How to Prepare and Store Dry Food for Your Pets to Use in an Emergency

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When building a food storage plan for your family, it’s easy to focus on the human members of your “wolf pack” and lose sight of the needs of your pets. But remember, they’ve got to eat too! Here are some ways to store food for our scaly, furry, and feathered friends.

The Quick Approach
One of the fastest ways to build a long-lived food supply for cats and dogs is to buy canned food. These airtight metal containers can keep out the bugs and rodents, and they’re great when it comes to portion control and rationing.

Another quick start plan is to buy pet food in long term packaging from an emergency food supplier, such as Emergency Essentials. Their freeze-dried pet food is suitable for both dogs and cats. Whichever way you jump-start your pet preparedness, just make sure you store the cans in a cool, dry, and dark spot, and replace them periodically with fresh stock. Despite the short lifespan suggested by any can’s expiration date, food in cans should last for 5-10 years under ideal conditions. Don’t forget to store some drinking water for your pets as well.

**The Home-Packed Approach **
Canning jars aren’t just a great way to store wet foods that have been water-bath or pressure canned. They also make airtight, rodent-proof and insect-proof containers for storing your dry pet foods. Follow this procedure and you can’t go wrong.

Start by ordering 100CC oxygen absorbers. Larger O2 absorbers are commonly available through emergency preparedness retailers (like 500CC and 2000CC sizes), but the 100CC size allows you to parcel out the right amount of product for different jar sizes. I bought a large box through Uline supply company.

Next, purchase canning jars with lids and rings OR some food grade buckets and Mylar liners. Fill your clean dry jars with dry pet food, add an O2 absorber (or several) to match the volume of each jar, and seal it up. As the oxygen absorber does its work, the jar lids should start popping as they draw down from the vacuum.

The atmosphere contains about 21 percent oxygen, 78 percent nitrogen and 1 percent other gases. If the O2 absorber is sized right for the container, it should remove 99 percent of the oxygen and leave behind nitrogen and a slight vacuum—the perfect condition for food storage. It’s not unusual for foods to last two decades or longer with this technique.

The buckets are similarly filled, after first lining them with a Mylar bag. Add the O2 absorbers and seal the Mylar bag with a heat sealing tool or a flat iron for hair. Clothes irons can also seal Mylar bags, when you iron the bag mouth again a hard surface like a wooden board. Here’s the breakdown of O2 absorbers to container volume (filled with food):

1 quart jars need 1 100 CC packet
½ gallon jars need 2 100 CC packets
1 gallon jars need 4 100 CC packets
5 gallon buckets need 15 to 20 100 CC packets

Have you set aside food for your companion animals? Tell us your strategies by leaving a comment.