Disaster Planning: The Dog Bug-Out Bag

This past week, I’ve spent a bunch of time watching the weather channel.  For some reason, they kept predicting thunderstorms in the afternoon.  I think, overall, it rained for about five minutes, and I didn’t see any thunder or lightening.

While I watched, I noticed several areas of the country with major weather incidents.  Tornadoes.  Tropical storm-like things that weren’t going to turn into hurricanes, but would cause bigger thunderstorms than we see here in Michigan.  And I thought about disaster planning.

What would I take for my pets, and what would I leave behind?  If I built a bug out bag, what would I put in it?  Here’s my list of things I would take for my pets if I had to evacuate.

Disaster Planning:  Dog Bug Out Bag Essentials

Vet Records.

Any time you take your pet across state lines, take your vet records.  Most importantly, make sure you take proof of your pet’s last rabies vaccination, and secondly all other vaccinations.  Keep your pet’s bordatella vaccination up-to-date.  If you must leave quickly, you may need to board your pet in order to pick up the pieces of your home, and a boarding kennel will need vet records.


Always have at least 4 days’ supply of food for your pet.  The more specialized your pet’s diet, the more food you need on hand.  If your dog eats Purina Dog Chow, you’re likely to find that anywhere.  If your dog eats Wysong Vegan, you may find it difficult to source in a new community, even short-term, and if your dog has allergies, you can make a bad situation worse.


When disaster planning, remember you’d bring water for the people, make sure to bring enough for the pets.  Dogs pant to stay cool, and drink more water when they are hot or stressed.  So bring enough, and then some more, for everyone.  If the evacuation means your family also experiences hot weather, make sure to follow my Hot Weather Guide.

Crate & Crate Mat.

Even if you don’t use a crate at home, bring one when you evacuate.  You may need to stay with friends, family, or in a hotel, and your pet may need to stay in a crate.  Some hotels don’t allow pets, but will allow you to set up the pet in the car.  Use emergency blankets, travel fans, and open doors and windows to keep your pet cool.  A crate lets you open all the doors on your vehicle without your pet escaping in a strange place.

Extra Leashes & Collars

When I was showing dogs, I would always set down my leash somewhere, and then forget where I put it.  Bring 2 or 3 extra leashes and collars.  Make sure that every collar has tags with your cell-phone number.  If possible, put a number for a family member that lives in a different part of the country.  That way, even if you can’t use your phone, a family member can still take calls if your pet gets lost.

Poop Bags

While disaster planning, buy a package of poop bags and keep it in the car.  Not only can you pick up dog poop, you can also contain a leaky soda, the toddler’s half-eaten ice cream, or any other number of messes.  Even if you never use poop bags at home, you’ll need them when you evacuate.

The Best Thing about Disaster Planning?

I love disaster planning.  I love knowing that everything I need is organized, stored, stowed, and ready to go.  And once you’ve set up your disaster kit, you’ve also set up three quarters of your camping kit, too.  Everything you’d need for disaster planning, you’d also need for camping, hiking, or vacationing.  Just restock as soon as you return home.

What other items does your family pack for an emergency?  Tell me about it in the comments!

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