Pets need one too!
Getting ready to quickly leave your home includes your beloved pets. Here are some ideas for making sure your furry friends have what they need when you have to grab & go.
Grab & Go Bag
Here are items you can pack that your pets will not only need but appreciate. Many of these items will make your life a lot easier too.
Cage / Crate / Carrier
Which one is best for evacuation?
Crates are generally larger and less portable than carriers, while carriers are smaller and more portable. Both can be used to transport and house pets. Overall, a medium to large size dog needs a crate, and a smaller dog and cat can use a carrier. You may be tempted to take a larger cage for your pet to provide more room. But just know that they are made from heavy-duty metal bars and can be extremely heavy and harder to transport than a crate.
Choosing the right size
- Measure your pet’s height and length.
- The crate should be at least as tall as your pet’s height (measured from the top of their head to the ground) and at least as long as your pet’s length (measured from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail)
- It’s also a good idea to add a few extra inches to these measurements to ensure that your pet has enough room to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
- Your pet may have to spend a lot of time in this enclosure so the bigger the better within reason and your ability to accommodate the size.
Tip: You can double up on small pets "if" two conditions are met. The cage must be large enough to easily accomodate both and allow for the free and comfortable movement of both pets. Also, the pets must be good friends to begin with. Temperaments can change during stressful times so you must be confident that neither will turn on the other.
Collar with a Tag
Your pets need identification when they leave home. Most dogs already wear tags but this also applies to cats. If you pet gets spooked and breaks loose, the ID gives your pet a much better chance of making it home.
Your dog most likely already owns a collar and tag. Add a second pair just in case something happens to the original.
- tag with your cell phone number
Most cats don't wear collars. Placing a collar with an id tag on your cat as you prepare to evacuate just makes sense.
- tag with your cell phone number
Tip: Pets can lose collars. Take safety one step further by getting your pet microchipped. Remember to update your microchip records when you move. Also, including a GPS pet tracker in your pet's grab & go bag will allow you to track your pet just in case the unthinkable happens.
Leash, Harness, and Muzzle
A harness allows you to control your dog in a way that a leash does not. Include a muzzle if you have even the slightest hint that your dog's temperment will be affected negatively by stress and could result in someone getting bitten.
Attach a harness before you leave. This, along with a leash, will allow you to safely take your cat out if its carrier and to maintain better control. Once evacuated, never take your cat out of its carrier except in an enclosed environment.
Tip: If you know or suspect that your dog will need a muzzle if placed in a stressful situation, it's a good idea to start learning now so you and your dog will be prepared.
Pack and store at least one week of food per pet.
- dry food - stored in an airtight container within original packaging
- canned food - remember a can opener and plastic spoons
- collapsible bowl or lots of disposable bowls
Food Storage & Rotation
- Store in a cool, dry location. Dry food can go bad quickly if it's stored in hot, humid conditions - storage in a garage is not recommended.
- Rotate food every 3 to 6 months.
Tip: Learn more about pet food storage. Use part of this food for your pet's grab & go bag and rotate out every 3 to 6 months for use before it spoils.
Water is heavy and takes lots of room. With smaller dogs and cats, this shouldn't be a problem. With larger dogs, it can get a bit tricky as space may become an issue.
A general rule of thumb: 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.
- 90 lb dog: 11.25 cups per day
- 90 lb dog: 4.92 gallons per week
- 20 lb dog: 2.5 cups per day
- 20 lb dog: 1 gallon & 1.5 cups per week
- collapsible water dish
A general rule of thumb: 4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day.
- 10 lb cat: 1 cup per day
- 10 lb cat: almost 1/2 gallon per week
- collapsible water dish
Tip: Include the appropriate amount much water in your pets grab & go bag. If you have a larger dog, this won't be possible. If you are driving away, you may have enough room. If not, or you are evacuating on foot, take what you can and plan to find resources elsewhere. Be prepared to treat the water if its quality is in question.
You'll want to clean your pet's living area so think about packing a small spray bottle with a pet-friendly cleaner and paper towels.
- litter box
- box liner - optional
- clumping litter
- waste baggies
- waste baggies - plenty
Tip: There are disposable litter boxes commonly available at grocery stores. You may prefer to pack 1 or 2 of these for your cat's use, rather than a plastic litter box. These contain non-clumping litter.
If your pet is on any kind of medication, you will want to take this with you. Like human medication, there may be an option to purchase more than one month's worth at a time. If you can do this, store one of the bottles in your pet's grab & go bag at all times and rotate through each.
If you can only have one bottle at a time, include a note that is place inside your pet's bag, on top of all other contents that reminds you to grab the medication on the way out. Make arrangements for any meds that must be kept cool.
If you know there are some items that could bring your pet a little bit of comfort during what could be a stressful situation, be sure to include them.
Comfort item examples:
- favorite treat
- favorite toy
- light stick
Tip: Like some other things, you may not be able to pack the very thing your pet enjoys because its being used. Write these things on your list of things to remember on your way out.
First Aid Kit
Here are some basic first aid supplies. Customize for your pet as needed and place this kit inside your pet's grab & go bag.
digital thermometer (normal temps for dog: 99.5˚ to 102.5˚/ for cat: 100.4˚ to 102.5˚), rubbing alcohol and petroleum jelly (to clean & lubricate thermometer), instant cold pack
pain relievers*, antihistamines*, 3% hydrogen peroxide* to induce vomiting (* with supervision of your vet only)
blanket, muzzle, tweezers, scissors with blunt ends, gauze, and vet wrap (adheres to itself), antiseptic wipes, Neosporin ointment.
Eyes & Nails
sterile saline eye wash solution, cotton balls or swabs, antibiotic ointment such as Terramycin (non-prescription), styptic powder (stops bleeding)
Tip: Make sure to include items for yourself such as latex gloves, a flashlight, and phone numbers for the vet's office, the closest emergency vet hospital with its directions, pet poison hotline 1-855-213-6680, and ASPCA Poison-Control Center 1-800-426-4435. Both of these hotlines are available 24/7 to provide assistance in case of a pet poisoning emergency.
Creating an information packet for each of your pets may help identify, treat, or care for your pet in case you get separated, or if authorities need proof of vaccination status.
- name, address, and owner’s name
- description: species, breed, color, gender, age, distinguishing features
- microchip number
- current photo: both front, back, and with family members to establish ownership
- vet's name and contact info
- proof of vaccinations, especially rabies
- registration and licensing papers for dogs
- medical record showing particular diagnosis - showing medicinal needs, etc.
- brief information on your pets feeding schedule, temperament/behavior, medical concerns
Tip: Add this information to a card or word document and place it inside a waterproof baggie along with your pet's evacuation plan (see next). Place this sealed baggie securely inside your pet's grab & go bag.
Pet's Evacuation Plan
Two copies of your pet's evacuation plan should be made. One copy should be placed inside a waterproof baggie along with your pet's information packet (see above) and once sealed, placed securely inside your pet’s grab & go bag. The other copy should be given to your pet helper.
The plan can be used as a checklist to get your pet out the door and should include the following:
- items that need to be taken: your pets grab & go bag, cage/carrier, etc.
- where these items are kept.
- destination option in desired order, with all numbers and addresses