they can meet you (if they can’t reach you over the phone) and your vet’s phone number.
You should also include a recent photo of your pet, but please keep it in your own backpack. If your dog gets lost, you’ll need to show it to people when you’re searching for it. People share these kinds of photos on Facebook, but in a survivla situation, there might not be any Facebook to post on.
Pretty much every item on this list should go into an airtight zipper bag, because everything needs to be waterproofed. These bags have lots of alternative uses for survival anyway. They’re cheap, lightweight – you can never have enough of.
Get an inflatable toy because it’s lighter and takes less space. I said one because there’s no point in having more. If anything, you should keep the rest of your dog’s toys between your home and your bug out location to cover both bugging in and bugging out scenarios.
Even if your dog is furry and is comfortable sleeping outside, you still need to pack a blanket. Consider the fact that you may bug out in the winter. Consider the fact that your dog may get injured at some point. Even if your dog won’t use it, maybe you will… A small wool blanket could prove itself useful in a number of cases.
If you plan to bug out on foot or on your bike, dog boots are mandatory. It’s likely that your dog will step into something at some point, particularly in the woods.
The only thing is, you need to train your dog to wear them. If you haven’t seen the YouTube videos of dogs wearing boots for the first time, they are hilarious. Think of it like a survival skill for your dog.
I’m not saying that this list is comprehensive by any means. If you truly want your dog prepared for any disaster, big or small, you’ll need to think about increasing your food and water stockpile to accommodate him. Now, whether that food goes into its backpack or somewhere else, that’s another story.
Remember that bugging in has its own set of challenges. From stockpiling to home security, your dog will influence every aspect of your survival plans. You might as well include your boy (or girl!) in your survival plans from the very beginning.
Dan has come into contact with homesteading when he was 4 years old, and would spend summers in the countryside with his grandparents. The skills and the mindset that he’s learned now allow him in his mid 30s to better prepare for whatever may come.