A dog is your best friend in a survival situation
A dog is your best friend in a survival situation

Not sure what you pack in your dog bug out bag? If that’s you, this article will be your go-to guide!

For many people, their pooch is a little pampered and far from a working dog. The height of his or her working may be to make sure you get up at whatever time they deem appropriate, or to warn you of the danger that a passing car or deliveryman may pose. In a survival situation, they might just surprise you though.

My own dog had more in common with an overly energetic kitten when he was younger, but as a grown up dog he has shown that he wants a more important role in our little gang. He longs to serve and protect if only given the chance. As long as they won’t run away and get lost chasing butterflies, your dog can be a very valuable asset in an emergency.

Dog Bug-out bags

In the event of a disaster a bug-out bag is a carry bag, back pack or more accurately a saddle bag for your dog. It allows your pooch to help you carry everything you will need if you have to journey to a place of refuge. They can be particularly invaluable for those who live alone, suffer from mobility issues or rely on their dogs for protection and security.

Every house should have an emergency preparedness kit and a reserve of food and water to last 72 hours at the very least. And every person and pet should have a dedicated bag of their own in the event of having to leave at a moment’s notice. Keep reading for more tips on purchasing a bug-out bag for your dog.

OneTigris Tactical Dog Molle Vest with Detachable Pouchesone-tigris

One of the best bug-out bags for dogs is the OneTigris Tactical Dog Molle Vest with Detachable Pouches.

It is spacious, sturdy and built to be comfortable enough for your pet to carry for extended periods of time without them getting overly stressed.

Ruffwear Palisades Packruffwear-palisades-pack

For something a little friendlier to the urban environment, the Ruffwear Palisades Pack is ideal to get your dog accustomed to carrying supplies and equipment without making them look like they are going off to war.

The saddlebags are removable on this model so you do not have to take the harness off in order to let your dog have a respite from the weight from time to time.

Packing Your Dog Bug Out Bag


Just as with their owners, water is one of the most important things to pack to ensure your dog’s survival. Each breed of dog will require a different amount of water daily, but a good rule of thumb is half a gallon per dog per day. Smaller dogs will need less and larger breeds can carry more so it works itself out. Just be sure not to pack too much water as over exertion can lead to excess sweating and will defeat the purpose of carrying more water.

Water bladders and canteens work well but plastic water bottles do the job just fine as they are easily refillable and surprisingly robust. It is a good idea to include a small tray, or better yet a collapsible water dish, so they have a clean receptacle to drink from at their own pace. Floodwater is notoriously filthy and full of bacteria so please ensure that your pet is not tempted to quench their first from lying water.

Food and leash

Dogs need plenty of food and water - just like us
Dogs need plenty of food and water – just like us

Next up is food. There are pros and cons to higher calorie options, but to keep weight down a good quality dried food is probably your best bet. These foods contain all the nutrients that your dog will need to keep them healthy for many days but without the added weight. Most hikers and climbers take dried food when they are carrying their world on their shoulders, and if your dog could talk I would bet they would take that option too.

A good short leash to keep your dog close and under control is another must, as these can be very stressful times for a dog. It may also seem like a big game to them and they may want to run off to explore. Either way, it is best to keep them close by your side. A longer cord for tying them up at night is also advisable. You have enough problems in this type of situation without spending an hour or two looking for them in the morning.

Extra items

If you think you may encounter very rough, very hot or very cold ground, a set of neoprene dog boots can be a savior and you may want to add a dog jacket if you know it will get chilly. A muzzle can be a lifesaver if you are in an area where you want to remain undetected. Don’t worry, they won’t hold it against you in the long run.

Dedicated first aid kits for dogs are available and they can be incorporated into your own. Do remember to take plenty of plastic bags, and not just for poop. Though you don’t want to anger your neighbors if you end up in a shelter situation, plastic bags are invaluable in most emergency situations.

While we hope it never comes down to an emergency situation for you and your pet, it is best to get prepared for any eventuality. If the worst does come to the worst, the fact that you have your best buddy with you may just get you through anything.

Additional Resources

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: See1 and Danielle B

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