HEALTH & CARE

Dog Survival Kit: Vital Items for Emergency Situations

Emergency bag for dogs
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Knowing how to pack a dog survival kit is a very important skill for a dog owner. No one can predict just when and where a disaster can occur especially now when storms, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes just seem to be happening more frequently than before. Preparing yourself for any type of calamity is a must but sometimes we tend to forget our pet’s needs, too. It is a common misconception that since a dog is just an animal they can survive even with the least amount of assistance during emergencies.

Although this is true in some points, our pets can also need some extraordinary care in some instances. There are some important things to keep in mind when packing this kit. First, it should be easy for you to find and carry when the need arises. Second, it should contain fresh or unexpired supplies and up-to-date information. Lastly, it must be able to address any special need that your dog might have such as an allergy or a medical condition. The type of supplies that you may need can also vary depending upon the kind of emergency situation that you will most likely be in.

For example, if you are going on a hiking trip then your kit would likely contain fish hooks and flexible saws whereas this would seem unnecessary if you are living in the city and preparing for an earthquake.

Doggie bug out bag

Bag – the best types of bags for survival kits are those that have durable materials and as many pockets as possible with a sturdy stitching. The choice between a backpack and a travel bag depends on which is more comfortable for you to carry. You can choose from nylon to plastic and you can also choose the size depending on how much supply you need although the recommended size is that which you can easily grab when disaster strikes.

You also have to consider the person who will be carrying this pack.  For instance, if you are quite older or are disabled then you would only be able to carry a light and compact kit compared to a mountaineer who could carry a heavier bag. You can also have your dog carry their own survival kit through a dog backpack or a harness where you can attach side-packs. It would be best if you can find waterproof materials or if you can wrap them in a plastic bag.

Food – the most recommended food to pack for a survival kit are dry kibble since they don’t need a lot of space and are also lighter to carry. But, if you are health conscious and would like to keep your dog as healthy as possible then you can try to dehydrate and vacuum-seal your own dog food such as dried chicken, fruits, and vegetables. You will need to add water to these foods though before your dog can eat them.

Canned dog food on the other hand is much heavier but they taste better and they contain moisture which can cut down the need for water. Pack foods that your dog is used to and bring enough that can last for at least two or three days. Small dogs require ½ cup per serving, mediums need 2 to 3 cups, while large and giant breeds will need from 4 to 6 cups of food for each meal.

Dog food for healthy dog

Water – you can buy several emergency water packets or you can just opt for those contained in water gallons. There are advantages and disadvantages for each. Water packets are much easier to pack and contain just the exact amount that your dog would need.  Purified water in gallons on the other hand is definitely heavier to carry and the content can get contaminated once you open it. But you can also refill them once your supply runs out unlike with water packets.

Your dog will need about an ounce of water for each 10 pounds of weight. Their water needs can increase if you are feeding them dry food or when the temperature is warm. Make sure to give them water when engaging in physical activities or during each meal.

Blanket – this will be important if you and your dog would not be able to get a good shelter to sleep in. The blanket will ensure that your pet will be warm and comfortable even if sleeping conditions are not that good such as on the streets or under a tree. Thick blankets are more preferred since they can also protect them from slight drizzles or snow.

Water and food bowls – of course you can let your dog eat from a flat surface but you will need a bowl so he or she could drink. But if you prefer to let your dog eat from a clean surface then bringing your own bowls will be the best. You can take disposable containers with lids or you can buy collapsible dog food bowls which can be more costly. As for drinking bowls, there are also dog water bottles which come with a large cap or bowl where you can pour the water directly. Never squirt water on your dog’s mouth as this can get to their lungs and it is also wasteful.

Dog water and food bowls

Plastic garbage bags – these can be used for packing up your dog’s things, as a bed insulator, or for building a temporary shelter for your dog. You can also use them as your pet’s poncho in case of a storm or heavy rain. You can also bring dog poop bags if you think that you will need them such as if you will be staying in the city or a crowded shelter.

Treats, snacks, energy bars – aside from your dog’s daily ration for food, you will also need to carry some snacks and treats for them. Just like you, they will get tired of eating the same food everyday so giving them a few treats will help eliminate the monotony of their diet. Since most of these are compact sources of energy, it can also help address their added nutritional need especially since evacuating can be a stressful situation for them.

Matches, light sticks, and flint – you will need these items in case of blackouts especially if it would take days before power supply is resumed. Light sticks are good for providing hours of minimal brightness and you can also tie them around your dog’s collar or harness so you can easily point out where they are during the night. Matches and flint are for making fire and as a backup in case you lost yours or if they got wet. You would definitely need a source of warmth especially if you will be sleeping outdoors.

First aid kit – you can buy one from your local drug store or you can make your own by getting a first aid book, bandages, gauze pads, vet wraps, antiseptic wipes and rinses, small blunt-ended scissors, medical adhesives, antibiotic creams, hydrogen peroxide, iodine solutions, tweezers, milk of magnesia, styptic powder, cooling and heating pads, saline solutions for your pet’s eyes, and other items that you may need for emergency medical situations.

Medications – this is different from the first aid kit as this would contain specific drugs and medicines that your dog needs. These include allergy medications, treatments for specific conditions such as arthritis or diabetes, and health supplements. Pack them in small containers and make sure to indicate the name, dosage, and expiry date for each.

Hygiene products – disasters can unleash a variety of health risks for you and your dog so maintaining a good hygiene is really important. Since water resources can be minimal, it is important to use products that will not require a lot of water for rinsing. Leave-on dog shampoos as well as wipes for their paws will help eliminate bacterial infections or the presence of allergens on their fur and skin. Oral rinses which can be added to their drinking water will help maintain their oral hygiene with minimal fuss.

Dog bed – when packing for a survival kit, choose one that is light and can be rolled up so you can just easily stick it inside the bag. Although this can be considered as a “luxury,” this is actually one of the things that your dog will need the most.

Cold, damp, and dirty surfaces are not good for your dog to sleep on and it can affect their health and quality of sleep. This in turn will lead to infections and illness since lack of sleep affects their immune system. Make sure to train your pet to get used to the bed beforehand so they will be familiar and comfortable with it when the time comes for them to use it.

Dog bed

Important documents – during times of natural disasters and emergencies, you may be required to move out of your home into a designated shelter. Since your pet may be sent to an animal shelter, you have to provide all necessary documents such as those for shots and vaccines and licenses so they would know that your dog does not have any contagious disease or ailment that can be a problem in the shelter. You also need to carry with you your pet’s photos just in case they get lost and you need some way to identify them.

Leash, rope, and collar – these are all to help you restrain your dog or tie them in a tree or a pole. Dogs tend to get stressed and anxious in times of natural disasters and they could wander away if you don’t have them on a leash. You will need the extra collar just in case the old one gets broken and the rope is for tying them at night. Just make sure that they have ample space to move around.

Paw protection

Dog clothes – this will depend on the type of climate you are in. If you are staying in a colder climate and if your dog does not have a sufficient amount of fur to keep them warm, you will need at least one dog jacket, a pair of dog booties, and a pair of socks. The jacket will help keep them warm during the day and the socks and booties will help protect their feet from ice and sharp frozen objects. Those in warmer temperatures can do with a dog vest made of mesh to help keep them cool.

Dog toys – to help your dog cope with the strange surroundings and situations that they are in, it would be of help if you can bring one or two of their favorite toys. This will help divert and reduce their anxiety and help them become less aggressive and irritable. Toys can provide a bit of comfort for your pet especially if you will be leaving them in a shelter or on a friend’s home.

Dog toys for emeregency

Being in an emergency situation such as during earthquakes, storms and floods can be a very stressful situation for you, your family, and your dog. You can help ease your dog’s stress by preparing what your dog will need through a survival kit.

This way, they will not have to face the lack of essential elements such as food, water, and a comfortable sleep in case these needs come in short supply or when you have to sleep in a shelter or out in the streets. Make sure that you also bring important documents such as certificates of vaccinations just in case the shelter requires it from you.

Packed dog things

Caring and looking out for your dog’s well-being during times of natural calamities is one of your responsibilities as their owner. Never leave your pet dog alone when have to move out of your home in these types of emergency situations as they cannot fend for themselves.

A lot of them can end up with injuries, malnutrition, diseases, or even death since they usually cannot judge whether they are getting into a dangerous situation or not. Prepare the things that they would need for these types of emergencies early on so that when disaster strikes, you can easily get yourself and your pet out into safety.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Charlotte Queens

    This is an excellent article, especially with today’s extreme weather conditions. Will share with family and friends who will appreciate all the useful information.

  • Thanks for the compliment, Charlotte! It is really important to understand dog safety and survival especially during these weather conditions.

  • John

    I have bought and tried the top paw dog boots, and I think it’s so essential for the protection of my dog’s paws…But how do I keep them on? Every time I turn around he’s removed them in some way! Are there any tricks to training dogs to keep these boots on?

    • John Walton

      Often times they can get uncomfortable wearing the dog boots but they’ll get used to it. Just make sure that you got the correct snug-fit size to make sure that the circulation is not compromised.

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