We always think of unique ways to protect and prepare for a situation where we are not able to get clean water or edible food via the normal methods. We have water stored for weeks, a plan for food storage, bug out bags, etc, but what about your pets?
Having pets means that you are responsible for prepping for them too. Dogs are fantastic pets to have during an emergency scenario due to pack mentality and the willingness to help. They also make great companions in times of need. Have you thought about their needs in an emergency scenario?
Food Rotation, manufacturers bags and canned pet foods are the best for long-term pet food storage. Freeze Dried foods are also a great choice for long-term storage if kept safely.
Canned Pet Food
Canned pet food is great for long term storage. They are easy to find and easy to stack in a closet or storage bin. The manufacturers already label the cans with expiration dates with shelf life anywhere between 2 and 5 years from the date of production. I have seen some communities claim that it lasts considerably longer than that.
Canned food is usually pretty inexpensive and relatively easy to store by stacking them and wrapping them if you are looking for long-term storage.
The key here, as with other forms of pet food storage, is rotation. Buy what you need, then use what you have stored. This way you have a product rotation that always leaves extra cans for later. There is nothing wrong with having a good three months supply on hand in case things go bad and pet food becomes hard to find.
When you feed your pet, be sure to use the oldest can first. This way you can properly rotate your stock and always have some food for them in case of a natural, or man-made, emergency situation.
Dogs will consume more food than cats and the larger the breed, the more food you need to have stored for them. Store canned pet food in cool, dark places in your home. You do not want the cans to go through temperature swings that can happen if you store it in a shed or garage. The rapid temperature changes can cause it spoil faster.
Dry Kibble Long-Term Storage
Believe it or not, the best way I have found to store kibble is in the bag you purchased it in. An expiration date is always printed on the bog somewhere so you know when to rotate the product in your stash. Rotation is important, if you decide to buy an extra bag every other time you purchase bagged kibble, then always use the oldest bag you have at home for your pet.
I have seen some blogs tell you to open the bags and store them in airtight containers. I would advise against this. The pet food manufacturers put the kibble in the best bags for long term shelf life so store can sell them safely if they sit on a shelf for a while. These bags are designed to keep the kibble in a dark, dry and very lightly breathable state.
Kibble is usually packed with fats and oils that can go rancid if you restrict the airflow by using an air-tight container. Kibble will begin to oxidize once the bag is opened, so you want to keep the bag in a safe location. If you must put it in an airtight container, do not open the bag before storing it.
Kibble also needs to be protected from high temperature swings. Do not store it outside. Keep your pets food safe indoors where the climate does not have wild temperature swings.
As mentioned before, use the bags in a rotation and open the oldest bag first. If it smells funny or odd, dispose of the bag.
“All Natural” kibble is great for your pet. These types of kibble will not store for long periods of time and need be rotated to the top of your inventory. These foods lack the preservatives necessary for long term storage.
Freeze Dried Pet Food
Freeze dried foods are available in supermarkets and pet food stores. Just like freeze dried food for us, your pet can enjoy it too. These types of pet food are typically more expensive, but have a great shelf life for long term storage. Freeze dried food for pets tends to be a higher quality of food and is a great alternative to attempting to store the all natural variants of pet food. They are usually less processed than kibble and canned foods.
You should repackage these foods in Mylar or other airtight containers with some silica packages or other oxygen absorbers to ensure the product stays dry. You can always re-hydrate freeze dried food if your pet prefers it. Its gonna look kind of gross, but it is edible and your pet will love it!
Can’t Our Pets Eat What We Eat?
Well, yes. More common pets, like cats and dogs, can eat very similar foods that we do. Keep it as simple as you can since they do not have the same digestive system we do.
A small mix of chicken, beef or fish with some rice is a good and filling meal for your pet. Other pets like chinchillas or rabbits may just need some fresh vegetation you may have on hand or some vegetable scraps from cans and other packaged foods you already have on hand. Toss in some carrots, or broccoli to add some flavor and nutrients for your companion.
Don’t feed them highly processed items you may have in your survival kit, like protein bars or a candy bar. Feeding your pet highly processed foods and sweets will make them sick. In a survival scenario, you do not want a sick pet if you can avoid it.
Some Other Tips:
- Vaccination: Make sure your animal is vaccinated regularly. This will keep your pet as healthy as they can be until the emergency event happens. Let’s hope it doesn’t, but if it does. You are prepared, and so is your pet.
- First-Aid Supplies: Our pets can be wild and crazy sometimes. They are also prone to injuries just like us. Be sure to have some medical supplies on hand to help them.
- Leash and Tie Downs: Make sure you have ways to leash your pet, or secure them in a location if needed.
- Bedding: Your pet will need to sleep in a comfortable place. Make sure they have one that will help retain their body heat.
- ID Tag: If they get lost, someone has a way to find you.
- Food & Water Bowl: Something they can eat out of.