Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ask Billy: What Do I Feeding Fido In An Emergency?

Bean's Mom from Miami writes: If you and your dog were by chance to be stuck on a desert island (or in a Miami hurricane, say) without your fancy prescription food or gourmet raw diet, what would you feed your pet? Protein? Would he need carbs and vegetables too?

Dogs do indeed require protein, carbs, fat and vitamins and minerals to thrive. A high quality food with a meat (protein) from an identified animal like "Chicken" or "Lamb" as the primary ingredient is the best source of nutrients. If the protein isn't the name of an animal you're familiar with, it's bad news. Steer clear of any food that has unspecified meat, such as "poultry by-products" or "meat and bone meal" or fillers such as "__ pulp" or "__ pomace." No good food will include artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

Click here for some official definitions of ingredients in pet food. The websites of many high quality pet foods include detailed information on the ingredients used in their products. Wellness, for example, has a detailed ingredients dictionary on its site.

Now, to your questions...

If stranded on a desert island assuming there is no regular food drop sponsored by a reclusive billionaire ex-arms dealer who decided to atone for his actions and help humanity, it's ok to share your dinner with Fido. Just be sure to follow basic canine food safety rules. Trim away excess fat from the wild boar and don't give Fido bones, chocolate or seeds, stems or leaves from fruits or vegetables. Click here for more food safety information.

For dealing with natural disasters....

Whether you live in Miami or Maine, every pet in your household should have his own emergency kit. Use an extra crate or pet carrier to hold the supplies. Clearly label the container with your pet’s name, your name and contact information and your veterinarian’s phone number.

Each emergency kit should include:
  • A current photo of the pet
  • Veterinary records including vaccination history
  • Species appropriate first aid manual and kit
  • A seven day supply of food and treats to minimize stress during a difficult situation. Changing food on the fly can cause stomach upset. If Fido eats canned food, pack a manual can opener.
  • A seven day supply of water and medicine. Pack copies of any prescriptions.
  • Poop bags
  • Blanket and a favorite toy
  • Leash and harness
  • Food and water bowls
Your pet should ALWAYS be wearing an identification tag with legible, current information and have a microchip. Click here for additional information on disaster preparedness.


  1. Raw bones would be fine on the island, but not cooked! :D
    Also, things like 'bone meal' are fine in foods low in the ingredient list b/c they can boost calcium.

    Some of the healthiest dogs are on raw feeding with bones included! :D Those island dogs would do great!

  2. The problem with "meat meal" and "meat and bone meal" is that they are rendered from unspecified animals. For instance, the AAFCO definitions state that the rendered tissue and or bones can come from a "mammal" -- we have no idea which mammal, where it came from or how/why it died. Way too sketchy for us.

    Jill's dog eats a raw food diet (supplemented with kibble) but the bones are crushed up into the food so there's (virtually) no danger of choking or obstruction.