Building A Pet Survival Kit
Taking a look at the preparedness efforts of the average American prepper, most of the basics are well taken care of. Even some of the more advanced areas like alternative energy or aquaponics are covered by some. With that said, not every area is always well covered by everyone. Acknowledging that all pets should be cared for, good times or not, what seems to sometimes slip by is a plan to care for our pets.
If you are not already planning how you will care for your pet in the event of a disaster, you are behind the power curve. We would all like to think that if we have a pet, we have done this already but sometimes among the beans, bullets, and band-aids this is an area that is forgotten.
Buckle Up! Statistics ahead.
- According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the estimate of dogs who are owned as pets in the United States is 70-80 million and pet cats come in at 74-96 million. Approximately 37-47% of households have a pet dog and 30-37% of households have a pet cat.
- Taking the median value of the percentages of households containing dog and cat owners and averaging them together, approximately 37.75% of households in America have a dog or cat for a pet.
- Doing the same with the number of dogs and cats that are pets in America, there are approximately 80,000,000 pet dogs and cats. This number doesn’t even account for the birds, fish, reptiles, rodents, etc. It is only my personal opinion but I think that depending on what the disaster is, some of these less popular pets may just have to be left behind. I cannot imagine trying to get out of dodge with a fish aquarium.
- Assuming that the estimate of 3% of the American population are “preppers” is correct, there are approximately 3,644,385 prepper households that should include pet preparedness as part of their overall preparedness strategy.
While a pet can be comforting to any person or family, a pet can be especially comforting to a child during a traumatic time. Additionally, a pet is not only a comfort to you and the family, your pet could be an asset during a collapse. The advantage that comes to the front of my mind is the help a pet can be with your personal security and defense. There is something about the presence of a dog especially that can alter a person’s behavior if they wish to do you harm.
Obviously there is an established need for a preparedness plan for your pet, so where should we begin?
I actually intend to cover pet survival kits from two perspectives, staying in place and bugging out. As a result, This will actually end up being two separate kits. It may be presumptuous but I am going to assume that most people will be dealing with a dog, cat, or both. If you have other pets, you may have to make some adjustments to what you put in your pet survival kit.
Here are some of the areas that you should consider when planning for your pets survival alongside your own:
Pet Survival Kit (Staying In Place)
- CONTAINER – It can be beneficial to have a dedicated container for your home based pet survival kit. While there are many options available, a storage trunk (we called them “tough boxes” in the military because they held up to everything as we moved them around the world) is one of the best options out there. Having everything consolidated into one container is very beneficial for organization but also convenient if you have to load up and go somewhere.
- FOOD – Feeding your pet when the supply system is interrupted is not as simple as just providing your leftover scraps to your pet. All animals have nutritional needs that are unique from those of humans, and each other. Think about how you have planned to store food for yourself. Start with a week of pet food and move up from there, trying to match your own food storage. Keep in mind that cheap dry food has a tendency to go bad faster than high quality dry food and canned food will last the longest. If you store canned food for your pet, ensure that you keep an extra hand can opener around.
- WATER – This does not have to be separate from the water your are already storing, just remember to store extra for your pet. I don’t know that there is a clear guideline for how much water is right for Fido or Whiskers so use your best judgement.
- BOWLS – You may want to include a couple of extra bowls in the event that you need to load up and go. Something lightweight that does not take up too much space is ideal.
- MEDICATIONS – This can be prescription medications but should also include medicines that many pets need like dewormers as well as monthly flea and tick treatments. For the monthly treatments, it is common to be able to obtain a six month supply at one time which should be a good baseline for medication to keep on hand at home.
- SUPPLEMENTS – These should match up with the amount of food you have set aside for your pet. While not necessarily a requirement, supplements can help keep your pet in the best shape possible in all circumstances.
- POOPY PROBLEMS – Animals have bodily functions that must be dealt with. Don’t forget to stock up on litter, an extra litter box (consider the idea of a plastic box with a lid to contain things), litter scoop, garbage bags, dog poop bags (I use my old plastic shopping bags), stain or odor removers, etc.
- COLLAR & LEASH – It’s probably a good idea to have an extra collar and leash on hand. Don’t forget to get an extra identification tag (should at a minimum include the animal’s name and your contact number) for the collar.
- TREATS – Some pet treats can be something to help your pet do something that you want it to but it can also be useful
- RECORDS – The most important records that you can have for your pet on hand are an up to date record of vaccinations and a copy of the animal’s microchip number (your pet should have one, even if it is only in the event that they run away). If you are able to, and have room, also include a copy of any of your pet’s pertinent medical records. A good practice to mitigate the chances of these records being ruined is to keep them in a waterproof storage bag. Don’t forget to include a picture of each of your pets in the event they are lost or so that you can claim them from a shelter.
- UPKEEP – If things go south, you will likely be on your own to provide your pet with the basic grooming services that you may currently outsource. Some items to consider include a deciding brush, nail trimmers, hair clippers, ear and eye cleaners, shampoo, dental care treatments, etc.
- PROTECTIVE GARMENTS – Most animals have all the protection they need from their natural coats but if you live in (or plan on going to) an extreme environment, it could be advantageous to include protective clothing or foot covers for your pet.
- LIFE JACKET – It may seem like an unlikely need but if you live in an area where you may have to evacuate because of flooding you may want to include a specialty life jacket for your animal companion.
Pet Survival Kit (Bugging Out)
- CONTAINER – One of the best ways to ensure that your pet survival kit is ready to go in the event of an evacuation is to put it into it’s own bag, placing an extra leash on the outside for easy access, and placing it with the rest of the family’s bug out bags. While almost any duffel bag, suitcase, or backpack could be used, a bag with a good weight capacity that is easy to carry, or roll on wheels, is a great bonus. If you are a dog owner, one of the ways that your pet can help you out is by carrying part of their own survival kit using their own backpack.
- FOOD – At a minimum, keep three days worth of food for your pet in their bog out kit. If you have the space, and the weight is not too much, try to keep at least a week worth of food. Evaluate your options carefully; dry food may be lighter but will take up more space and canned food may be heavier but it will also be more compact in many cases.
- WATER – A couple of bottles of water should be the minimum amount of water that is available to your pet when you are on the move. It may even be worth considering the idea of having an extra water filter or water treatment tablets to provide additional safe drinking water for your animal friend.
- BOWLS – You will have to have some sort of container for food and water. There are many options available but perhaps the best option for a pet survival kit is a set of these lightweight, collapsible bowls.
- MEDICATIONS – If your pet is on prescription medication you should ensure that you have at least a few days worth of their medicine in this kit. This only applies to medication that is long term. There is probably no need to include meds that are only needed for a short period of time in the kit itself. Don’t forget to rotate any medications to ensure that they are always as effective as they should be.
- LEASH – One of the things that I have personally done is get a slip lead for my dog that allows me to get her quickly, even if she got her collar off somehow. Either way, have an extra leash in your pet’s kit, just in case.
- VEHICLE SAFETY HARNESS – If you find yourself in a position where you are relocating to get away from a threat, you may be operating under circumstances that increase the risk of injury to your dog or cause undue distraction to the vehicle operator. Consider getting a vehicle safety harness for your dog to minimize the potential risks that your pet is exposed to.
- RECORDS – It may be obvious but don’t keep the The records that should be a part of any portable pet survival kit include a copy Vaccination Record, ID Chip Number, and Rabies Tag Number at a minimum. It is also a good idea to have one of the waterproof bags mentioned above.
- CARRIER – Dependent upon where you are headed to, it may be beneficial to have a way to contain your pet. The natural selection is a pet carrier/kennel. This can be important for both the safety of others and your pet. I can only imagine that there may be some people who might be quick to take action against an animal that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- POOPY PROBLEMS – Just like your home kit, ensure that you account for the fact that your animal friend is going to continue to have bodily functions. This may be an even more important point of consideration for animals bugging out compared to animals staying at home.
- COMFORT ITEMS – As funny as it may sound, some pets have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal as an example. It can’t hurt to have an extra of these items to ensure that your pet remains as comfortable as possible during a stressful time. Another way to ensure your dog’s comfort is through the use of a Thundershirt to avoid anxiety.
- TOYS – If your pet is used to playing, it is a good idea to have a couple of toys in your kit. Most dogs that like to play fetch would really love to have a tennis ball launcher. They even make mini launchers that would be perfect for a portable pet survival kit. This is also a great way for your pet to expend some energy. If nothing else, it will assist with keeping your pet entertained.
- TREATS – Having a few treats might be a good idea. One idea might be to have a couple of bones or chews so that your pet will remain occupied.
- PROTECTIVE GARMENTS/LIFE JACKET – Just like I mentioned for the home kit, you should evaluate the are that you are in and determine if there is a need for any protective garments, a life jacket, or both. This may not need to be doubled up if you are going to bug out by loading up your home based kit.
While there are many similarities in these two kit designs, they both are aimed at serving two different purposes. Start by putting together at least one of these kits and as everything else in your preparedness priorities begins to come together, you might even want to build the other kit as well. You could keep your pet’s bug out bag in the car while your home kit sits with your stuff to bug in or load up and go. The bottom line is that something should be done to ensure that your pet is taken care of in the event of a disaster.
What else would you include in your pet survival kit?