It’s challenging enough to prepare a bug out bag for yourself and your family for a SHTF situation. But if you have to bug out with pets, the situation becomes even more complex. It’s a whole other area of prepping that people need to think about far ahead of time.
The following list will get you started. While every pet has its own unique personality and the needs that go along with them, certain general rules work for most pets. Keep these in mind as you prepare for grid down and other scenarios that might require you to bug out with pets.
Preparing Your Pet for the Worst
For most pet owners, their dog or cat are members of the family. Pets also give back – for example, studies have shown dog owners live longer than those without a pet. Because of the importance of pets, owners want to have the skills and knowledge needed to bring their four-legged companion through a crisis.
By following these SHTF tips, they can do better at prepping for dogs and cats (most of these tips focus on those two, which are by far the most popular household pets).
Start with FEMA Webinars
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides a series of webinars designed to help people prepare for disasters, including tips on taking care of their pets. While not completely on point with a bug out scenario, many of the tips are applicable. They include information on the physical welfare of your pet, as well as preparing them for the psychological impact of a disaster.
Pack Essential Items
Some of the ideas for what to pack for pets from FEMA and the American Red Cross include:
- A sturdy leash, harness and carrier that help transport pets and ensure they don’t escape
- Food (dry and vacuum sealed) and drinking water
- Any medications, as well as safely stored medical records
- A first aid kit. For example, one for dogs should include gauze, non-stick bandages, adhesive tape, cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic spray or ointment, digital thermometer, medicine pill box, scissors, tweezers and a towel
- A photo of your pet in case they get lost
- Bedding and (if there’s room) their favorite toy(s)
Always Have ID For Your Pet
As noted above, having a photo of your pet can help you find them in the event they become separated from you during a disaster. However, it’s also important to have collars and ID tags for the dog that clearly state his or her name, as well as contact information for the owner. Using a microchip is the best way to ID a pet, but may not work with all animals.
Consider a Pack for Your Pet
This applies to dogs. Larger dogs can get fitted with a pack that allows them to carry some items, allowing them to help out as you bug out. Do not overpack! Also, the best packs come with a handle on top, allowing you to easily pick up the dog and carry them over rough or impassable terrain.
Dog Bug Out Bag
There are some issues that are specific to a dog bug out bag that are worth a separate mention. Some thoughts to keep in mind include the following.
- Dogs provide companionship, warmth at night, and a security system if someone approaches
- Consider the age and breed of your dog when assessing how far and where they can travel with you
- Think about training your dog so they will obey your commands and not get unnerved by unexpected circumstances, loud noises, etc.
You also can prepare dogs beforehand in other ways. Build their strength and stamina by taking them on walks and slowly increasing the distance. Take them on overnight or weekend camping trips to prepare them for living outdoors.
Read About Thru-Hikers
Thru hikers refers to people who hike long distance trails. They provide an easy resource for information on how to go long distances with a minimum number of supplies. This can help for you, your family and when you bug out with pets.
No one wants a SHTF situation. On the other hand, no one wants to be the person who doesn’t prepare for a SHTF situation. By prepping for yourself and your family, you can bug out with pets and keep them safe during a dangerous, perhaps even disastrous, situation.