I hate to be the one to say it, but winter is coming.
And with winter comes the cold, the wet and the dark.
While few of us like to think about winter until it actually arrives, the reality is that it often makes sense to plan ahead.
In such a way, not only will you be prepared as and when the bad weather really arrives, but you’ll also avoid the mad panic as everyone else suddenly realizes they need the same supplies.
Of course, pet owners have additional responsibilities when winter comes around. While we hope it will never happen, power cuts do occur, central heating systems do break down and cars refuse to start. As a result it makes sense to not only prepare yourself for winter – but also your pets.
By creating a dedicated “emergency bag” for your pets you can feel confident that if and when the worst happens you’ll be able to help your pets to weather the storm and remain comfortable until normality is reached again.
Indeed, you’ll have everything you need in one neat bag ready for easy access.
Spare Food & Drink
Imagine if you couldn’t leave the house for a period of time – such as if you get snowed in. Or consider the alternative; if you need to leave the house in a hurry due to flooding or other emergencies. Suitable food and drink for your pet might not be the first thing on your mind in such situations.
Placing some spare food, and a bottle of water, together with some spare food bowls, into your emergency bag can therefore be a good place to start. For the maximum shelf life possible dog and cat owners should prioritize bottled water and dried pet food. Dried dog or cat food also has the added benefit of being lighter than canned foods if you need to carry your bag a reasonable distance.
There can be little worse than your heating packing up at the most inopportune moment. Of course there is little we can do as non-professionals to fix heating problems, but we can plan ahead in terms of solutions.
For example most camping and outdoor shops sell hand-warmers; all you need to do is click a button and they will produce heat for some hours afterwards.
Combine these with a suitable blanket or a dog coat and you’ll be able to successfully keep out the worst of the cold even if your heating does decide to go south as the snow comes down.
Arguably dog and cat owners actually have life easier here; for those with cold-blooded pets like reptiles or fish the problems can be even more extreme. Hand warmers can of course be used for terrestrial pets like lizards and snakes.
However it can also be wise to keep some bubble wrap and/or blankets easily accessible in order to rapidly insulate your fish tank or reptile cage. In reality these will likely take some considerable time to cool down, so if the power is only out for a short while then a blanket of bubble wrap will help your vivarium or fish tank to retain it’s warmth for as long as possible.
With the days getting shorter in the northern hemisphere, a night without electricity can be a real inconvenience. It can also be a scary experience for pets. As a result another worthy consideration for your emergency preparedness pet bag is one or more high-powered torches, together with spare batteries.
For dogs or cats investing in glow-in-the-dark or reflective collars and/or coats can also be beneficial for finding your pet and/or helping them to stay visible under darkness.
If you need to leave your home in a hurry, having a suitable pet carrier to hand can make moving your pets much easier. In this way you will be able to safely keep your pet under control, and likely transport him or her to your vehicle much more easily.
This is especially important for pets with large or heavy cages that cannot easily be manoeuvred. Reptiles and amphibians, for example, are much more easily moved in small plastic containers than attempting to lug a full-sized vivarium into the back of your car – at night, in the rain, by yourself.
Toys & Treats
Many domestic pets have become experts at taking queues from their owners. In the case of an emergency you’re likely to be a little stressed and harassed, and this can affect how your pets also respond to the situation.
In the case of a winter emergency therefore it is important to try to remain as calm as possible for your pet’s sake. However in addition to this having a few easily-accessible toys or treats can also help to calm your pet and take their mind off the stressful situation.
First Aid Supplies
Whilst we truly hope you’ll never need to use them, investing in a pet first aid kit can also prove to be a valuable investment in the case of an emergency. Many bigger pet shops now sell complete pet first aid kits; otherwise create your own from human supplies.
As a side note, if you pet is taking any form of medication then it can be wise to keep a spare supply in your emergency bag so that if supplies run low in your home, or you need to leave in a hurry, you won’t need to try and remember where your pets tablets are in amongst all the commotion.