You may have a years worth of food and water stored for you and the family, but what about for your dog or cat? I know some of you may be asking yourself “why have pets in a SHTF”? Personally I wonder why you wouldn’t? Sure they are another mouth to feed and more waste to dispose of, but you forget about the benefits. Dogs are one of the best security guards you could have. Dogs have much better hearing and sense of smell than us that they can sense other people and animals in the area long before we will. The barking and growling of your protective pet may also deter people from trying to take your preps. Cats may not deter people from raiding your food, but they can keep mice and rats from getting into your stuff. One other benefit that everyone overlooks, comfort and normalcy in a very stressful situation. When it hits the fan, having the comfort of your furry companion may bring you or especially your kids a normal relaxation and peace of mind at times.
Prepping for your pets is no different than prepping for you, only items oriented for your pet. Your pet requires food, water, and medicine like anyone else only modified for them. Dogs generally require more food and water than cats, not just because of size difference. Dogs require a high protein diet to keep up on their energy for as active as they are. Unfortunately it is the high protein or crude proteins in dry dog food that make it hard to store for long term. There are a few specialty long term storage dog and cat foods out there, but they are quite a bit of money such as a 30lb tub of 15 year storage food by Legacy Food Storage.
The problem with the protein and dry food is that it is only dried about enough to avoid mold, but if you try to vacuum seal it, it will go rancid in the package. Not sealing the dry food and just leaving it in the factory package on the shelf causes it to dry and harden over time till it’s hard as rock. Optimally, canned food is the cheapest long term storage option. Now don’t go out and buy a bunch of canned dog or cat food unless your pet already eats it, switching them to it suddenly without it being used to it can cause diarrhea which will dehydrate your pet and possibly give them an agonizing death. Also relying on your pet to live off the land is a no go as well. It is quite possible and more than likely that most areas will be over hunted over time and letting your pets hunt for their own food will just cause it sooner. Leaving your animal to hunt for it’s own food may bring out their “primal” instincts and become dangerous to you and your family just like in the survival fiction story, One Second After, by William R. Forstchen. I have also heard from people that they just planned on sharing their own food with their animals. Yes, your pets would love you to share, but our food is not going to have the same nutrients at the same levels that they need causing them to essentially slowly starve. Storing specific food for your furry friends are the easiest way to continue enjoying their companionship in a disaster.
Remember that you four legged friend needs water. On the plus side, water will be easier to take care of thank food for pet preps. I would still plan on a gallon of water a day, but since you will not be bathing or cleaning your pet as much as us people require for a healthy existence, you probably won’t go through any where close to a gallon for most pets. You can never have too much water stored and if you count on a gallon a day for your dog and it only drinks a quarter or half gallon that day, you have that excess to use for someone else.
Pet health and hygiene can be just as crucial as your own. Keeping your cat or dog’s fur trimmed and brushed will help control fleas and ticks from coming in the house with them and off you and your family. Store away a brush or two for them along with manual hair clippers and nail trimmers specifically for your pets. It is little things like flea bites or your pets long nails scratching you, that could lead to family members dying from infection in a SHTF world. A natural method to keep your pets free of pests is bathing them in a high concentrate mint tea, also gives them a better smell than wet dog. Stock up on any over the counter pet meds you can as well, but also look at some of the human medicine that can be used with you pet as well such as peptobismo. I suggest buying or putting together a first aid kit for them along with a first aid or veterinary manual too.
I hope I have helped you and your pet’s preparedness. My furry companions are just as important to me as any other member of the family, I hope this has been a wake up to make sure that your four legged family members are not over looked. If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment. Thank you.