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Prepping for Our Furry Friends – Stuff for Spot

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For a lot of us, companion animals are as much family as the people we don’t really want to see even on the holidays. For some of us, they are working partners, part of our mental well-being, and our therapy all rolled into one. While most of our companion animals are going to be cats and dogs, there are also birds, pigs, goats and even horses that fit the bill of a pet as opposed to solely being livestock. Livestock or pets, we took responsibility for a feeling creature’s life, and we owe it to them to take care of them.

That means adding to the long lists of things we need to do, buy and plan for should our worlds fall apart on either a small-scale or a large-scale.

I’ll mostly focus on the cats and dogs, but a lot will apply to anything, from ferrets to pot-bellied pigs.

Water for Mr. Whiskers

Just like people need food and water, so do our animals. Ferret to bunny, pony to puppy, if the animals dehydrate, we’re in a world of hurt.

Water is going to really be a biggie should the world or nation ever collapse. Try to monitor the water use in winter and in summer, or in high-activity seasons, so we keep at least a week or so on hand for them (ideally more).

With animals, we also have to remember that a lot of them pant. Whether it’s a stress action or cooling action, panting will dry them out and we’ll need to allot extra water for them.

It may be possible to do sub-cutaneous fluids for even very small livestock if it becomes necessary, but ideally, it’s not necessary. In an emergency, we’ll have to monitor our animals just like we do small children and seniors.

Bathing animals may take an even lower priority, but in that case, we may need to come up with a smell and-or pest plan.

Commercially Available Long-Storage Foods

Food might be simple, or it might be more complicated.

There are “normal” commercially available freeze-dried pet foods. There is no way I’d buy them. I’d be totally broke and then my beloved fur-balls would be in a shelter anyway.

There are long-term storage foods available in buckets. The Ready Store sells one, and  MayDay makes another. One of the wholesale bulk warehouse stores sells a bucket of food for cats or dogs as well.

I consider them about on par with Ol’ Roy, on top of being expensive. I do have a couple of buckets of cat food (I really think they came from Costco) but I have every intention of using a Pearson Square to make it part of the protein component and it’s mostly there for helping to clean their teeth.

MRE Depot sells doggy biscuit treats and at one point sold those “quart” #2.5 cans of dog and cat food. However, MRE Depot tends to … think very highly of their products, and I have dogs who consider those single-serving cans.

Plus, again, this is not Blue Buffalo or Nutrish level dining here.

Therefore, I tend to avoid the commercial long-storage options. I either repackage, or I create “normal” food storage for my furry friends.

Repacking for Rufus & Rex

I pack Milky Bones and Alpo squares in mylar and oxygen absorbers, and in canning jars with oxygen absorbers. I keep in several bags of food that get rotated, even with the oil-rancidity risks of our hot Southern summers. (Wowser article that I ignore)

I have tried to repackage bagged pet food in Mylar with oxygen absorbers, but it tends to barely extend the life by 2-4 months – which is not overly worth it to me. In cooler climates, with fewer or smaller animals, it might be worth it to be able to open smaller increments.

Stocking Up for Socks & Spot

I could just buy cans of cat and dog food, but we rarely feed it. That means whole stacks of flats end up donated on a regular basis as it comes time to rotate, and the deductible barely dents replacement costs every year.

While I don’t mind giving some extra love to unwanted shelter animals, I need to be able to take care of mine.

Years ago when imported foods started making animals sick, I started making homemade food. There are a million and five recipes available, with the best options very home and animal-specific.

We had incredible results from it. The older dogs perked up, leaned down, tightened up, and played more. Periodic tummy sensitivities and Gassy Gus went away almost overnight. Attention, retention, and stamina went through the roof.

I no longer make all of our pet feed, but I do still make a portion of it and I tend to make extras of certain foods to add to the scraps our animals get.

For us, a casserole or soup worked best. I make up enormous kettles in one go, freeze a portion, and pull out three days’ worth at a time to defrost. It’s then as easy as scooping.

For an emergency, it won’t be quiet that easy, since I won’t have fridge and freezer space for the pets’ foods, but I will still be making them basically human foods.

Storage Foods for Pets

Powdered Eggs make up the backbone of the protein and fats that are stored for the dogs and cats. Commercially, they’re available as whole eggs or scrambled egg mix. They can also be dehydrated at home if inclined.

Oatmeal, barley, brown rice & white rice are my go-to feeds for the dogs, both in daily life and in the stored foods. The oatmeal especially is cheap, fast, and easy. The grains make for a decent calorie base and belly filler for dogs and rodents.

Potatoes are stocked for both the cats and the dogs, home-dehydrated as well as commercial buckets and #10 cans of slices, dices and grated shreds. I even can baked potato skins, although the cats won’t touch those. They’re full of good nutrients for the dogs.

Apples, Carrots & Sweet Potatoes are present for the cats and dogs, with the dogs a little heavier than the cats on the apples and sweet potatoes or sweet African yams. Again, I can dehydrate them at home, or buy them in affordable bulk to repackage or already set in cans and buckets. The veggies give the animals much-needed vitamins, just as they do us.

Peas are no longer part of my animal-diet plan. Some dogs handle them, some don’t. There are enough other options, I tend to just skip them now, but for years I included them.

Berries are fine for cats and dogs most of the time, but they tend to be expensive and human favorites so with the exception of copiously producing cranberry-equivalent bushes, I don’t allot many to the animals. Cats and dogs are less likely to eat the bitter berries than birds or ferrets.

Greens are dehydrated, purchased dehydrated, and grown in tin soup cans, small Dollar Tree cubes and planters, and outside. They’re also foraged wild. While the animals may not be super wild about them, and the greens should represent a smaller proportion of feed than even something like apples or carrots, they are another one that is stacked-legit with nutrients – especially the nutrients we’ll find lacking in lean animals and winter.

Boiled with something meaty or flat-fried or baked-and-chipped eggs, our cats, dogs, rats, and ferrets will dive on greens just as fast as they will a chunk of salmon jerky or broth from meat trimmings.

Milk gets stored as a calcium source and calorie boost. My animals handle whey milk and soy milk without any problems, so I can buy whatever’s cheapest at the time. Previous animals have handled raw milk and goat milk even if pasteurized was off the table.

Most long-storage milk is fat-free, so I have to be aware and get their fats in from something else.

When’s lunch?

Fish is a major part of my dogs’ and cats’ long-term food storage plan. For a few dollars a year, I can spend days in the sun collecting dozens and hundreds of pounds of feed for them. Skins and some of the organs we don’t even want help boost proteins and oils for the animals.

Especially important with cats, pressure canning or drying fish for storage creates something I can open or soak-and-simmer to create an enticing scent. If cats can’t smell food, they won’t eat.

Without a fishing license or with prohibitive keeper restrictions, tuna in oil and then tuna in water (which will last longer) can make somewhat less-expensive food-flavoring options. There are places that sell cod, shrimp, and salmon, but it tends to be freeze-dried and pretty pricey.

Repacking well-dried jerky-like treats to extend the storage life might be another option to consider to induce kitties to eat.

Peanut Butter Powder is also in my storage for the animals, but it’s there mainly to make them homemade doggy “biscotti” biscuits that will give them something to gnaw and help keep their teeth in better shape.

Wheat & corn are in my storage, but not for my animals. A lot of dogs and cats don’t actually process much corn, and some are sensitive to wheat. With potatoes, rice, and oats inexpensive and compact, I can easily avoid having wheat and corn be their base calories.

Transitioning Foods

Pets or people, we’ll want to plan transitions between foods – almost always. While some animals don’t need it, even transitions between types of kibble or canned foods should be done slowly.

You replace 1/10 to 1/4 the feed for 2-5 days, then another 1/10 or 1/4. If an emergency requires it, you can go ahead and skip to 50-50 blends or 70-30 new-old blends.

My preference is to have dry food as a finisher or by itself at least several times weekly, because it really is better on their teeth. When we transition to smokes and raw bones, we use a step process as well.

It’s my personal belief that because my animals do get scraps and leftovers, and do get trimmings and bones stewed for them, their guts stay ready to process more foods. Skipping a meal or a few days of their usual feeds doesn’t bother my animals’ stomachs at all.

Just like people, animals vary widely, so consult a vet and add those transitions slowly.

Goodies for Evac Kits

Red Cross and FEMA sites are happy to list out supplies to consider for our animals. Whether we’re evac’ing alone, with a cat, or with a trailer of six crated dogs, two goats and three horses, there are some goodies we might want to add to make everybody more comfortable, both during the trip and after.

  • Portable, battery-operated fans (blow into crates)
  • Misting systems/bottles
  • Umbrellas, portable pavilions (shade, rain coverage)
  • Animal entertainment
  • Spare towels
  • Tarps
  • Treats (even hooved livestock like treats, such as applesauce or sweet pellets)
  • Hoods
  • Fly screen/fly hoods/mesh, and-or tiki torches or various Off fan types (flies and mosquitoes are bears)
  • Pool mattresses (elevated bedding)
  • Nail trimmers & file (to save the air mattresses)
  • Garbage bags, kitty litter, shovels (waste cleanup)

Medications

Remember that cats, especially, can’t take a lot of human or dog medications. Those need to be sourced and stocked separately. There are, however, a lot of overlaps between species, fish to humans, pigs to dogs.

We have to research any meds our animals are on or can be anticipated to be on, just like with humans. Contraindication can delay recovery and set animals back if we combine the wrong things, or push them at the wrong intervals. Just like human meds, we’ll want to stock up on prescriptions and OTC drugs our animals have used in the past, or that we can anticipated them needing in the future.

Flea and tick preventatives, dewormers, heartworm preventative, mange washes, lice and flea dips, and ear cleaners are just a few of the things we might consider stocking up on.

Prepping for Furry Friends

There’s a lot to think about with our family disaster plans, big and small. Figuring out how we’re going to take care of our critters – pets or livestock or working animals – just adds to the headache. The moisture content in animal feeds and the expense of some types of feeds can make it seem impossible at first, but with some twitches, we can use standard, inexpensive storage foods to keep the animals fat and happy. There are also things like a water plan and sport umbrellas or mesh screens that will not only make us and animals happier, they can help reduce diseases, illness and heat stroke. It takes a little forethought, be we can absolutely prepare to keep our animals in personal crises or nation-altering events.

15 Comments

  1. Brendan Patnode

    April 23, 2017 at 12:14 am

    for dog food i buy 50 pound bags of food from the feed store,i put 2 bags each into METAL 55 gallon trash cans and put them in my barn ,thay last a year like that

    • R. Ann

      April 23, 2017 at 2:20 am

      Mine tend to smell musty or rancid after a few months spring through autumn, even with oxygen absorbers and when they’re tucked into Mylar. I can get 3-6 months out of the dry dog food, a month or two longer from the cat food, but that’s it for the bagged Blue Buffalo I prefer.
      Glad you’re able to get longer for your pals and pards.
      -Rebecca Ann

  2. harv_y

    April 23, 2017 at 9:23 am

    I like the focus of this article on things a person might not consider at all. I’ve been seriously prepping for over 40 years and am constantly amazed at the things I forgot to consider. Things like Lots of extra boots,(which I just stocked up on after reading about the guys that went with Lewis and Clark who wore out over 2 dozen moccasins per person on the way to west coast, and spent a lot of time on the west coast making enough moccasins to get back,and that was an exceedingly well planned excursion with a lot of input from Thomas Jefferson). Arms may be #1 priority, but once you have half dozen or so weapons, it could be best to get lots of extra boots, gloves,jeans,rope etc stuck away for everyone. I don’t want to have to do without or have to make that stuff. My place looks like a small hardware/army-navy surplus store.

    • R. Ann

      April 23, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you!
      Glad you saw it as things that get left by the wayside.

      There are a couple of handyman types and working+small farm types who comment and write regularly. I keep hoping they’ll do a “day/week in the life” article touching on the things in their trucks and grab buckets and toolboxes that are their must-have items for daily patch, temp-fix and perm-fix jobs. Much the same as you mentioned – see what I don’t actually have as much of as I’d need in a big disaster or long-term layoff.

      Cheers!
      Rebecca Ann

  3. bensmagginolia

    April 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    good article. a good balance between dogs and cats.

    • R. Ann

      April 23, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you!
      I’ve had pet rats and ferrets in the past, too, and they and the hoofstock sometimes get forgotten about in the articles, even though most of the disasters we’ll face, we COULD make arrangements for them.

      Maybe where our dogs are just always there at our knees and fingertips and happily panting out the passenger window?
      🙂

  4. Flattop

    April 23, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    You can spend a lot of money on self defense for when it hits, but your best self defense aid is your dog. He will be of utmost importance when you learn his bark. My dog has a bark that says heads up, and then theres the bark that says, trouble is here. Get to know your dog and his barks. You don’t need a trained attack dog, just one who has some common sense, and he will never desert you..

    • R. Ann

      April 23, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      I’ve had a couple with that natural ability, and a couple of total morons, with most falling in the middle.
      I’m a big proponent of training for all sorts of reasons, and EDC and disasters only play into them.
      I really believe in hand signals and silent alerts. It doesn’t take a specialty dog, just some time that’ll vary dog by dog more than it will breed by breed.

      Kind of like those gun quotes that wander around.
      Could be the most expensive on earth, but without practice and training, pretty useless; And, I’d rather be standing beside somebody who knows their 5-shot .22 revolver and can deploy it smoothly and not hit bystanders than somebody with a humdinger of 17 shots sheathed in expensive gear who has never had their heart pounding and made a shot.

      Any dog can be an asset. On the other hand, any dog can be a liability. There’s some dependence on individual capability and mindset, but mostly it all depends on what we put into it.
      With you there!

      🙂

    • BobW

      April 24, 2017 at 3:21 am

      What so many forget (not saying you do), is that a barker can be challenging to muzzle when he’s done his job, and you need him quiet, and to recover him. Our non-guard guard dog, when he thinks he has backup, is off to the races pushing wild animals (mostly coyote) away from ‘his’ house. Very protective, but a challenge to recover. The other dog is a strong barker, with a great defensive mindset, but won’t stop barking. Its going to take a bunch of training to break them of their habits, but I wouldn’t replace them for anything.

      • R. Ann

        April 24, 2017 at 8:25 pm

        The worst ones I’ve run into are the hound group breeds and strong-hound mixes. It’s hard to beat hundreds of years of genetic drive and breeding. 🙂

        For the returns, you might look at some of the sporting dog collars, or use a single-wire pr double-line electric fence to teach boundaries.
        The collar-flag-line systems designed for dogs aren’t rec’d for the hound (sight or scent) or bulldog groups – they’re too headstrong and will run right through them when their “go” is up. They can help in some cases, even for those breeds, but …
        Those systems are also pretty darn pricey compared to the retriever trainers and the stock lines that run off car batteries.

        Good luck with your barker. You’re right that it takes a lot of dedicated training to break those habits.
        🙂

    • boyo

      April 24, 2017 at 8:44 am

      I’m a boxer dog person. They’re not excessive barkers. If someone passes the house on the street, warning barks ensue, but in the house they tend to be quiet and alert. The head perks up, scans left and right ( locate/assess the sound ) bark if danger or to warn ( normally just a light guttural growl and a look at you to see if you heard it too or if you think it should be checked out ) . In 20 years of boxer ownership (excluding my childhood boxer ) I’ve had less than half a dozen “in the middle of the night” barks (angry). You can damn well believe I have been at attention and ready to go for each one since they are so seldom given, and warrant a check

      Know your animals.

  5. boyo

    April 24, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Prepping for pets definitely gets a pros and cons list going. What’s your list?
    Pro-
    Keeping daily life more normal having the furry kids around for you and your kids(+when bugging out)
    Natural alarm/protection (dog+ when bugging out) – vermin control (dog/cat)

    Con
    Another mouth to feed – Would money be better off on prepping your family alone?
    Animal and it’s supplies take up more room and displace your possible family max supplies if bugging out.
    An animal is a walking pot roast to hungry people and may become an attractant, not a deterrent if people are hungry enough.
    A too vocal of a dog is a giveaway.

    • R. Ann

      April 24, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      Mine revolves around a lot of situations and scenarios, as well as my personal feelings.

      So it starts with, not all disasters are equal.
      My disaster could be as small as losing my job, having a fire or flood where it turns out there’s a gap in my insurance coverage or it takes 2-3 months to get coverage, or being injured and unable to do two of the jobs that earn me the most money, and solely doing editing, writing, and possibly my steady “real person” job (although depending on the injury that might go away). The latter is the only one with worker’s comp (the tradeoff of being self-employed otherwise).
      My disaster could also be evac’g ahead of floods, fires, or major storms, having 3′ of snow fall in 24 hours as it once did and shut my power and most of my state down for 5-10 days, summer tornadoes that knock out power.
      There could be increasing economic downturns that affect disposable income (and 3 of my jobs) or some kind of huge fuel spike or crop disease/drought/floods/freezes in multiple parts of the world that affects prices hugely.
      All kinds of things. To include another Great Depression or something similar to Greece, Argentina, or Venezuela where life is largely continuing for all or most of the population, but it’s definitely not life as I know it right now.

      So that said, my mentality:
      Working animal, livestock or pet, I accepted responsibility for them when I brought them home.
      To me, that means a happy, healthy life and then a humane death without lingering pain. Happy and healthy means I prepare for them the way I do for the rest of my family.

      Remember, though, that I’m the woman with ice cube trays of the newt & salamander water so I can keep the tank cool for short-term outages, their own little power system and a spray mister and battery fan in case that can keep them going past ice cubes, and they’re stocked legit on brine shrimp and the cricket feed – like, years worth. I built their tank to be largely self-sustaining on the nutrient cycling, but that’s just my mentality (and it’s pretty fun to play, and to not have to change filters or vac gravel or change water as often).
      They’re just bait to some people, but they became mine to protect and keep healthy and safe when I decided to get the first adorable little swamp wiggler.

      My Pro-Con of pets runs much the same as yours:
      – Mental heartache at killing a healthy animal vs. preparing for them
      – Normalcy factor (we’re used to having them; they’re part of our daily lives and entertainment, stress relief, and partnerships)
      – Mental health (dogs and companion animals are actually good for our brains and for child brain development)
      – Alarm and alert system, and for a couple of them, a nice tiered alert system
      – Livestock guardians
      – Theft/attack deterrents (if you’re scoping a house with attentive dogs vs a chihuahua or snoozing basset vs no-dog home, you go no-dog and small dog first, and I’ve seen people back away from my open jeep with purse and laptop bag when my girls *smile* and say hello)
      – Physical aid (my first dog as an adult gave an ex 30-odd stitches when he opted to break a window and shove me into a brick wall; one of our high school dogs jumped through an upper door window to help my sister many moons ago; I would almost like to see somebody attack my mother or father with their vicious bitches at the moment; I’d have almost pitied somebody for trying to take my eldest nephew away from his pit bull, GSD and scruffy terrier mutts – they were pretty sure he was their ugly bald angel puppy from the stork; the spaniel mix just thought he was a walking lollipop)
      – Pets are expensive even now (price out that heartgard and advantix for a couple of 50# and 100# pups … right?)
      – What I stock for my animals could carry the humans X further (space, time, money, supplies)
      – Any 1-2 of our dogs could replace a child in bodyweight, which is one less child I’ll be able to responsibly take in during a crises

      I totally understand if people choose to stock a couple months or weeks to ride out “normal” storms for their animals, while creating 18 mo-3 yr piles for their people.
      I just hope they’re ready to do the responsible thing at the end of that period instead of turning them loose.
      🙂

      • boyo

        April 25, 2017 at 10:54 am

        Thank you for the response. It seems you’re the type of person that does have things that occasionally keep you up at night, and you thought experiment them out.
        Too many people think they’re going to someone else’s house or going to start a garden in troubled times. What if someone else doesn’t want you (no skills or security to offer – or someone else is a better investment?) Where iare you getting your garden supplies now? How do you make it 30-120 days to harvest for first eats off the garden?

        Keep waking them up. Excellent article.

        • R. Ann

          April 25, 2017 at 1:44 pm

          🙂 I agree with all the questions you pose to preppers.

          I was a victim’s advocate, was a deployed Marine in the era when we promised girls and women they could go to school and read and we’d protect them (before we left them behind to their fates), was part of the frustrated Thailand tsunami response and have dealt with typhoon and mudslide rescue in Japan, ran a therapy dog for child reading and seniors and wounded vets, got one of my permaculture credentials in Jordan, have been on HumAid missions in north Africa and went back to help create a women’s and girl’s center garden and orchard in Sudan, volunteered at animal rescues/shelters and was briefly in SAR, usually assist with Toys for Tots and at the Center of Concern or similar grocery aid facilities, work with the ARC here and there volunteering or having it or similar groups working on restoration projects, tithe in goods, and started hunting and getting serious about growing to check out of the way Big Ag raises animals.

          Plenty keeps me up, just in the faces I’ve seen and what already takes place or has taken place, way before we even get to what the mind can create.
          And, for better or worse, I have a pretty good imagination when it DOES come time for the thought-based exercises.

          If I could stick the innocents under my umbrella and face their hells for them, I would. There are limits to what each individual can do. I just can’t save everybody, even now with good jobs and plenty to eat and a friendly climate.

          I’m lucky for my experiences, and for a mind and body that can be healed enough by a wagging tail and the woods and production property we have.

          🙂
          -Rebecca Ann

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