The time and money spent on emergency preparedness is often focused on ourselves and our family members, and rightfully so. But what if your family includes a few pets? Most Americans own a dog or some other kind of companion animals. Reward these loyal friends by including their needs in your family’s disaster planning. From bugging in to getting out of Dodge, your animal friends need protection and provisions. Here’s are a few things to keep in mind.

Protecting your animals from harm is the first point in “pet survival.” If the conditions outside aren’t safe for a human, then there’s no way they’re safe for animals. Get them all inside the house during severe storms, floods, and other disasters. If you have to bug in for a while, then you’re probably going to need pee pads for dogs and extra litter for cats, as letting them out to do their business may not be a safe option. If you have to bug out, keep large and medium dogs on a leash at all times, and consider crating cats and small dogs for their own protection. As for other safety gear, plenty of stores are ready to part you from your money by selling animal booties and dog goggles and other strange protective gear. Honestly, you’d be better off investing that money in spare pet food (see below), rather than gadgets.

Collars and name tags are a traditional way to put your contact info on your pet; electronic chips are a more modern approach. Being something of a dinosaur, I tend to favor the collar-and-tag system, as anyone can read the tag and help your pet get home, not just a vet with a chip reader. However, collars and tags can be lost. For maximum effect use both.

Figure out how much your pets drink per day, and store ample drinking water for them. Store the water in a way that can be easily transported. Gallon jugs are easy to carry and their size can help with water rationing. Buy water from the store or treat your own water so that it stores safely; that way the water will be safe for both people and pets.

Make sure you have enough food for your pets for an extra week or two. Also make sure you your store of pet food is kept fresh. For short-term storage of dry food, use food-grade plastic buckets. Keep several on hand and make sure you’re feeding the oldest food first. For canned food, put the new cans in the back of the pantry and use the ones in front first. Whether your creatures eat dry or canned food, you should keep a few cans of wet food in reserve because of its great shelf life–and because it can serve as emergency people food. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but you could eat it if you have to.
First Aid Supplies**
You might even pick up a pet-specific first aid kit at your local pet store. These kits are largely full of people products, but if you feel the need to provide separate medical gear for your critters, then go for it. Some of the unique items in a pet first aid kit are beef-flavored doggie aspirin, canine anti-diarrhea meds, fur-friendly bandages, and many other pet-centric supplies. If you really want to be covered, pick up a pet first aid book to add to your supplies.

What are your pet preparedness strategies? Let us know in the comments.