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When disaster strikes, it’s important that you are prepared to take care of the ones who mean the most to you: your spouse, your children, your parents, and other relatives or friends that might need your help. But what about your pets? Although most people love their pets, they still tend to forget about them when preparing for a disaster.
If you haven’t already, you should make sure to stash away supplies to keep your dogs and cats alive in a SHTF scenario. Of course, that could be complicated if you have to bug out, but it’s still possible. All you have to do is put together a bug out bag for your pets. That’s where this article comes in.
Now I know some of you are probably laughing at the idea of bug out bags for dogs and cats. If you’re trying to survive doomsday, you won’t have time to worry about Fido and Mr. Whiskers. But I’m not talking about an all-out doomsday scenario here.
Obviously, in a bad enough disaster, you would have to leave your pets behind. I’m talking about a situation where you are forced to evacuate your area for a few days or weeks. In that case, you don’t want last-minute concerns about your pets to slow you down. You want to be able to grab their things and hit the road at a moment’s notice.
To that end, here’s what to put in your pets’ bug out bags.
How to Prepare a Dog’s Bug Out Bag
Much like a human being’s bug out bag, a dog’s bugout bag is going to contain all of the essentials needed for survival as well as a few comfort items to make the experience less traumatic. To get started putting together a bug out bag for dogs, here are the items you will need:
One benefit of preparing a bug out bag for a dog is that, if your dog is very big at all, it will be perfectly capable of carrying its own supplies. By purchasing a dog saddlebag and putting supplies in it, you can have a bug out bag that quickly and easily attaches to your dog’s back, saving you from having to carry its supplies as well as your own.
One of the most obvious supplies that your dog will need is food. However, when packing dog food for a bug out bag, storage space and weight distribution must be kept in mind. One thing about saddlebags is that you will need to keep the weight well balanced between both sides of the bag or it will shift and slide off the dog’s back.
Since food and water are likely the heaviest items you will be packing in your dog’s bug out bag, you will need to take the weight distribution of these items into account. One easy way to do this with food is to separate the food out into multiple Ziploc bags and place an even number of them on each side of the saddlebag.
If you happen to bring any canned dog food, make sure you have a can opener.
Once you’ve got dog food packed, next up is water. As mentioned, weight distribution with water is important as well. The easiest way to pack water in your dog’s bug out bag is to purchase large bottles of water and carry a couple of them in each side of the saddlebag. Obviously, only a large, strong dog can carry a lot of water.
Collapsible Food and Water Bowls
You can feed your dog food off the ground and water out of your hand in a pinch, but food and water bowls are so much more convenient. If you buy these collapsible bowls then you’ll hardly add any weight to your dog’s bag.
Obviously, any medicines your dog is already taking will be important to include in the bug out bag. However, some medicines your dog doesn’t normally take will be good to bring along as well. For example, fleas and ticks may not normally be a concern, but if you are taking your dog out into a rural area, then you will want to have flea and tick medicine packed.
Extra Leash and Collar with ID Tags
If your dog is on a leash most of the time, you probably won’t lose it, but you never know. Plus, the leash or collar could be damaged or lost. Unless your dog is very well-trained, you should have extras on hand.
Pictures and Documents
In case your dog is lost, you’ll want a few good pictures that you can show to people. You should also make copies of your vet health records and vaccination documents in case the ones back at home are destroyed.
Since most dogs have plenty of fur, a dog sweater is only necessary if you’re in a particularly cold area or are forced to bug out in the middle of winter.
You could also purchase a dog evacuation kit such as this one. Just be warned that it doesn’t include everything mentioned above.
Items Needed for a Cat Bug Out Bag
In many ways, a bug out bag for a cat is quite similar to a bug out bag for a dog. However, there are a few key differences. One important difference is that a cat will not be able to carry its own bug out bag, meaning that you will have to carry it yourself.
For that matter, given most cats’ utter disregard for obeying commands, you’ll probably have to carry the cat itself in a cat carrier.
The good news is that, since cats are smaller, you should be able to pack a much lighter bag than is required for a dog. As for what to put in a cat’s bug out bag, here are the items you should consider:
No animal can go without food, cats included. Since you won’t be using a saddlebag, weight distribution of food and water for a cat’s bug out bag isn’t a concern.
However, saving space and keeping weight down still is, so you may want to pack food in a large Ziploc bag rather than taking an entire bag of food. If you have cans without a pull tab, don’t forget a can opener.
Another essential is water, so be sure to throw in a couple bottles of water in your cat’s bug out bag.
Collapsible Food and Water Bowls
Giving a cat food and water out of your hands isn’t any easier than giving it to a dog, so be sure to invest in collapsible bowls.
Instead of packing your cat’s litter box and taking up more space than you can really afford, create a makeshift litter box using an old shoe box and a plastic grocery sack to line it with.
Like with dogs, you will want to bring along any medications your cat is taking as well as medications they might need in their new environment such as flea and tick medication.
Cats don’t react well to stressful situations. To help calm your cat in a bug out scenario, pack along a bottle of Feliway spray. Feliway spray can be used to calm distressed cats and can curb unwanted behavior such as biting, scratching and urinating.
Leash and Harness With ID Tags
Since cats can easily slip out of most collars, you’ll need to put your cat in a harness. It also doesn’t hurt to have an extra leash and ID tags.
Pictures and Documents
Cats are easily frightened, so during an evacuation, they are liable to slip away and make a run for it. In case that happens, you should have some pictures that you can show to people.
It’s also a good idea to have copies of your cat’s vet records and vaccination documents in case the originals are destroyed in a flood or fire.
In addition to Feliway spray, other comfort items you may want to consider bringing along for your cat include cat toys, cat treats, and grooming supplies. In the end, having items such as these on hand will make a bug out scenario less stressful for both you and your feline friend.
You also have the option to purchase a cat evacuation kit. This one has several great items, but it doesn’t include everything listed above.