This post has been updated from our original Dog Bug Out Bag Guide which was first published in 2017. We keep our content updated as the world around us changes and as we learn new skills and techniques.
When you make your emergency plans, are you considering your dog? When SHTF, they will need supplies in many of the same ways people do. Food, water, tools, medical supplies, paperwork, hygiene items, and a toy or two to pass the time are all great things to consider. Dogs, unlike most other pets, can actually be very useful in disastrous situations. While it requires a good deal of training, dogs can be helpful with self-defense, hunting, carrying equipment, and keeping watch.
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To support your pup in an emergency or when SHTF, you need to have plenty of canine resources on hand. You could add them to your pack, lessening the supplies you can carry for yourself or slowing you down. That is where a dog bug out bag can come in handy. A large dog is perfectly capable of carrying its own supplies- reducing your own bug out bag weight and making your pet more useful. If you get a bag the right size for your dog and get them used to it, they won’t even notice it’s even there.
Most medium to large dogs can carry most (if not all) of their equipment. A smaller dog may require a pet carrier, but we will get to that in a moment. Saddlebags for dogs are the most widely used option, and there are several models and sizes to choose from. Making sure your dog is not overloaded and becomes used to the bag is important, so once you have selected one make sure you break it in on some hikes and walks before you need it for an emergency.
Just like us picking out backpacks, getting your dog to try on a saddlebag pack is the best way to get something that will work and is made with quality. There are a few options online if you’d rather try that out, but don’t be afraid to try different sizes and take advantage of free returns if they don’t fit well. Here are a few of our suggestions that cover two different capacities, but are not overly cumbersome.
Large-Capacity, Lightweight, and Proven
This tough but lightweight bag gets two paws up from all dogs as it is available in a huge array of sizes.
*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.
This pack is one of the highest-reviewed packs and offers a ton of storage space while being lightweight. There are several different sizes that fit true to the size chart and offer good flexibility and comfort for your dog. With this pack, you should be able to fit all the items listed below so your dog can pull their own weight in an emergency! Fetch a Ruffwear Approach Hiking Pack for Fido and hit the trails confidently.
Rugged, Balanced, and Durable
This pack, while on the smaller side, is rugged enough for adventures and SHTF. You may need to carry a few items for your dog due to its smaller capacity. This can be good for the dog’s mobility or if they are medium-sized and can’t carry several days of food and water. It has a slim profile, so it will not get snagged on things as easily and can still fit in small spaces, for all you Terrier owners. Pick up a OneTigris Rucksack for your pup and slot in some bug out bag essentials.
Packing a dog bug out bag is pretty simple and a similar process to packing a “human” bug out bag, except there are fewer tools. The bare necessities include:
While these are not completely necessary for a dog in an emergency, they are great to have around. If you have extra room and weight capacity in the dog bug out bag, you should consider these items.
A perfect dog bug out loadout doesn’t exist- what is right for you depends on your pup and your risk tolerance. That said, we have as close to perfect of a starting point for you: our definitive dog bug out bag checklist.
Our checklist is available as both a pdf download and as a Google Sheet/Excel file where you can check off items yourself, and even add and subtract items from the checklist.
If you are looking for the simplest way to print and use the checklist above, download our printable PDF version. It is one page long on 8.5″ x 11″ paper if you reduce the margins to 0.5″. This BOB PDF makes gathering and tracking your pup’s gear extremely easy. Once you open the dog BOB PDF checklist in your browser, you can either print it directly or save it through your browser.
If you are looking for a comprehensive way to track your dog’s bug out bag loadout, open our Excel / Google Sheet version. The sheet is sharable, and you just need to copy it to your own Google Sheets account or download it to Excel to edit it. We also keep links to our reviews for each category to simplify shopping for any equipment you may find yourself missing.
If you do end up keeping food and water in your dog’s pack, be sure to redistribute the weight as you go through them. You don’t want to let them eat all the food and water from one side of the pack without rebalancing. An unbalanced pack can cause extra stress over long distances and increase the chance of injury, so be sure to balance the pack before you harness them in.
Practice with your dog. We mentioned this in an earlier section about getting your dog used to a pack, but you want to go beyond just wearing the pack. Load it up as you would for a bug out situation and get your dog some practice. You can use it as an opportunity to test out your and your family’s packs and make an exercise of it.
Testing out plans and kits, and knowing how to use all the tools in your kit is just as important as having the kits in the first place. Take notice of how quickly your dog tires out with the pack loaded. If your dog cannot keep a good pace on a practice run, you may need to re-evaluate how much you have packed and what they are carrying.
Bug out bags are optimized with inches and ounces, and a dog bug out bag is no different. We go into detail on packing your own bug out bag in a separate article: How to Pack a Bug Out Bag Efficiently.
It’s possible you may not be completely sold on bugging out with your dog. Whether it is a lack of training, having another mouth to feed around, or some other reason why you are not planning on bringing them, we would encourage you to at least consider it.
If you have the time and resources to invest in training your pup to be useful in a SHTF scenario, there are many skills and instincts they can bring to the table. A few benefits a dog can pass along to a group bugging out:
Don’t underestimate the morale aspect of having a dog with you. Leaving them behind can set a dark tone of regret and “what ifs” for your bug out operation. If the dog truly would be a dangerous burden, prioritize yourself and your family accordingly. Just be sure to plan ahead.
Cats, rodents, mini horses- all pets could benefit from a little forethought and planning before SHTF. While many of them cannot carry their own gear with saddlebags, you can still gather essentials for them. At some point you have to draw the line- I’m not getting a water bottle to carry fish around with me in an emergency. They might get an extra pinch of fish food before I hit the door. Just don’t get too impractical or complicated with your plans and try to keep it simple.
A well-loved family pet cat could be worth putting together a kit for. Instead of the saddlebags, a cat is better served with a small crate. Zip-tie a laminated picture of the cat and emergency info to the outside of the crate so you can be reached if you are separated. Besides the container that smaller pets would require, the rest of the requirements are generally the same as a dog: Food, water, tools, medicines, paperwork, hygiene items, and a toy.
Cats can be leashed and harnessed, but crates are the way to go in an emergency. While cats aren’t going to carry their own load anytime soon, the crate is pretty lightweight and manageable for short distances or car travel. If my bug out location (BOL) was farther away, I would use a carrier with sturdy wheels. An 18-pound cat would get heavy real quick after the first mile or so.
Everyone draws a different line at what types of pets they would leave behind, but making the decision ahead of time may save you some grief down the road. The last thing you want to be doing when SHTF is arguing whether the kids can bring Fluffy, their pet marmot. Set expectations and include them in your emergency plans.
If you plan now, you can make your pet an asset rather than a liability, keep family spirits up, and be ready for any disaster coming your way.
Check out our other survival kit guides and checklists to make sure you are ready for anything:
Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
The post Dog Bug Out Bag Guide, Gear List, and Checklist appeared first on TruePrepper.
By: Rusty CollinsTitle: Dog Bug Out Bag Guide, Gear List, and ChecklistSourced From: www.trueprepper.com/dog-bug-out-bag/Published Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2023 12:24:36 +0000