The topic of pets is a somewhat divisive one in the prepping community. While some people consider their pets part of the family and wouldn’t dream of leaving them behind when SHTF, others see them as an unnecessary hindrance and an extra mouth to feed.
How Your Pet Can Help You When SHTF
Both sides of the argument certainly have their points. But seeing as it’s National Puppy Day, we thought we’d talk about how having a dog can be very beneficial in the world of survival and preparedness. (Plus…bonus pictures of cute dogs! Who can say no to that?)
1. Dogs Can Predict the Weather
When I was growing up, my family had an old German Shepherd who was almost completely blind and deaf, but she had a “sixth sense” when it came to the weather. When the dog laid in a certain corner of my parents’ room, we knew there was bad weather coming — and it never failed, several hours later a thunderstorm would roll in. This is a common phenomenon in dogs. According to Pedigree.com:
With their keen ears, canines can hear at much higher and lower frequencies than we do. A dog can hear a faraway rumble of thunder that you might miss. In addition, a dog’s nose is so sensitive, it can detect odors a billion times better than humans. Yes, a billion! Since lightning ionizes air with the formation of ozone—which has a characteristic metallic smell—it’s possible that dogs detect this odor, or some other odor, associated with the storm.
Dogs are also more attuned to changes in barometric pressure than humans. A drop in pressure signals that conditions may be right for a storm to develop. So a dog may learn to associate the feeling of a pressure drop with the arrival of a storm.
In a survival situation, knowing beforehand that inclement weather is brewing would give you time to prepare and seek shelter from the storm. Your canine friend could help you out by acting as your own personal meteorologist.
2. Dogs Can Sense Disease in Humans
Dogs have been proven to sense even early-stage cancers in humans, as well as diseases such as epilepsy, diabetes, neurological disorders and more (source.) In a survival situation where doctors or traditional medicine might not be available, having a dog with this ability could save your life.
3. Dogs Keep You Active and Healthy
There’s no such thing as a lazy dog owner. Dogs, especially the larger and more intelligent breeds, require a lot of exercise and stimulation. Whether it’s playing fetch, going for a hike or just walking around the neighborhood, having a dog will help you stay active and in shape. And as we all know, being fit and healthy is one of the best ways to be prepared. According to DogVacay.com:
Dog owners have been found to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, and according to a study by the British Journal of Health (2004), dog owners also have the added benefit of having fewer medical problems than those without pets.
4. Dogs Are Good Judges of Character
In a SHTF situation, it’s hard to know who you can trust. Your dog can help. Most dogs are astute judges of character, and if your dog is acting suspicious or not like himself around a new person, you may have good reason not to trust them. According to TheDodo.com:
Dogs are highly sensitive of pheromones which we are not aware of. This is the reason dogs can predict possible danger. They can get to know about the intention of a person we meet by sensing their subtle facial expressions and body language. Not only dogs can make you aware about any danger from a person, they are also good at detecting bombs, drugs etc.
If your dog shows unusual dislike towards someone, he is making you aware about the potential threat that person can present to you.
5. Dogs Keep Kids from Developing Allergies
If you have little ones, owning a dog while they’re young — or even while you’re pregnant! — can provide huge health benefits for their entire lifespan. According to MentalFloss.com:
While dogs can be one of the worst triggers for people with allergies, growing up in a house with a dog makes children less likely to develop allergies over the course of their lives. Even if you were just a fetus when your mother lived with a dog, you are still less likely to be bothered by animal hair and dander, or to develop eczema as an adult.
6. Dogs Have a Great Sense of Direction
We hear news stories all the time of a dog finding its way back home after being separated from its owners for weeks or even years. This is because dogs and other animals use a combination of senses and perceptions to find their way and remember where they came from. According to SmartAnimalTraining.com:
The vestibular system located in their inner ear provides constant feedback about their rotations and accelerations. When walking, they also get information from their body movements. They have an idea of how many steps they took between two points. This of course happens unconsciously, the dogs are not purposely counting how many steps they took. Combining these two sets of information will allow dogs to get a sense of where they came from, like a vector pointing in that direction.
For an outdoorsman or survivalist, having a dog with this “sixth sense” could be very beneficial and even life-saving. Being lost in the wilderness can be terrifying and dangerous, but it is less so when you have a trusted companion who can show you the way back home.
7. Dogs Keep Kids Entertained and Distracted
In a disaster situation — especially one where electrical power has been compromised — kids can often become frightened, bored and restless. Having a dog around can ease the burden on parents by giving the kids a distraction in the form of a comforting companion.
8. Dogs Make Us Happy
Dogs are called “man’s best friend” for a reason. Dogs provide unconditional love, a sense of companionship, and have been proven to ease the symptoms of disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, depression and PTSD. Dogs can also give us a sense of purpose. Many people suffering from depression or grieving the loss of a loved one have reported that having a dog gave them a reason to keep going. It’s easy to see how these benefits could serve us well in a survival situation where it may seem like all hope is lost.
What’s your favorite thing about your canine companion? Let us know in the comments!
Prepping with pets provides a unique set of challenges, but it’s also very rewarding. To make sure your pets are just as prepared as you are, check out our articles on bug out bags for pets and homemade survival pet food. PLUS: How to Make a Paracord Dog Collar.
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