With the beautiful summer weather right around the corner, you are probably busy planning your much-needed vacation, whether it is a hiking trip through the mountains, a camping trip in a lush green forest, or a relaxing weekend at the beach. However, for us dog owners, there is always an extra question on the list: Are we going to bring our dogs on the trip with us or not?
While not all dog owners would entertain the idea of bringing their dogs along on a trip, here at Volhard, it is our stern belief that bringing our dogs along on our travels or camping trips is more than beneficial for both the dog owner and their canine companion. After all, dogs are pack animals who enjoy nothing more than being alongside you, the pack leader. Furthermore, if you are an adventure geek, allowing your dog to partake in your travels will only strengthen their courage, curiosity, and willingness to discover new places by sniffing, exploring, and playing with you in a new place.
Even if you don’t regularly feed your dog a dehydrated diet at home, they’re great for camping for a number of reasons:
- Lightweight. If you’re backpacking for several days, opting for freeze-dried proteins and/or dehydrated dog food will seriously lighten your load
- Hydration. In case your dog doesn’t always drink as much water as you would like and you worry about dehydration, especially after long days on the trail. Dogs are designed to get moisture from their food and kibble doesn’t provide that. Since most dehydrated foods require rehydration, then your pup will be forced to drink more water.
- Filled with nutrients. Healthy foods will help repair sore muscles after hard exercise, keeping your dog’s muscles and joints ready for the next adventure.
Preparing Your Dog’s Food for Travel
Worried about feeding a fresh natural diet in the woods? What if you have to feed on the go? I promise you that you can make it happen and will find your rhythm as you practice traveling with your dog. The Volhard foundation mixes are dehydrated so they take up very little space and pack really easily. If you are not going into the wild and have access to a store- then just bring with you the foundation mix and pick up some ground protein ata store nearby. If you are adventuring into the wild and have to carry what you need then you may consider the following tips:
- Pack one frozen raw meaty bone meal to give your dog the evening you arrive at your backpacking destination. Make sure it is something you KNOW your dog agrees with. If your dog doesn't want to eat it for some reason, it is highly recommended that you try again later or cook it for your own meal.
- Pack a couple cans of canned fish (yes, it adds to the weight load, and yes, you have to pack the tins out and pack a can opener of sorts, but they are a quick and easy protein source) like canned mackerel or salmon. If you don't have a collapsible travel dish (which is recommended for water), just use a paper plate or a flat rock to put the fish on.
- If you are going to fish while backpacking, catch some for your dog, too! Fresh fish will be a delicious meal. Just make sure to check the mouth, throat, and stomach for fish hooks before feeding, and cut off any spines that may be present on the fish. Do not feed your dog fresh Pacific salmonids like salmon and trout.
- You can look into getting a few freeze-dried proteins for your dog; these can be expensive, and it might actually be more worthwhile to share your own meals with your dog.
- Eggs can also be packed in, and these make a delicious meal. There are plastic egg-holders that are fairly effective in protecting the eggs from being broken.
Try not to resort to feeding kibble, as this is only a quick fix and it can cause quite a few problems in a raw fed dog. Being in the middle of nowhere and having a dog that has diarrhea, is vomiting, is constipated, or is bloating (which is life-threatening) because of eating kibble instead of raw food can make for a very short and unpleasant trip (not to mention the fact that squirrels and other critters LOVE kibbled dog food, and that the kibble can quickly become rancid and moldy given the proper weather conditions).
Still need more ideas? How about making and packing some breakfast bars?
Starting Your Dog’s Day with Breakfast Bars
For the start of the day, Wendy Volhard, our founder and author of Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog, created an easy recipe for healthy breakfast bars served together with yogurt and your dog's food supplements. You will be baking these breakfast bars before the trip; the baking process will remove the moisture from the ingredients, so make sure that your dog receives extra water with their meal.
Recipe for Breakfast Bars:
- 4 cups oats
- 1 cup buckwheat or millet, wheat, or barley
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup boiling water
- 8 tablespoons cold-pressed safflower oil
- 8 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- 4 medium eggs with shells
How to prepare:
- Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl with 1 cup of boiling water.
- Place on a well-greased baking pan and cook at 350°F for 45 minutes.
- Take out, score into squares, and place on a wire rack to cool.
- For a more crispy texture, leave the breakfast bars inside the oven after turning it off and leave overnight to dry out more.
Packing Your Dog’s Food
As you are preparing your dog’s meals, another thing that you must consider is their timing. Dogs have a Swiss-like accurate biological clock and they do best on a regular schedule, even when you are traveling.
The easiest way to ensure that your dog receives the proper amount of nutrients during the trip is carefully planning their meals. If you are a Volhard Natural Diet Foundation enthusiast, things are all the easier since preparing your dog's meat for the trip is all you have to do.
The first step would be diving the meat into an adequate number of meals. Proceeding on this path is essential since going back and forth on defrosting and refreezing meat is not healthy. Make sure that you allow the meat enough time to unfreeze before the meal.
Second, you want to shape the meat in a way that's easy to handle and travel-friendly. For that, we have meatballs! Once you have the meatballs ready and adequately packed into, let’s say, ZiplocTM bags, you can put each of them into a bowl and add water and the Natural Diet Foundation, and voilà, your dog's delicious, healthy meal is ready! For a complete guide on how to prepare your dog's meal with the Volhard Natural Diet Foundation, our Volhard team is ready to assist you in the process.
The bottom line is, your vacation will be more fun and more enjoyable with your canine companion by your side. Be creative, and don't be discouraged by the "difficulty" in camping or backpacking with a raw-fed pet. Where there is a will, there's a way. Yes, you must be more creative in feeding your pet, and you might have to dedicate more time to planning ahead for your pet than before, but the rewards of a happy, healthy, raw-fed animal far outweigh the difficulties. Be flexible and open to trying new ideas. For that reason, our Volhard Natural Diet Foundation is to make sure that your dog's nutritional needs are met in an easy, streamlined approach even when traveling. To learn more about how to feed fresh to your dog and travel, feel free to contact us or check out our blog!