Pets should never be thought of as a liability when prepping, but should instead be viewed as a valuable asset that can assist you in a number of ways after SHTF. As well as providing added security, they can help with raising livestock, pest control and even make effective intruder alarms. Whether you have a Pit-Bull Terrier, Jack Russell, or a new-born kitten, every animal can be useful in an emergency situation. Learn about the various duties your pets will perform as well as what extra preparations you will need to make regarding their care.
It goes without saying that in this situation the larger the dog, the greater the level of protection, but it is never advisable to purchase an animal solely for protection without first taking into account the needs of that animal. To become an effective guardian your dog will first have to form a strong bond with you, and will need love, training, food, water and shelter, so if you are not prepared to invest the time and effort it takes to build a strong relationship, it may be better to invest in weapons.
Intruder Alarm Watchdog
Dogs of any size will soon let you know if someone is approaching your property, and often prove more effective than state-of-the-art technology that can be disconnected or bypassed with a little knowledge. They are also incredibly useful whenever you have to leave the safety of your home as they will continue to act as lookout, and larger dogs make strangers think twice before approaching you.
Provide Manure for Growing Crops
Most gardeners do not recommend using dog and cat feces for fertilizer, but with the right composting methods it can be just as effective as any other type of manure. There are many helpful guides available online to assist you in safely converting your pets waste into fertilizer.
Cats will clean your living space of just about any rodent, lizard, or insect that dares to set foot in your home. Certain dog breeds such as Jack Russells and Patterdale Terriers are also excellent for pest control and will quickly alert you to any infestations on your property.
Help With Hunting
If you live close to a forest or woodland, then a dog will make the perfect hunting companion. Labradors and Golden retrievers are ideal bird hunters as their webbed feet makes them excellent swimmers. If you will be tracking land animals, Fox Terriers, Springer Spaniels, and Beagles are fantastic trackers and will assist you in catching rabbits and other small mammals.
Help With Raising Livestock
As well as providing protection for yourself and your family, a dog will keep your livestock safe from coyotes, bears, and other wild dogs. Breeds such as Border Collies, Welsh Corgis, Old English Sheepdogs, and the Australian Kelpie are bred for their herding abilities and will prove invaluable when moving your livestock in search of fresh pasture or between pens. Herding dogs also provide crowd control during feeding and cleaning, and their mere presence can help to calm a wriggling sheep during shearing or nail trimming.
Provide Love and Companionship
The most important job that your companion animal will perform is providing a source of unconditional love and compassion. It has been scientifically proven that pets can reduce stress levels in humans, and this will benefit everyone in your shelter greatly if you are holed up for a long period of time.
In order to help your pet perform their duties effectively it is important to keep them in perfect health. As well as an adequate supply of food and water, it is essential when prepping to pack a few extra items that will make life easier.
Food and Water
Your pet’s food and water should be stored wherever you plan to retreat to, whether it’s your basement, shelter, or nearby structure. If there is no local source of clean potable water, your pet will need plenty of bottled water and a combination of dry and canned food. Store pet food in sealed five gallon buckets with the addition of oxygen absorbers to help it maintain freshness over a long period. Both dry and canned food should be stored at room temperature or cooler to maintain shelf life.
Pet Medicines for Prepping
In the event of total social decline, you may not have access to adequate healthcare for yourself let alone your pet, so stocking up on a few essentials is vital for your pet’s wellbeing. As well as an adequate supply of gauze, splints, and sterilized cotton, build a holistic first aid kit for your pet filled with herbal tinctures and homeopathic remedies, and store it in a small plastic container in your Bug-out Bag. Remember to include first aid books for both herbal medicine and homeopathy for pets.
Investing a little time in training your dog beforehand will make life a lot easier later on and the basics such as sit, stay, and come should already be in place. If you plan to use your dog for hunting or herding, it is important to first check if the dog displays natural abilities for these tasks. Regardless of breed, some dogs are simply not cut out for working life and are better suited as guardians and defenders, so you may need to think about getting a second dog for help with outdoor duties.
If you plan to use your dog for protection as a watchdog or a guard dog, he or she will need to be well trained to avoid friendly contact with uninvited intruders, and especially to ignore any food or treats offered.
In case you are forced to evacuate your home you will need to have a suitable container that can act as both a travel crate and an outdoor kennel. Community shelters may not allow you to bring pets inside, so make sure the kennel has adequate living space for your animal and can hold food and water containers in case they will be needed for an extended period of time.
Like us, pets suffer from boredom, so you will need a few items to keep them busy while on lockdown. Catnip, squeaky toys, rawhide bones, and tennis balls provide hours of entertainment, and playing with your pet will also provide a welcome distraction for you and your family.
Find a Backup Caretaker
In case the worst happens and you are not able to reach your pet in an emergency, make sure you have a backup caretaker who can step in and provide care until you are able to return. Leave a key to your home with a trusted neighbor or friend, or hide a key somewhere on your property and keep the chosen person’s phone number on you at all times.
Place a Picture of Your Pet in your Bug-out Bag
Separation is a very real possibility if things get out of control, so store a picture of your pet in your Bug-out Bag to help you locate them in case they become lost. You may also want to invest in a GPS tracking collar that will enable you to locate them easily using a mobile device, but this technology only works if there is an internet connection available.
Leaving our pets behind is simply not an option for most of us, and bringing them along doesn’t have to be hard work. Animals are often more adaptable and resourceful than most people, so having an extra furry helper by your side will assist you in more ways than you can imagine.
(Photo credit: prepperdays.com)
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