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How to Make a Dog "Go-Bag"

by Shawn Barrington 01 Jan 2024

Many pets get left behind in a disaster situation. As you prepare your family for an emergency don't forget about your favorite 4-legged friends. Pets are members of the family as well. Having a packed and ready-to-go bug-out bag for your pets will make getting to safety a snap. As a general rule dogs can carry one-third of their body weight. This means your 50 lbs pooch can carry roughly 16.5 lbs. The larger the dog the more they can carry. The Greater Swiss Mountain dog, for example, was bred to pull heavy carts. If you have a small breed, 15 lbs or less you'll need a to get a pet carrier. Something to make carrying your small dog or cat easier. A carrier will keep them safe and calm during transport. Large dogs can carry their own supplies in a dog designed saddle bag. This will save weight and space in your own emergency pack.

You'll want to get a comfortable dog backpack. Most dogs don't like wearing them at first. Put the pack on your dog empty and have them wear it around the house, then go for a short walk. Later try a hike with a water bottle on each side. Dogs will get used to the pack in no time and will look forward to the adventure. Some people walk larger high energy dogs with a heavy backpack all the time. This will drain the dog's energy much faster than a standard walk around the block. Working breeds love to work and do best with a job. Keep your dog's bag packed and ready to go. Keep it with your other emergency supplies. This will make an evacuation quick and easy.  

Pets are known to act strangely during a natural disaster. They can alert you to the coming storm. Once you are aware there is an emergency you'll want to keep as calm as possible. Pets can pick up on your fear and panic. A thunder shirt or anxiety wrap an help keep them relax during a crisis. You can use an ace bandage to make an anxiety wrap at home. Similar to swaddling a newborn baby, the tight wrap helps the animal feel safe.  

Put 2-3 days of dog or cat food in your pet's go bag. If they take prescription medication you'll want some extra to keep on hand. Have your vet print out an up to date medical record to keep in the bag. Are there any special a new veterinarian should know about your pet's health? Bring their favorite toy and treats this will keep them relaxed and make the new environment feel more like home. For dogs keep an extra leash with a carabiner. A strong carabiner allows you to easier attach your dog to your belt or backpack for hands-free travel. It can also be used as a tie down around a fence post when stopping for a rest.

Pet Bug Out Bag

  • dog backpack
  • water bottle with bowl
  • food bowl
  • 2 or 3 days of pet food
  • high quality treats to reward and calm your pet
  • thunder shirt or ace bandage
  • prescription medication
  • extra leash with carabiner
  • favorite toy
  • favorite treat
  • cat or small dog carrier
  • vaccination and medical records

What steps have you taken to prepare your pets for a disaster?  Photo Credit:

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