This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase I get a commission. Please see my About page for full disclosure.
I’m firmly of the opinion that when you bring an animal into your home you are responsible for them for the rest of their lives. Unlike people who will (theoretically) eventually grow up and move out, your pets are dependent on you for their care their whole life long. So it’s important to remember to think about care for your animals in good times and bad. I’m not going to go into normal daily care – that should be part of your homework before ever getting a pet. But I am going to show you what I have put by for my animals in case of an emergency.
Preps masquerading as every day items
Just like with human preps, a lot of the stuff we have for the pets we use fairly regularly. We have carriers for both cats. We have leashes and a harness for the Wonder Dog. (The harness is great – it comes with saddlebags, so he can carry his own water, etc. We use it when we go hiking.) We have tons of towels, which are so versatile. Use them to wrap up an injured animal so they can’t bite or scratch you. Use them to line the cat carrier or the backseat of the car. Drape them over a line strung between two trees to create a makeshift tent. You can also use them for normal stuff like, yanno, drying things.
I also keep extra food on hand. I buy the big bags of food. When I open them I pour them into an airtight container so they won’t go bad. I keep a couple bags on hand by buying extra when I can, then every time I open a bag I buy another one. Then I use the oldest bag first and always have an extra couple months’ food for the fuzzies. I also make sure to have extra treats so they aren’t deprived should there be a supply disruption.
Have your pets’ vet records easy to grab. I have a folder in the office that has the latest vaccination records and evidence that all three of my boys are neutered. If you can find a shelter that allows pets you’ll need to have evidence of their vaccination status and whether or not they’re fixed. Have pictures of your pets included with their records in case they go missing.
Make sure your pets have ID – both microchip and collar. I have to admit, I don’t collar the cats. They just pull them off every time I try and they’re both indoor cats (except for the occasional supervised field trip to the fenced yard). But, both are microchipped and registered at both the vet’s and with an online service. The Wonder Dog is both chipped and wears a tag with our contact information on it along with the rabies tag and dog license.
For this we use 5-gallon buckets with Gamma Seal lids (they’re easy to open and seal watertight). These are in addition to our normal First Aid items, which can double for pets and humans.
- Books on dog/cat first aid – read them now so you know what to do if you ever need to use the information!
- Vet wrap is one of the best things ever! It keeps wound dressings in place without pulling fur. (Works great on humans, too.) We recently had to keep the Wonder Dog from licking his wounds after a groundhog encounter. (Alas it didn’t end well for the groundhog.) Vet wrap made it so easy to care for the bite (thankfully he’d *just* had his rabies booster, and no signs of rabies in the groundhog). We have 2″ and 3″ sizes.
- Scissors – useful, practical
- Muzzle – our dog is super sweet to people, but not so much other dogs. Were we ever to go to a shelter that accepted dogs he’d need a muzzle.
- Syringes – not the kind with needles, but the kind with plastic tips. We have a bunch in different sizes. When I rescued Jack as a kitten I used one to feed him. They’re also great for getting medicine into animals.
- Fish antibiotics – yeah, that sounds weird. If we couldn’t get to a vet for a significant amount of time these might come in handy. They’re essentially the same thing you’d buy from a pharmacist for a human, but they’re packaged differently. Know what you’re doing before you use these. We have some really good notes on dosages and Mr. WPW is knowledgeable about their uses.
- If your animals are on any other medicines, make sure you have extras just like you would for your own emergency kit.
- Disposable litter boxes (not pictured)
What to do with your pets in an emergency
This is a toughie and really depends on the emergency. If you’re “bugging out” with no expectation of returning, what would you do with your pets? Sure, I can take Wonder Dog with me most places, but what about the cats? They wail on a trip to the vet, much less on a long trip to who-knows-where. Lucky for us is our home is our bug-in location, but that’s no guarantee we’ll never have to leave our home in an emergency.
Think about where you’d go in a crisis. Most emergency shelters won’t accept pets. What are you going to do if you have to leave your home suddenly and the only place you can stay won’t allow your pets?
Letting them out to fend for themselves is not a good option. Neither of my cats have lived wild for more than a few months as kittens, and Jack is blind. Wonder Dog would probably do better on his own, but I’d rather cut off my arm than abandon him. What about people who have small dogs who can’t walk long distances? Or birds, lizards, or fish? You also can’t just put down extra food and hope that you get home before it runs out, or that your home isn’t destroyed, as in the Louisiana flooding. That’s not any kind of guarantee of their well-being.
You could board your animals at a kennel. If you have to bug out, take them with you and when you get to a safe area find a kennel (or even a vet may help) who can take your animals until you’re able to go home. Or, maybe friends/family can take them for a short period of time. Having a list of pet-friendly hotels in your area is also very useful!
Pets as positives in an emergency
Pets may seem like a lot of work in a disaster. They’re by definition not working animals (like livestock guardian dogs or barn cats) or livestock. That’s not to say that they have no use.
- Portable heaters – my animals are great snugglers!
- Can be trained/used as working animals – if your dog can learn to shake paws, he can learn to any number of useful tricks. Your cats can help keep vermin out of your food storage.
- Therapy – if things are going south you can bet there’s going to be a lot of stress. Pets can help you relax and can be a calming influence.
- A reason to keep going – this probably won’t make sense to those who don’t suffer from depression, but sometimes one of my most powerful tools in shaking the monkey off my back is knowing my animals need me to care for them. On those really dark days I have to get out of bed and at least somewhat dressed to take the dog out for a walk, for example. I bet the number of people experiencing depression will skyrocket if things are bad.
- Alarm systems – although the Wonder Dog isn’t the best alert dog, the cats usually give me a heads up any time someone’s coming up the drive by high-tailing it for the bedroom. And WD might be late to the party with alerts, but once he realizes someone’s there he’s barking his fool head off – and it’s LOUD. He’s a marvelous deterrent.
Prepping for your pets requires a little thought and effort, but won’t it be such a relief to have them safely cared for should anything happen? What other things would you stock up on for your pets?