Dog Bug Out Bag Kit Design: 12 Items To Include

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By Bryan Lynch •  10 min read

Most people consider their pets, especially dogs, as a part of their family. And I do not think most would hesitate in bringing their dog with them during an emergency. In a survival situation, a dog can bring many benefits to the group such as security and companionship. We discuss pros, cons, and the best survival dogs in this article.

Dog Bug Out Bag Design

Since emergencies can last longer than initially anticipated, it’s a great idea to plan on bringing your pooch along rather than leaving them at home in hopes of a quick return.

Having a dog in a survival situation can be great but it is not without its downfalls. Before you start creating a pack for them here is a list of the good and bad of having a dog with you during an emergency. 

12 Items for a Dog Bug Out Bag

After going over the pros and cons you, like most people, have probably decided to take your dog with you. But is your dog as prepared to bug out as you are? Specifically, do they have a bug-out bag and supplies? If your dog is a part of the family and you plan on bringing them along, here is a quick guide to building your own Doggy Bug Out Bag.

Pet Food

It is important to remember that when bugging out, especially on foot, both you and your dog are going to be burning more calories than normal. In some cases, double the amount. The amount of food you pack will partially depend on if your dog is primarily an indoor dog or an outside, hunting dog.

When it comes to what kind of food to pack, there are basically three types. Dry, wet (canned), and dehydrated.

Dehydrated food will take up the least amount of space but will require additional water. Dehydrated food is also going to be one of the more expensive options.

Canned food can be cheaper, and most dogs seem to find it very tasty. The biggest downfall of canned food is that it is heavy. It would be difficult to carry enough canned food to feed a dog for more than a few days. But even if you do not pack canned food, you should throw in a can opener just in case.  

Dry food will need an airtight container but it is lightweight and affordable. There are more container options available for this type and dry food is probably already a part of your dog’s diet. 

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Water is just as critical for dogs as it is for us. They can drink several bowls a day normally, which will increase due to more physical activity when bugging out. Be sure to pack enough water bladders, purification tablets, and filtering methods to ensure there is enough water for you and the dog. 


Having a water and food dish will make mealtime simpler, but normal bowls are bulky and do not pack easily. To save space and weight try collapsible dishes. 


Just like other members of our family, dogs can have medical needs or concerns as well. Be sure to pack enough medications to cover your dog’s health concerns for as long as possible. A small first aid kit could include antibiotics, antiseptic wipes, and bandages.

Tick and Flea Remedies 

You never know what you will have to travel through when bugging out, which will likely increase exposure to fleas and ticks. Pack the proper remedies to deal with these pests that work best for your dog.


Whether or not to pack pet clothing into your dog’s pack is entirely up to what kind of dog you have and the region in which you live. For example, a short-haired dog in a cold region will probably need additional protection. But even a long-haired dog who is an indoor pet probably will not be accustomed to the elements

If your dog’s pads are not particularly tough, consider packing a means of protecting them, like dog booties.

Grooming Supplies 

A brush will come in handy when looking for ticks and a nail clipper will keep their nails properly trimmed. Plus, some dogs enjoy both of these experiences and bring a sense of normality to a stressful situation. 

Extra leash and collar

Unexpected dangers or security issues can pop up quickly in a survival situation, so it is important to be able to keep your dog close by, safe, and restrained when needed. Even if the dog is wearing their collar and leash most of the time, it would be a good idea to have a backup pair. A reflective leash and vest will help in keeping track of the dog if they stray too far away. 

Extra-long rope and anchor

Depending on how well the dog is trained, an extra-long leash and anchor will allow them more free movement after being on a short leash for an extended amount of time. 

Plus, you may not always be able to keep an eye on your dog, such as during the night when you are sleeping or if you need to venture somewhere that you do not want your dog to follow. An anchor will help to ensure they stay close by and safe during these times. 

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Important documentation

Proof of ownership and a list of vaccinations can come in handy when bugging out during emergency events and your veterinarian cannot be reached. 

It would also be helpful to have a list of the dog’s medical needs as well as a current photo in case they become lost. 


Believe it or not, dogs can become stressed out just as we do. Packing a favorite toy can help them to relax and bring a bit of normalcy during hard times.

Carrying It All

So how should you carry it all? There are a couple of different options available depending on the size of the dog and if you are traveling by foot or vehicle. 

I have heard that some breeds can carry up to twenty-five percent of their body weight but this should probably be avoided long term if the dog is not accustomed to it. 

If you want the dog to carry some of the weight consider looking into dog packs that physically strap on to them, such as K-9 packs or saddlebags. 

If you are traveling by foot or in a vehicle then the dog’s gear can be put into a regular pack or a pack specifically designed for dogs, similar to an Overland Dog Travel Bag.

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Pros About Having a Dog for Survival Prepardness

Stay Warm

A dog’s body temperature is a bit warmer than our own. If you find yourself unprepared or having to battle cold temperatures, you can use your dog as an impromptu space heater by curling up with them at night. The bigger the dog, the more heat they will provide!


For many people, this is an important aspect of having a dog. A dog’s senses are superior to our own and they can be aware of dangers before we are. This gives the owner an early warning system that they would otherwise not have. The appearance of a dog or the sound of their bark can be enough to cause would-be threats to move on. 

Additionally, a dog trained specifically for protection purposes is a force to be reckoned with. This type of training takes a lot of time and discipline but when done correctly, it will provide you with an invaluable asset.

A Friend 

I have never met a dog owner who does not talk to their dog beyond giving them commands. Part of owning a pet is the companionship that it brings, and that friendship will become even more important when you are trying to survive through a terrible time. A dog is a very soothing animal to have around that can help to calm you and your group members.   

Procuring Food 

Due to their exceptional senses, a dog may find sources of food that a person would otherwise walk by. Sometimes this food may be unfitting such as an old carcass. But during a long-term emergency or one in which you are traveling by foot, a hunting dog’s ability to find food and corner it could be a huge benefit. 

Cons of Having a Dog

Extra Weight

If your dog is on the small size, then they are not going to be able to carry much or any of their own supplies. This is a non-issue if you are traveling in a vehicle but without a vehicle, those supplies must be carried by you or divided up amongst group members. The dog itself could also become extra weight if you are forced to carry it for prolonged periods. 


This was listed above in the pros section but a dog, especially one that is not well trained can be a security issue. A barking dog will indicate your position when you would otherwise wish to remain concealed and one that runs off all the time can lead people to you or cause you to constantly be looking for the dog. 

Extra Supplies 

Traveling in a vehicle is going to provide much more storage room for supplies than traveling by foot. But for every extra person or pet that you have that storage space is going to decrease. 

This problem becomes even more compounded if you must travel by foot. If an emergency lasts longer than expected or supplies become limited, then a dog is going to be an extra mouth to feed and provide water for. 

Keeping them on Point

Keeping a dog focused on the task at hand can sometimes be a chore, they are interested in absolutely everything that is going on around them. This can be a good thing in terms of security issues, but it could also be a real hassle if you must drag your dog along or combat their constant tugging and pulling over miles and miles of terrain. 

Shouldering the Responsibility

Just as it may be the case with other members of your group, the responsibility of having a dog falls on your shoulders. If the dog becomes sick, hurt, falls behind, becomes lost, or they just do not want to continue, you as the owner are responsible for handling everything that involves having a dog with you. During an emergency, this is an extra burden you will have to shoulder.  

Packing It All Up

Whatever items you choose and how you choose to carry them, be sure that your dog is as prepared as the rest of the family when it is time to bug out. 

Just like people, you will need to practice your bug-out plans out with your dog. If you do not, then you cannot expect them to suddenly strap on saddlebags and do exactly what you want them to do at a moment’s notice.

But if you take the time to plan, train and practice during ideal conditions, you and your dog will be much better prepared when it comes time to bug out. 

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.