17 Items to Add to Your Dog’s Bug-Out Bag

For folks who don’t have pets, it’s easy to emphasize focusing on your human family alone in times of trouble. But for those of us who include our furry friends among our genuine family, the idea of neglecting or leaving them behind when it’s time to bug out is utterly unthinkable.

blue heeler herd dog, Jovie
blue heeler herd dog, Jovie

That said, it’s true that bringing a dog along when you bug out or evacuate complicates things. Our pets have needs of their own that must be met, and they require special supplies and gear to support them.

If you haven’t planned to bring gear for your dog, it’s time to change that. Below I’ll be telling you about these items to add to your dog’s bug-out bag…

Dog Pack

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First things first, consider actually getting Fido a bug-out pack of their own. It’s not a joke: there are plenty of companies that make saddlebag-style packs that dogs can carry.

Getting your dog to carry at least a portion of their own gear is a good idea, but there are some caveats that you need to know about.

For starters, you should only attempt this with medium and large-breed dogs that are in good shape. Small breeds just can’t carry enough gear for it to be worthwhile.

Also, don’t overload your pooch: depending on the size and fitness of your furry friend, they can only carry anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds for up to 3 days at maximum. They aren’t mules!

You’ll also need to start training your dog to carry the weight and put up with the pack, so don’t wait until the last minute to strap it on.

Dog Boots

Dog boots or paw protectors are a great idea for bugging out. Dogs depend on their paws just like we depend on our feet, and under the circumstances, there will be a lot more opportunities for them to be injured.

But, as you probably guessed, most dogs despise wearing these things, so you’ve got to start training them ahead of time. This is the only way to get them on quickly when time is short and then keep them moving.

Musher’s Wax

Musher’s wax is a special product that will help protect and condition the sensitive pads on a dog’s paw. They look tough and leathery on the outside, but they’re surprisingly vulnerable to damage—especially if they are kept wet and cold.

Protect Fido’s paws in rough weather using this stuff, or apply it any other time you’re taking a rest to condition and help prevent injuries and keep them in good shape. A small pot will go a long way.

Dog Jacket (if needed)

Dogs tend to hold up better in bad weather than people do, and depending on the breed, they might be completely at home in the most blisteringly cold weather or even put up with rain pretty well. However, that isn’t true for all of them.

Dogs need protection from the elements the same as we do, and a good weatherproof dog jacket can help keep them warm and dry, which might be critical if temperatures suddenly plummet.

If you know your dog’s okay outdoors in harsh weather, or if you live in a very mild climate, you might consider skipping this.

Jovie seems ready to bug out!

Stuffable Camp Towel

A stuffable, ultra-absorbent camp towel is just the ticket for drying off your dog when they get soaked by rain, snow, a river crossing, or anything else. As mentioned, exposure is an issue for most dogs but it also makes them miserable unless they are a water-loving breed.

In a pinch, you can also use this as a mat or blanket for them. Just make sure it can be stuffed down into a very small size so it’s easy to store and carry.


No matter how much you trust your dog, no matter how well trained they are, you simply cannot let them go unmuzzled when you’re in the middle of a high-stress situation or when they get injured.

Even the sweetest, friendliest dog might bite when injured or terrified, so it’s in your best interest and the best interest of your pooch to muzzle them.

This is another item that I strongly advise you to acclimate your dog to well ahead of time; otherwise, it will cause even more stress. A simple muzzle design that’s collapsible and easy to pack is best…

Spare Collar

Things are going to get very bad for you, very quickly, if your dog slips out of, loses, or breaks its collar. Controlling them will now be difficult or impossible depending on how well-trained they are.

Having a spare collar you can whip out really quick and buckle around their neck will be a lifesaver. If you have a larger dog, consider including an entirely separate, spare leash also.

I don’t worry about the leash because I can easily fashion my own from paracord, rope, or something else that I already have handy. You’ll need to understand how to tie various knots, but you’ve been practicing, right?

Copy of Papers, Vacc. Status, Records, Etc.

This next one is incredibly important, and sadly something I see people forget all about time and time again… Just because the world is falling apart doesn’t mean you won’t have the need of records, papers, and documentation.

This is crucial for your puppy because it might be the only way that you can get them inside a shelter, kennel, or other places of assistance. This will put officials and other people at ease, and it’s also the ethical thing to do considering that they might run into other pets.

I urge you to keep a weatherproofed paper copy in your dog’s bug-out bag as well as your own or consider keeping the files on a flash drive as a tertiary option.

Collapsible Bowl

No matter what’s happening where you are going, your dog will need food and water as normal. It’s best to avoid letting them lap it up or eat right off of the ground, so toss in one or two of these nifty collapsible bowls.

They are lightweight, take up very little room, and are easy to clean. Well worth the inclusion!

Water Purification Tabs/Liquid

Dogs are big drinkers, with your average hound sipping about an ounce of water per pound of body weight each and every day. It sure would be nice if our dogs were capable of carrying their water with them, but this is a practical impossibility: it’s just too heavy.

What you can do, though, is give them their own water purification supplies to carry in the form of tablets or liquid chemicals. This will ensure that you can make water safer for your dog to drink without eating into your own supply of the same!

a blue heeler dog

Parasite Preventative

Heading off into the wild blue yonder, and especially into the backwoods or marshes, means that you and your pet will be exposed to a truly crazy amount of external parasites.

Fleas, ticks, mites, and lice are all possibilities, so make sure you bring at least a dose of your pet’s usual parasite-preventive medication. Apply it the same as you usually would according to factory directions when the time is right.


Your faithful dog won’t be able to go very long without a steady supply of high-quality food. You should also know that dogs that are working hard and constantly on the move need half again as many calories as a canine that’s just hanging around the house. For instance, if your pal normally needs 700 calories, he’ll need 1,050 during a bug-out.

The big issue here is weight, again: canned, wet food is completely out of the question because it’s so heavy. A better bet is the usual dry kibble packed into Ziploc freezer bags (see below) or freeze-dried pet food. The latter is more expensive, but a smart option for readiness if you can fit it in your budget.

If feasible, make sure that your dog has access to their usual food; this will prevent anxiety and problems associated with a badly disrupted stomach. If their bug-out food is different from their usual, no matter what, start getting them used to it now.

High-Calorie Supplements

All dogs love treats, but plan to put some extra special treats in their bug-out bag. High-calorie supplemental treats are designed to help underweight dogs put on weight quickly and are just the ticket for packing even more calories for less weight. Consider them emergency survival bars for dogs!

They’ll also do a great job of topping up your buddy’s energy reserves when you’ve been hiking hard and long. Don’t overdo it, as a few of them will go a long way.

Make it a point to give these to your dog sparingly before you need them to make sure that their stomach can handle them okay. You don’t want to be dealing with a dog’s upset stomach in the middle of an already bad situation!

Canine First-Aid Kit

When it comes to first aid supplies, many of the things you have in your own first-aid kit can be put to use on your dog as well. But it’s good to budget accordingly for extra supplies in case they’re needed, that way you or someone else won’t have to go without if your pooch gets hurt.

Consider the following to be the absolute minimum for a canine first-aid kit:

  • Tick Remover / Tweezers
  • OTC Meds for diarrhea, allergy, pain
  • Prescription meds
  • Gauze Pads / Rolled Gauze
  • Vet Wrap
  • Ointment
  • Styptic Powder

You should add more or less depending on how much weight your dog can carry or how much extra weight you are willing to carry!

Heavy-Duty Freezer Bags, 1-Gal.

These bags are essential for taking care of your dog during a bug-out situation. From carrying dry kibble or extra water to picking up and sealing away the stench of poop if you are in a vehicle, in a shelter, or anywhere else where you have to keep your dog inside no matter what.

Believe me; you’ll be very glad you got these. And don’t skimp out on them. Get Ziploc brand and accept no substitutes: the material they are made from and the closure really is a cut above other brands and that can turn a nasty accident into something tolerable.

Shop Towels

Shop towels go hand in hand with the freezer bags above. They’re useful for countless purposes, cleaning up your dog if they get muddy or messy, wiping their backside, blotting up pee, and even impromptu first aid.

You don’t need to pack a whole roll of these things, but what you can do is pull a long section off of the roll and then fold it up a few times into a compact bundle that is easy to store and carry. Then just tear them off as you need them.

Poop Bags

A small roll of poop bags is also a smart inclusion. I know this seems redundant compared to the zipper bags above, but it isn’t: when you reach your destination or are making a temporary stop where you can properly dispose of your dog’s poop, you should, and save those Ziplocs for when you absolutely need them. Waste not, want not!

Favorite Small Toy

Don’t forget to toss in your dog’s favorite small toy. Every dog has one, be it a favorite rubber chewy or a comforting stuffed animal.

While it’s true your dog will key off of you to inform his own emotional state, chances are you’ll be stressed out and regardless he’ll be feeling the pressure too. The toy can help him relax when you are resting, and that will make him easier to handle.

dog bug out bags Pinterest image

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