Pet Food Alternatives for Long-Term Emergencies

In a long-term emergency we want our entire family to thrive, and that includes our beloved pets. Dogs and cats will have vital roles to play during a long-term emergency and we want them on their A-game!

Cats are very skilled at trapping and will keep the rodents away from your retreat and your food supply, thus keeping diseases at bay. Dogs on the other hand, are ideal to have on a retreat because they will be a good alert system, make excellent hunting companions, protect the family and help to herd livestock. Larger breeds could even help pull small wagons to help even more around the homestead.

To keep these animals healthy, keep their needs in mind when making your emergency preparations. Due to the cost of pet food, storing dry food is preferred over storing the wet food. When storing dry goods for dogs and cats, look for dry food that does not have a lot of oils in them; as the oils can make the food go rancid more quickly.

Stockpiled pet food will only last for so long.  What’s a pet owner to do when the kibble supply runs dry?

Making your own pet food is a more financially reasonable option for some. The cost is actually comparable to the price of kibble, and the nutrition content of homemade pet food is far higher.

Creating pet food is not so much about having the recipe to do so – it’s about knowing the proper ratios for optimum nutrition for your pet. The following information is geared towards healthy adult pets without special dietary needs.

A Feast for Felines

Cats have different nutritional requirements than dogs.  When a cat in the wild catches a mouse or a bird, they generally eat it, bones, organs and all. They receive a small amount of vegetables and grains, based on the stomach contents of their prey.

Cats require more protein than dogs, and do not digest corn or grains well.  Meat is the number one element of homemade cat food. Bones are also a very important addition to the feline diet – this is how your cat gets enough calcium. Liver is an excellent addition to your homemade cat food but should not make up more than 10% of their intake. Much of the waste that you would throw out when preparing a whole chicken for your family would be a welcome addition to the cat food dish.

Use this ratio to create your own cat food, based on the items you have on hand.

Meat:  3 parts

Organs: 1 part

Grain: 1 part

Veggies: ½ part

Some cat approved vegetables include: lightly steamed broccoli, carrots, zucchini, caulifower, or any other vegetables that your cat happens to enjoy. Some cats even like the taste of fruit such as melon, mango or apple, and if your cat enjoys these healthy treats it is fine to supplement their diet this way.

The meat in this mixture can either be lightly cooked or raw. I include the skin in the cat food, as it gives them some much needed fat. The grain and veggies should be cooked. If you have a meat grinder, you can put the entire concoction through the grinder before feeding it to your cat.

To supplement the diet, you will need to add some olive or flax oil and some bone meal (either commercial or grind your own in the meat grinder).

I use broth to cook the grains that I include in my homemade cat food.

The meat can be any kind of meat. Canned fish, like sardines, are especially good for cats because of the high calcium levels. However, the cat should not subsist only on fish.

You can find some homemade cat food recipes HERE.

Doggie Dinner Delights

The canine digestive system is a little less delicate than the system of cats. The ratio is much simpler:

1 part meat

1 part grain

1 part veggies

Broccoli, spinach, celery, carrots, peas, and green beans are favorite veggies among canines. Keep in mind that some vegetables are more difficult to digest than others. Dogs may have a harder time digesting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Avocados, tomatoes, and wild mushrooms should be avoided as they are potentially harmful.

I cook my dog food all together on the stove top (we refer to it as “dog stew”. I make a broth from leftover chicken carcasses, etc, and use it for the base. I use grains from my stockpile, like rice and oats, and generally use canned vegetables. Peas and carrots are a special favorite of the pooches in our house.

I include the skin when cooking the meat for the dogs as well. As with cats, the addition of some bone meal is very important. Since bones are something that would generally be thrown out, I appreciate finding a use for them in the name of less waste. Don’t forget the addition of a healthy fat, like whole eggs or olive oil!

It’s All About the Ratios

Now that you know the basic ratios for good nutrition for your pets, you can use foods that you have in your stockpile/freezer to feed your pets. You may find that your grocery bills drop as you find ways to use less expensive cuts of meat and last day of sale items to feed your pets!

When making your homemade pet food, it’s an excellent time to add supplements like vitamin drops, brewer’s yeast and garlic to keep your pets healthy and parasite-free.

Once you’ve started feeding your pets these homemade nutritious foods, you will notice a lovely glowing coat and far more energy. The nutrition level and lack of preservatives will benefit their health while benefitting your wallet!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published April 9th, 2012
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12 Responses to Pet Food Alternatives for Long-Term Emergencies

  1. EastTenn says:

    Please do not feed your dogs onions or garlic since it can kill them.  Also, grapes and raisins are also very poisonous to dogs.

  2. lisa says:

    sorry, but EastTenn is mistaken. Garlic is very good for dogs, helps keep fleas and ticks at bay.  Onions are ok in moderation, too (and so is chocolate!) Just keep in mind the size of your dog…you wouldn’t feed a 20 pound CHILD a pound of chocolate in one sitting (or an entire onion etc), what would make you think you could feed it to a dog?  My dogs (currently 3 but, have had them all my life) eat what *I* eat…tacos, spaghetti, Thanksgiving dinner including pumpkin pie, etc…except for green beans which they don’t like and will spit out onto the floor.

    • Hoffy Coffy says:

      I have always heard that garlic in moderation, the rest of the listed foods, absolutely not. I think I’d rather believe the Vets on this one than internet threads.

  3. Drain 52 says:

    Sorry guys, but in a long-term emergency we wouldn’t be feeding our pets, they’d be feeding us.

  4. water lily says:

    Grains are the cause of many skin, ear, digestive, and behavioral problems in dogs. Dogs have no biological necessity to eat grains.
    Dogs should eat raw meat/fish/poultry/eggs, veggies, and fruits. They do much better on raw food than cooked food.
    Grapes, raisins, chocolate, macadamia nuts, and onions are poisonous to dogs. There is nothing wrong with feeding them avocado – just don’t feed them the skin or pit – that’s the poisonous part.
    Garlic is fine in small amounts.

  5. Jim says:

    I’m not a veterinarian.
    However, it is intuitively obvious to me that cats and dogs are designed to be carnivores.  They were not designed to digest grains or green beans.
    That is why cats and dogs generally eat the intestines of their prey first- because the prey animal has already pre-digested the grain or grass for them.  Do they need the nutrition of “vegetables”?  Absolutely.  Can cats and dogs digest them?  I think not.
    BTW, cows were also not designed to digest grains.  Makes them fat.  Just like it does to people.

  6. As founder of the largest (only ?) Rottweiler Rescue & Sanctuary in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve handled more dogs than many large size shelters, certainly in a more personal way. 
    We’re holistic and so are the dogs.  Detoxed from heavy metals in vaccinations or pharmaceuticals, they thrive on many of the same natural foods that we do.  Garlic is found in many expensive, quality ready made dog foods and dogs adore it.  As a natural antibiotic, antiviral it helps support their immune system and provides a delicious zip to food.
    Just as humans shouldn’t eat grains, we avoid grains for our dogs, with the exception of Quinoa or Buckwheat.  Left to their own devices there is much to learn from the animals, as they carefully sniff our & select the herbs & grasses of choice.
    Actually, for the most part we eat the same dog food, or they eat the same people food, that we do.  Grass fed, hormone, antibiotic, steroid, distiller grain free meats, veggies, plenty of herbs & hemp & coconut oil.
    Check out our sites.

    • John says:

      Good for you! I’ve had six Rotties over the past twenty years, and in MY opinion, this is the best breed of dog. Very loving, protective, strong, hard working, (and playing).. A great deterent to dirtbags…  Let some fool clime over the fence around my land… the pack wont like that, and nor will I. 
      I’m looking on this site to see if there is a way to package dry kibble for long term storage. I’m seeing vary different points of view on different things to,or not go give a dog. My alpha was eating Pedigree for over sixteen years before he went to heaven three yrs ago. any idea’s on how to bag it for a few yrs & still be safe to feed?
      Oh, so ya know, most dogs will nibble at grasses. not just for upset stomach. read the content list on your food bag. A lot of veggies…

  7. ajax says:

    Clean up dead people

  8. Stealth Spaniel says:

    The following items are POISONOUS to dogs-per UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine :
    ANY Artificial Sweetener
    Yeast Bread Dough
    **Chocolate is especially dangerous. ** This website gives very helpful information:

    The best doggy diet? Cooked chicken, rice, carrots or green beans. Snack-blueberries or apples. 

    The only reason that I stockpile rice is for the dogs-I can’t stand the stuff. And Drain 52-before you eat the pets-just make sure that the bark machine has plenty of battery power to warn you of intruders!!

  9. IBMG says:

    Avocado has a component called Persin that in large quantities is unhealthy to canines. That said, it is not present in large amounts;dogs all dog would ingest several avocados before I’ll effects.  

    The author left out sweet potatoes for dogs.  They love them!  There are even dog treats whose 1st ingredient iis sweet potatoes. The only drawback is the relatively   high price.


  10. Suzanne Hetchler says:

    So okay. You get your ingredients together and cook it. I thought this was a recipe for long term storage and it was for KIBBLE. So after you cook this all together, then what? How do you make it into Kibble?

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