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Feeding Dogs in an Emergency Situation

The situation in Japan after the earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear issues woke me up to how unprepared I am to feed the dogs in a LONG-term emergency situation. We’d be fine for a few days for sure, maybe even a couple of weeks, but longer than that? I just don’t know.

It’s shaping up to be a TERRIBLE wildfire season here. We’ve seen almost no significant snow all winter (on our side of the Continental Divide). Tom went to a wildland meeting / training recently where fire officials predict LOW precipitation and HIGH temps through at least July.

IN FACT, we’ve had a wildfire burning nearby since Sunday. You can see updates and some photos on our Champion of My Heart Facebook Fan Page, but  I’ll try to tell that whole story next week here on the blog.

For now, let’s just continue with this stuck-at-home-in-an-emergency scenario.

Our Evacuation Kit

I’ve posted before about what’s in our dog evacuation kit, but I probably need to update that for this summer just to be sure we have everything we need now that the dogs are older and such.

I never did get around to making an evacuation kit for the people here at Chez Champion of My Heart, so I suppose I need to do that too. I think I might include a tent and sleeping bags … just in case we ended up at some emergency shelter that didn’t allow dogs. We could make do with the car, the crates, and a tent, I think.

When I bought a much smaller, more fuel-efficient car in 2009, we kept my old, old 4Runner (which I adore). In the winter, we use it to plow our driveway, and … as needed … we use it to drive Ginko to the veterinarian because while he can fit into my car, it’s not as comfortable or easy for any of us.

There is no way, however, to transport both dogs  — in crates — in there. I mean, if I had to make a break for it, and it was my only option, I’d do it, of course. BUT …

If we had to evacuate and had at least a little time to react, I would load up the 4Runner because it can:

  • Hold both dog crates
  • Fit any supplies we need for them and for us
  • Drive across any good or bad road around here, if our main road was closed for some reason

dog blog, emergency preparedness tips, food storage, dog food storageBUT, What if We Had to “Shelter in Place”

I’m not one of those the-end-is-near types. Truly, I’m not. But, if some unforeseen event left us stuck on the mountain for a long while, without any access to supplies, I’m fairly sure I could feed us people for an extended period of time (lots of rice and beans, if necessary), but I worry about the dogs.

Sure, they could eat rice with us, but I cannot imagine them doing really well on only vegetarian sources of protein.

I buy a month’s worth of kibble at a time, but what if something happened when our bag was low? I suppose I could stash a couple cases of a good canned dog food. But, if we were looking at something truly long term, I think the dogs would have to eat what we eat … which is fine, I know … I just did a series of Q&A’s for my Dog Food Dish blog on homemade dog food.

All this wondering (and likely unnecessarily worrying) makes me want to stock up on canned meats (chicken in a can creeps me out the least … and Ginko can’t have canned fish anyway because of a weird intolerance for it).

One of my new favorite blogs, Attainable Sustainable, posted these emergency preparedness tips, including food options, and also linked to this piece on stocking up for serious food storage.

I’ll have to see about how such advice can be adapted to include dogs.

How about you? Do you have a plan for feeding yourself and your pups in the event of a long-term emergency?

I’ll report back on our emergency plan efforts here, but I’d love to hear more about what you have in place too.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Raw Dog Food - September 12, 2011

Really really good post! The thought of what I’d feed after an evacuation or after a natural disaster had never occurred! Thanks for sharing this!

KB - April 2, 2011

I’ve never thought about the “sheltering in place” scenario. When we’ve had to evacuate in the past, we bring lots of K’s homemade dogfood and some of R’s kibble. We figure that we can buy more of R’s kibble while evacuated.

Amy@GoPetFriendly - March 28, 2011

Good question, Roxanne. Honestly, I don’t remember how much I used to feed the boys when we were on kibble – it’s been over a year and a half ago. Ty gets about 3/4 of a cup of food (before re-hydration) twice a day, and Buster gets 2 cups twice a day. Are my boys little piggies? Definitely! 🙂

Amy@GoPetFriendly - March 28, 2011

You may want to consider dehydrated dog food in an emergency. It packs great, stays good for ever, and all you need to reconstitute it is hot water. A 10 pound box makes 43 pounds of food, and now that we live in the Winnebago, we’re ordering 8 boxes at a time. That’s 344 pounds of dog food when we’re fully loaded and would feed both of our dogs for more than 3 months. In addition, if things got really bad, the food is human grade so Rod and I could eat it too. =)

    Roxanne Hawn - March 28, 2011

    That is such a good idea, Amy. Thanks. I probably will get a couple of boxes for our stash. That assumes, of course, we would have access to water … which I hope we would … using a generator to pump water from our well if necessary.

    Question, though, (I’ll email the question too) … 43 pounds of kibble would last us a month with our two dogs, so I’m surprised it would take 8 boxes of dehydrated food for 2 dogs for 3 months … instead of just 3 boxes.

    Do you feed a LOT more of the dehydrated food than you would a kibble?

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. - March 27, 2011

I worry about this too – though the humans in our house have enough to eat in case of emergency, the cats eat expensive prescription food that we certainly wouldn’t have a stash kept around in the long term. Splurging on an extra case for the basement is a small price to pay, right?

Kris @ Attainable Sustainable - March 26, 2011

Thanks for the link, Roxanne. Here in Hawaii, we did have worries about a potential tsunami, which made us really think about our preparedness. I don’t have dogs, but I have to say, I think my cat would be *thrilled* if her survival option was to eat human food!

Melanie Haiken - March 26, 2011

Really smart advice, and a good reminder to be prepared. My stepmother helped with dog rescue after Katrina and said it was tragic how many families were completely unprepared to care for their dogs in an emergency.

Merr - March 26, 2011

Big huge help – I really appreciate this. It helps gives some “form” so to speak for how to go about caring for our pup in the event there is an emergency. Thanks, Roxanne.

Alexandra - March 26, 2011

I will pass this link on to a friend who has a dog. So many good suggestions here!

Jane Boursaw - March 25, 2011

Roxanne – You are quite simply an angel put here on earth to make sure animals are cared for properly and lovingly. I can’t even imagine how many animals are living better lives because of you and Lilly and this blog. Keep on it, girl…

AC - March 25, 2011

Ugh, I’ve been thinking of this lately and you’ve reminded me that I need to put an emergency kit in the car. I’ve got some amazing camping gear that would keep Kona and I cozy but having it stashed in the basement when you live on a fault line probably isn’t smart.

I’m going to throw a couple gallons of water in the trunk (+water filter) and a gallon sized bag of dog food to go with the rest of the gear (including a folding crate). I don’t want to think of a disaster so bad that I couldn’t get my hands on more dog food, considering my proximity to multiple pet stores here in the city. I’m sure it’s possible, but I think you could go crazy trying to prepare for something of that magnitude.

Aly - March 25, 2011

I’m a huge fan of travel crates! They take up a quarter of the room in your car..and while not as sturdy as metal or plastic ones, they hold up pretty well.

Worst case scenerio? Cans of low-sodium stew. Oh and I’d pack a lunge line…because if I’m in the mountains, I guarantee my dogs could kill a squirrel/rabbit/chipmunk/etc. a lot more effeciently than I could. The lunge line would keep them from going too far and completely taking off.

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