Today’s guest writer is Stacy Mantle, Founder of PetsWeekly. Stacy is writing about how to make a “go bag” for your dog. (DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links)
September is National Preparedness Month and National Pet Disaster Month. The goal of this month is to make sure you and your pets are prepared for any type of emergency.
We never really think something bad can happen to us. No one expects to wake up to a fire in their living room, or tornado appearing across a field. We don’t like to think of a national security emergency or an earthquake. Even a massive power failure or gas leak could results in evacuation. We’ve seen these events happen again and again.
Failure to prepare is often a failure to survive. This is why we hear so many stories of pets being left behind when their owners are forced to move. Creating a Go Bag for your pets is just one way of ensuring that neither you nor your pets are victims.
What is a Go Bag?
A Go Bag is a “grab and go” bag that you don’t have to worry about because it already contains 3-days of everything you and your pets will need to weather that storm or evacuate your home. No matter where you live, this is something that each member of your family (including your pets) should have.
Store them in a closet and make sure every family member knows where they are.
What to Include in Your Go Bag
Every good Go Bag starts with the best way to transport your pet. If you have a small dog, you may want to store their Go Bag in a rolling carrier that you can also use for transporting your pet.
If you have larger dogs (at least 50 lbs), like me, you may want them to be able to carry their own supplies, which makes a daypack a great option. We like the Ruffwear Palisades Multi-Day pack for dogs as it allows us to fill the internal saddlebags with water and helps to easily distribute the weight for your dog. Remember to replace the water in the pack each month and follow directions to keep the water safe.
Water: Every pet needs to have access to enough clean water to carry them through 3 days. There are many ways to do this. You may want to stock up on water pouches that you can distribute between you and your pets’ go bags. These are pre-packaged and designed to last for years. There is also canned water available, but it can quickly become too heavy for you or your pets to carry.
Life Straws are another option for you to obtain water for yourself, which allows you to carry extra water for pets. These lightweight straws can turn any type of water into filtered water.
Plan on carrying ½ – 1 oz of water per pound of bodyweight. If you have a 10 lb dog, you’ll need to carry 5-10 ozs of water per day. If you have a 50-lb dog, you need to have at least a 1.5 liters of water per day, per dog.
Keep in mind that a liter of water will weigh about 2.2 lbs. Your dog’s pack should not weigh more than 10-25% of your dog’s weight – and most dogs will need to train to carry that amount.
Food: You will need to carry a 3-day supply of dog food for your pets. You’ll want to make sure the food is something they are accustomed to eating and easy on their stomach, since stress levels will be high.
Dehydrated foods, like The Honest Kitchen, are ideal for these kits. However, if you plan to pack dehydrated food, be sure you add more water to your rations. It’s always a good idea to toss in a few treats to help keep your dogs calm in a shelter or on a bus.
Collapsible Bowls: Collapsible bowls are the best way to keep the weight down in an emergency. Choose one that is easy to clean and as light as possible. These silicone bowls are easy to clip on your belt.
Medication: Keep a 3-day supply of any active prescription medications or supplements. If possible, pack these in the original bottle or consider repackaging them yourself. You should make sure they are packed in water-tight packaging. Be sure you include any heartworm medication and/or flea/tick spray to protect your pets and yourself.
Identification: Keep a copy of your pets records on you and in the go-bag. This includes:
- Copy of microchip data
- Copy of vaccination records
- Emergency contacts
- Recent photographs (preferably standing next to you) that clearly identifies your pets markings and shows ownership.
These documents will help you prove ownership in the event you and your pets are separated. We like to keep them in one place and use the My Dog’s Health and ID Records passport, then place it in a double-sealed plastic sandwich bag in our dog’s pack.
Cleaning Supplies: While it may not seem important now, you will be grateful you thought of including the following items:
- Clean wipes – use an all-natural, extra thick brand.
- Doggy bags – try to stay with an eco-friendly brand like this one.
- Towel – choose an ultra absorbent, lightweight brand (we prefer microfiber).
- Leash: We recommend you have a leash that attaches to you and still offers about 6-feet of lead. The 6-in1 Quantum leash from Kurgo is one of our favorite leashes for this situation.
- Harness: Harnesses are much more reliable than collars in an emergency situation, and also gives you more control over your pet. They are also much safer to wear in the car. Choose one that has been crash-tested and is reliable in an emergency, like these harnesses from Ruffwear.
- Muzzle: Most public transportation and shelters will not allow dogs in at all unless they are under control and muzzled. This is especially true for large dogs. No matter what your plans, having a basket muzzle available for your pet may mean the difference between life and death. Make sure your pet is accustomed to wearing a muzzle.
This is largely dependent on where you live and the types of disaster you may face. For example, in the desert, we make sure to have a set of protective doggy boots for our dogs as the pavement reaches in excess of 180 degrees, resulting in severe burns.
Depending on your region and the amount you have to carry, a small first-aid kit is always a good idea.
One last thing to consider is a pet collar LED safety night light that your dog can wear on his collar.
A favorite toy or soft blanket can mean the world to your pet in a stressful situation. Consider a small comfort item or treat to help make the days go a little faster.
Depending on where you will be staying during the emergency or potential evacuation, turn on DOGTV to help calm your dog while you are in an unfamiliar location with unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells. This comfort from home will enrich his environment and help calm him.
The goal of a 3-day bag is to survive for 3 days with no other resources. Only you know will know what that means to you and your dog(s). Be careful not to go overboard, as you will need to assume that you or your dog will be carrying their supplies.
Pets are family. Make sure your dogs are just as prepared as you are for any emergency situation. And while you’re packing their go-bag, be sure you prepare your own!