Whether you call it a go bag, a bug out bag, or a pet emergency kit, it’s important to be prepared to take your pets with you in case of a state of emergency or natural disaster. We talk through how we’ve each prepared for an emergency and provide some suggestions to ensure you and your family – pets included – are ready go as well.
This video is part of the Pet Voices PRESENTS series. CLICK HERE to see all the series videos.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:03
If you’ve ever had to leave your home in a rush, then you know what it’s like to think about the things you need to have. Which is why it’s important to have something like an emergency kit, especially one for your pets. They can’t prepare it for themselves. So, whether you call it a go bag, bug out bag, or your pet emergency kit, this video is all about what you can think about preparing now, what you might need to prepare in the moment, and how you can be best prepared to move quickly and feel confident.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:20
And there are so many different types of emergencies that you may need to be aware of or be worried about. And it’s going to be different depending on where you live. Some people are at risk for hurricanes. Whereas others are at risk of tornados. And then, there are also earthquakes, fire, and flooding. You need to be prepared to act just in case.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:47
When we were talking about this, we realized that there are things you can do now and just have it sitting there ready to go. So, when we talk about a go bag, it means it’s ready to go. You don’t have to worry about it. You don’t have to change things. It’s just there ready.
And then there are things that you need to have easily accessible. And then, finally, there are things that you might just need a list of because you’ll have to buy them once you leave. Things that are a little bit bulkier or perishable, like food. Things that might go bad, so you can’t just put it in a bag. Or maybe you don’t have enough. You just need to have a list to help you think, “Okay, when I leave, what is everything that I need?” So, that you and your pets can be safe and healthy as much as you can be in whatever your emergency might be.
STEP ONE: LONG LASTING SUPPLIES
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 1:25
So, let’s start with the things that have no expiration date. You can pack them in your bag, or your container, whatever you have all of your things in, and they are good to go. You don’t have to worry about them getting old or getting gross; they are good.
I like to start with the basics. One thing that I have in my bag, ready for my dogs, is a leash and a collar [shows leash and collar]. And that’s because if I’m in a real emergency, I might not have the time to actually grab my dogs’ leashes. I might just pick them up and put them in the car. So, I want to make sure that there is some way that I can keep a hold of them in a state of emergency.
And another side bonus of this is that often pets get separated from their families, so if you happen upon a stray pet, and you have the resources to care for it and keep it safe during that emergency, you have an extra leash and collar to make sure that they stay with you during that time.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:17
That’s super smart.
This is just a bag that I have stuff in [shows bag]. If you think of it in that way, putting it in and picking your bag. It doesn’t have to be a bag. It could be a cardboard box, a plastic container. Whatever is easy for you to store things in. It doesn’t matter what you put it in. I have mine in a bag and my extra collars and leash in this just because I know they can get twisted up.
But I have two dogs, so think about that, have items for how ever many pets that you have. Dogs, cats, rats probably don’t have it, ferrets, bunnies, Guinea pigs. They are different.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:47
But for the smaller pets, you would want a carrier, something extra that you could easily grab and put them in it. Because it’s going to be a lot more challenging to pick up your rat and take it with you and make sure that it stays than a dog or even a cat.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 3:01
And the other thing you can think about having in here that can just stay, poop bags [shows pet waste bags]. So, I have them in here. Good old poop bags. You even have a little container; that’s cool.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 3:12
Yeah, that’s great because I feel like so many brands give these out like swag, so if you get some, hang onto them. Just throw your container and some extra sets of poop bags in there. You never know when they’ll come in handy.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 3:23
I have a blanket [shows blanket]. I have this little cooling towel [shows towel]. The point being, that the things that are just sitting in here, like Jessica said, they don’t go bad. There is nothing to worry about. I can just put those items in there and leave it and not think about that, but also still know where it is. Put it in a place you remember. It’s not something you hide in the bottom of your closet, then go, “Oh, where is my go bag?” This is something that you put on your way out the door. Maybe it’s in your hall closet and it just stays there, easy to grab, easy to access.
What other things can we put in there, Jessica, that aren’t going to go bad?
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 3:57
I have carabiners in mine, actual sturdy, good quality carabiners [shows carabiner]. Something that can actually hold weight because that can help for a whole bunch of things in an emergency, but it can also help you tether your dog or cat. Or even if you have a smaller pet and they have a carrier and you want to attach something to it. It’s really versatile and they are really small.
And then, in addition to that, I have something that will make my pets visible in case of a power outage or any other kind of darkness. There are two things that I have. One is a battery powered light [shows light] that I can easily attach to their collar and it will blink, so it will help me locate them and help other people see them in case of traffic or anything else where they are at risk. And then, you can also get something that is reflective and bright [shows orange collar cover]. And this is something, this just slips over an existing collar. If you have a collar that already has reflectiveness on it, great!
STEP TWO: EASY TO GRAB
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 4:53
And right now, think, “Okay, do I have a go bag?” And if you do, “Does it have those things?” And if not, can you make it a little bit more complete? That’s step one.
Then, if we move on to step two, like Jessica mentions, you want the things that are easy to grab. So, for me, I just have this little bin in my pantry. Literally, if I was to go, I would grab this and bring it with me because it’s got in it the necessities that I need to have, just in case. And it’s specific to me. And I think that’s important to know your pets.
There are certain things that you need. For instance, I have a Greyhound. She is finicky about the dogs she meets. If I know I am running out, I need to have her muzzle [shows muzzle]. Greyhounds are very used to them. It doesn’t hurt her at all. But she is reactive, so I need to have something to protect her and the other dogs that she might run into. That’s one of the things in my bag that’s special.
But Jessica, I know you’ve got some stuff too. I have other things that we’ll get to, but what else do you put in your go bag?
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 5:57
I love that you have that container in your pantry that you can just pull. And I think it’s especially important because your dogs have medications. My dogs don’t. I’m fortunate in that. They are overall pretty healthy. There is nothing that they have to take regularly.
So, my strategy with that is to put everything into the bag that I’ve packed. And then, I put an annual reminder to update what’s in there. One thing that I definitely have in there are up to date vet records [shows vet records]. And I recommend putting those in a Ziploc bag just to keep them safe.
And the other thing that I like to keep, that you probably need to update every year or so, is some way to keep bugs away from your pets. Because if you’re out in the wilderness, which you might be in a state of an emergency, you will want a way to keep them healthy and safe in all aspects. I actually like these bandanas [shows bandana] which are infused with insect repellent. You can just put them on your dog or cat and that will help repel bugs from them because it will be covering them. You can of course look into pet safe bug repellents as well, but those are something you would want to update more regularly. The benefit of this is that it does last a little bit longer.
And to expand on that, another thing that you probably want, and you refresh annually or so, is a first aid kit. Something that is specific to your dog, cat, or guinea pig. Something that they can benefit from if something does go wrong and you need to help them out medically.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 7:24
There are a few other specifics for me because, as Jessica mentioned, both of my dogs are on ridiculous amounts of medication. So, there are two things that I do to help with that. One is I keep medications in here, in my lovely handy dandy bin [shows bin]. I’ve got medications in there. I have some of their supplements. I’ve even got healing ointment in here because my one little dog’s nose tends to dry out. All the little things that I know would be nice to have with me.
But I keep their medicine in this [show pill organizer]. I don’t know if this is something that everybody uses, but it’s really handy because if today, something were to happen, I can just grab this and go. I have backup medication in here [shows bin]. I’m set with it. It’s all ready for me to be on the go for the next few days. I don’t keep the organizer in the bin. I keep it on my counter because they take it, as you can see, several times a day. When you are in that kind of situation, you are not always thinking perfectly, so being prepared like this can really help.
And I also keep things, like Jessica said, for bugs. This is a little tick thing [shows tick tool] that I keep, just in case. Again, it’s answering the question, “What do I think my pets will need?”
I’ve got little socks [shows socks]. What if we end up in a desert and I want to protect their little paws? Who knows? Part of how I thought about this is I really don’t know what’s going to happen, so I just want to have all the little things that will potentially make us leaving home less stressful. Because it’s going to be stressful no matter what.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 8:46
And that’s really why you have to think about: “What can I prepare today and what can I have ready to go in case of an emergency.” And that’s one of the reasons, too, why we recommend having a list. Because your dog, your cat, your guinea pig, and your rabbit are going to be different from ours.
Understanding what they need and also where you are geographically. Because if you are in a climate that is a desert, like Chloe said, that’s hot 90% of the time, you are going to want things to protect them from the sun and protect their paw pads from hot pavement. But then if you are somewhere cold, you may actually want a coat for your dog or something to help keep them warm. It may then be more important to have a blanket like Chloe had.
Think about where you are, your pets, and what they will need to thrive in an emergency environment.
PERISHABLE & BULKY ITEMS
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 9:31
Once you have all those things in place, there is still that aspect of the perishables. Now we are talking about food. We are talking about treats and water.
One element that kind of fits in this category for the cat lovers out there is litter. Just think about where you keep it, so it’s easy to take whatever you already have. I also know there are a few companies that actually make portable, easy to move litter boxes. So, maybe you just have one of those set aside with your go bag. Litter is one of those things that’s specific to cats and you need to think about how it fits within your go bag strategy.
For us, I have a bigger dog and smaller dog, they eat a mix of wet food and dry food. I have to think about that. Because wet food is heavy. How much of it do I think I can take? That’s an element to this. When you’re thinking about food, even if you have a ton at your house, it doesn’t mean you have the room or the time to bring it with you or even that you want to be carrying all of it. So, think about how much you need to get through about three days and then think about what you need to buy to take you further if your emergency goes longer than that. I would just grab the couple of cans that I knew I needed. And I keep the kibble that I use in a storage container that actually has a handle. So, I would literally just grab a few cans and grab the storage container. That would be my dogs’ food.
Treats are nice to have. If you leave your house without treats, they will probably be okay.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 11:05
You can always use kibble or anything like that for a treat if you need to help to lure your pet to do something. Also, checking if there is any dehydrated or lightweight food is a great option. Even just for that short term. Because that is something that does have an extended lifespan, so you could leave it in your bag or, like you said, that little bin that you keep in your pantry. And that is something that, yes, it still needs to be refreshed, but maybe just annually or every six months.
And then, another way to think about it too, is if you buy new food, you could have a backup bag of food and you can just cycle that through. So, you always have two bags of food, and you are just using one at any time and you keep pushing the next one along. So then there is always one that you can easily grab and go if you need to do that.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 11:50
The other thing that I will throw in is that it’s nice to have a portable water bowl and food bowls. This is a water bottle [shows bottle] that actually becomes a bowl, so that I could on the go be easily giving water to my dogs. I think this would actually work for cats too.
I know, Jessica, I think you’ve mentioned a toy? If it’s a toy that they love, that’s something that you can grab. Or maybe you have two of them and you keep one in the bag, so you know you always got some sort of toy or some sort of special thing. Maybe for cats, it is catnap or something else that is considered a high value treat.
When there is an emergency and you’re leaving, you’re not necessarily sure where you’re going. Are you going to a shelter? Are you going to a family member or friend’s house? Are you going to a hotel? Are you just driving to get away? There is a full gamut of things.
And I know here in Colorado, back in 2013, when we had the major floods. There was an influx of people into shelters and not all shelters took pets, so then there were both the issues of separation and trying to find where pets were going. Because it was an overnight change, all of a sudden there was water everywhere and especially for people in the mountains, it got very crazy, very quickly. We all hope that it doesn’t go to that extreme, but you will feel so much better if you’re just prepared for anything.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 13:06
Absolutely. And again, going back to the idea of just having a list. Having something that you can reference because, unfortunately, some emergencies you have notice and some you don’t. Some you just have to get out and go. And I think, Chloe, with your mention of toys, blankets, beds, and other comfort things, it’s a balance. Because obviously that’s going to be more important for the pet to feel safe and comfortable, but at the same time, packing those items takes more time.
You may want to have some of those things that are fresh and new in your bag. But then if you can, if you have the time, grab that favorite, well loved toy. Have it on your list and be able to check that off quickly. Because it’s most important, number one, out of all of this, is that you and your pets make it out safely. And this is really just so that you can survive for the next three days, months, whatever it is going to be. This is preparing to have the things that will keep you going to the next place that you go where you can restock and recollect your thoughts and everything.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 13:59
Just to sort of recap what we’ve shared…
One, get those things together that you know you can put in a bag, box, a container, whatever it is, and that will just stay. They are there and they are ready.
And two, make a list. What are the other things that you need? And leave it with that. So, if you do have a little bit of time and you are in that space of, “Oh, gosh, what do I need?” The list is there and ready. You grab that box. You put it in your car. You take that list. You get your things. And you are out.
If you can keep things in something like this [shows bin], so it makes it really easy to grab the collection of items that are really specific to you and your pets, that can make it a little bit easier. If you need a carrier, just make sure you keep them in a place that is easy to access them.
And remember the last few things, like food, which you can make sure are on your packing list too. And of course, medications. Just having your list of what you know you need and what’s going to make you feel most comfortable. Because that’s going to lessen the stress for everybody. The more prepared you are the easier it will be.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 14:57
And we want to know too, are you building a go bag or a pet emergency kit? What are you including in yours? Let us know in the comments about what is in your bag. What kind of pet is it for? So we can learn from you.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 15:09
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