Pets are extensions of our family and we need to incorporate them into our prepping plans. With this article I hope to give you some good ideas to do just that. I am going to focus on the two most common household pets: dogs and cats. We have two dogs and four cats, all of which spend a majority of time inside with us.
Our pets have the same survival requirements as us. Shelter/Protection should be a top priority for your pet. In the event of a natural or man-made disaster you should try to bring your outside pets in for safety. They SHOULD NOT be left outside in a snowstorm, tornado, etc. Even if you put them in the garage or a bathroom, that’s more secure than outside. If your pet is out during adverse weather you might want to pick up a jacket for them. Dogs and cats, just like humans, are mammals and can fall prey to hypothermia. Watch your pet closely and never let them run unattended in extreme weather conditions. If their clothing gets soaked it should be removed. Watch for signs of sluggishness, lack of appetite, and other warning signs. For movement over rough terrain dog booties might be handy to have. Fido may not be keen to the idea so you may want to ease him into it by placing baby socks on his feet until he gets used to it. Dog booties provide additional protection from harmful chemicals, abrasions, and cuts then just their bare pads alone.
Water, especially here in Texas, is a top priority as well. We store water in 2 liter bottles for humans to drink. You should store a week or so for ALL your pets to drink from just in case, separate from the human supply.
We have a filter for our use to obtain water on the go, but there is no reason you can’t use the same filter to replenish water for your pets. Just like us, pets have about 3 days without water to survive. It would also be a good idea to have a bowl for drinking and feeding with your supplies.
Food; Pets cannot eat the same foods as us. It’s best to buy foods for them and store it in plastic containers to keep it fresher. The pet food bags are nice, but once open do not re-seal causing a problem for keeping their food fresh. If you have or have access to a vacuum sealer, you can bag and seal some of their food to store long-term or take with you in case of a bug out situation.
First Aid Care of your pets is essential. Make sure before anything happens that you regularly keep their shots updated and vet visits current. It is highly unlikely that a vet will be available during an emergency so you should learn how to treat your animals yourself. A good place to start is this book. It will walk you through step by step on how to care for your pets. You also want to obtain some supplies such as:
Training/Practice is important for you and your pets. Take your pets with you during Outdoor Activities, especially if they are not used to it. Hikes, Camping trips, etc are good ways to introduce your animals to something different. It is also essential for pets to stay in shape just like it is for us. Taking your dog on a 5 mile hike might not be so good if they are overweight, out of shape, and used to just running out of the house to go to the bathroom. You want to gradually build up to longer and more strenuous activity. Just pursue an exercise regimen, like you would for yourself. Start small and work up to big. Just like in my whats in my backpack and prepper fitness articles, make sure and pack for your pet the essentials they need with them to survive in the conditions they might encounter. Also try to go out in all conditions and in all seasons. Most dogs can carry their own weight in gear but as stated before gradually build up to heavier loads and longer distances, just like in backpacking. A good choice of pack might be here. We have one of each for our dogs and they enjoy walking with them. Defensive or other types of training will not be mentioned in the scope of this article, but might be mentioned in another later on.
All in all, our pets are our family members and we should treat them as such and care for their needs. Work with them and add them to your prepping plans as valuable members and contributors to everyone’s well-being! Thank you for reading! Happy Prepping!