Survival Petcare

The first thing I need to say on this subject is that I’m not a veterinarian[1]. This article isn’t intended to be the animal version of Gray’s Anatomy and won’t discuss every possible ailment to befall pets. The objective is to provide a few examples to serve as reminders that pets can become ill or suffer from infections, and reiterate that it’s your responsibility to treat them as best you can. 

Treating illnesses isn’t going to be easy because our pets can’t speak and tell us what’s making them sick. A dog can’t walk up to you and say my tummy hurts like a child would. The only warning you may have of a stomach problem will be when the dog pukes on the ground. Similarly, animals can’t complain about having chest pains and there won’t be a warning until a heart attack happens.

This may sound harsh, but it’s important to realize early-on that you may lose your furry family member without any notice. Fido could be fine and dandy when you leave the house to forage, only to return to find him on the floor… dead. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but you should be prepared for it nonetheless.

Now that I’ve got the morbid part out of the way, let’s assume there’s nothing terminally wrong with your pet. What happens if he gets sick?

There probably won’t be many veterinarians around after the fall of civilization. If there are, those specialists will likely be repurposed to serve as human doctors and won’t have enough time to help household pets. Depending on the rules of the community, they may be forbidden to “waste” resources on non-essential animals. 

Even after things calm down, I don’t think veterinarians will be able to commit resources to household pets. If vets are allowed to work on animals at all, they may be forced to restrict their services to the maintenance of productive farm animals. 

This ultimately means you will have to treat your pet as best as possible, with what’s available. 

Pet Meds

After a civilization-ending event happens, many veterinarians will close shop and you won’t be able to get specialized pet medicines. So, what do you do if your fur-baby gets sick?

You may be limited to treating the symptoms and hope they naturally recover. Thankfully, a lot of the medicines designed for human consumption can be used on animals without many side effects. It may be a simple matter of changing the dose. 

For example, if a pet is licking one patch of skin, it may indicate an allergic reaction. Most vets advise owners to give Benadryl (or generic equivalent) to treat such allergies. The vet normally advises how much medicine to give, but if the trained professionals don’t exist, it’s your responsibility to estimate the amount all by yourself. 

The directions for drugs are based on human consumption and caution must be used when giving such medicines to an animal. If your pet weighs about the same as your kid, the child dose may be appropriate to use. If smaller than that, you may need to use half the suggested child-dose. 

A few words of caution:

  • If your pet’s the size of a squirrel, maybe you shouldn’t risk an overdose. 
  • Do not use topical creams because it may not be safe for internal consumption, and you almost certainly won’t be able to prevent pets from licking it off. 

Generally, use the common-sense most ordinary people possess.

What about fleas?

How do you treat your dog for fleas? From what I’ve read, the best method is prevention, prevention, prevention. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Bathe your pet regularly (not a viable option for cats).
  • Plant flea-repelling plants like rosemary and mint.
  • Make an herbal flea collar.
  • Mix a tablespoon of vinegar into your pet’s drinking water (test to ensure the pet doesn’t shun the water).
  • Don’t let your pet outside.

After a Flea Infestation

If you have a furry pet, a flea infestation may be inevitable and it’ll seem like you’re fighting a war on multiple fronts when it happens. Not only do you have to eliminate the infestation from your pet, but also from the environment. Many natural remedies for the home require sprinkling baking soda or salt into fabrics to kill the eggs and larvae[2],[3].  

Below are a few of the direct home remedies for treating dogs with fleas:

  • Spraying it with essential oils such as: eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary.
  • Bathing it with any of those same oils, vinegar, and water.
  • Spraying it with vinegar & water.

Vinegar seems to be the most effective treatment according to most of the websites I’ve browsed. If none of these treatments are possible for your household, you may be forced to keep your pets outside… or learn to live as a flea-bitten rascal.

What about Heartworms?

You need to accept the possibility there may not be anything you can do about this parasite. We’ve been told for years that heartworms are inevitable, and that’s why vets tell us to treat dogs monthly for this parasite[4]. If those normal treatments aren’t available because of disaster, that means over time an infected dog will die because the infestation will become so great it can’t properly pump blood through its body. 

With that said, I’ve read from various sources it’s possible to treat your pet for heartworms by feeding it: Pumpkin seeds, carrots, coconut, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and chamomile[5],[6]

If you run out of regular dog food and/or make your pet’s food, adding these ingredients to your pet’s diet can be done with little effort. 

Below are some common symptoms of an uncontrolled heartworm infection[7]:

  • Mild Symptoms: Occasional cough or tiredness after moderate activity.
  • Severe Symptoms: Dog may look unwell, cough persistently, and get tired easily. Dog could have trouble breathing or even show signs of heart failure (wheezing coughing, bloated belly[8]). 

I’d like to finish by reminding readers that if your pet has a life-threatening condition, nothing can replace the medical expertise of a veterinarian. You are responsible for your pet’s medical treatment nowadays, and that will be the case if civilization were to end.

It’s your responsibility to use the professionals if they are available. I hope this article serves as a reminder of your responsibility and that alternative options exist if the SHTF. You are their “first responder” and will have to treat them as best you can, with the materials you have. 


[1] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor, veterinarian, or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you or any other person (and/or pet) has a medical concern, you should consult with a health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on a blog, website, or in any linked materials.

[2] JetPet Resort. (2021, March 1). 30 Ways to Naturally Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs. Retrieved from JetPet Resort: https://jetpetresort.com/blog/dog-care/30-ways-to-naturally-prevent-and-get-rid-of-fleas-on-dogs/

[3] DePino, M. (2022, March 31). 9 ways to get rid of fleas on your dog naturally. Retrieved from BetterPet: https://betterpet.com/how-to-get-rid-of-fleas-naturally/

[4] Heartworm Hoax: Some websites I’ve seen have veterinarian authors who claim your dog probably doesn’t even have heartworms. That’s because heartworms are transmitted between infected animals via mosquitoes. Dogs in a major city way not be susceptible because of all the pesticides and chemicals, whereas a dog in the country probably has heartworms given the swarms of mosquitos in rural areas.

[5] PetPartners. (2021, February 10). 6 Natural Ways to Treat and Prevent Worms. Retrieved from PetPartners: https://www.petpartners.com/blog/pet-health-and-safety/6-natural-ways-to-treat-and-prevent-worms

[6] Chamomile: Chamomile may help treat or prevent other types of worms and parasites.

[7] Henriques, J. (2021, December 12). DIY Heartworm Treatment For Dogs. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-heartworm-treatment/

[8] Bassingthwaighte, D. E. (2021, December 12). Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs: A Holistic Approach. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/congestive-heart-failure-in-dogs-holistic-treatment-options/