How to Pack an Emergency Go-Bag for Your Pet

You never know when you and your best buddy might need to leave home, fast. Whether you’re getting away from a hurricane, a wildfire or another disaster, you should have a bug-out bag — also called a go-bag — packed with supplies for your pet and stored near the door of your home. Yes, emergencies are rare, but you need to be prepared just in case the poo hits the fan. Here’s what you should pack.

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Cleaning and Grooming Supplies

Whether you’re bunking with a friend until you go home or at an official public shelter, you’ll need to clean up after your pup or kitty and keep them tidy. Pack poop bags, paper towels, a spray bottle of disinfectant cleaner and garbage bags for cleanup. For a cat, pack litter and a disposable litter box. (Aluminum roasting pans are ideal.) Pack a brush or comb and a can of dry shampoo for pets. Throw in an old beach towel, too, for larger spills or for your pet to cuddle on.

Medical and Vaccination Records

You will need to prove he’s been vaccinated to take him into a shelter or board him, so put copies of your fur child’s vaccination records in a waterproof container, on a USB, or take photos of them and store them on your phone. If you can’t get back home right away, copies of medical records will help you get treatment for your pet if necessary. Write down your pet’s feeding schedule and any behavior issues and pack it with the records.


If your pet takes medications daily, pack a week’s worth in a waterproof container. Be sure to check the expiration date on the meds every six months and rotate them out, using the older meds now and packing newer ones in the go-bag.

Extra Collar and Leash

Your dog wears a collar and you keep a leash by the door, but pack spares in the go-bag just in case you have to leave fast and forget the leash. Make your dog or cat wear tags with up-to-date identification information. P.S. Your pet should be microchipped. If he’s not, do it.

Toys and Treats

You’ll be staying in a place that’s unfamiliar, so keep your pet as calm and happy as possible by taking things that remind him of home, like his favorite squeaky toy and those tasty treats that make his world go 'round.

Pet First Aid Kit

You can buy a pre-fab kit or assemble your own. Either way, your kit should have bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, tweezers, antiseptic towelettes, antibiotic ointment, a pet first aid guide and an antihistamine like Benadryl in case your pet has an allergic reaction to a bug bite.

Food, Water and Bowls

Take five to seven days of food and water, as well as bowls. Pack the same food in your bug-out bag that he always eats, because changing his food when he’s already dealing with the stress of leaving home may cause him to get sick. Look for collapsible silicone or fabric bowls that won’t take up much space in your go-bag.

Current Photo of Your Pet

If the worst happens and you get separated from your pet, you’ll need a photo to show around as you look for him or to make "lost" posters. Keep a digital photo on your phone. Doesn’t hurt to stash an old-fashioned paper one in that waterproof container, too, with his vaccination records and meds, in case your phone runs out of juice.

A List of Pet-Friendly Hotels and Boarding Facilities

You need to know exactly where you can go with your pet if you need to leave home. Do a bit of research now and find the names of hotels or motels along the route you would take to leave that allow pets. And ask friends or your veterinarian for recommendations for kennels, in case you can’t take them with you. Store a list on your phone and pack a paper list, too.

A Bag

Well, duh. Before you pack a bug-out bag for your fur child, you need to get a bag. A backpack is a good choice because it leaves your hands free, but a roomy tote bag works, too. Whatever you get, be sure it’s waterproof. If you have a large dog, consider getting a doggie pack and let him carry his own supplies on his back.

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