So, you want to take your four legged friend on an adventure! That is fantastic! Just as it is important to be prepared yourself, it is equally important to be prepared to take care of your dog.
One of the questions I seem to get often, is how to go about feeding your dog on outings. The following are a few points to consider, as you plan.
The importance of having clean water available is going to be assumed in this article, as that is usually understood to be vitally important.
When preparing to take your dog on adventures, the first thing you would want to do is look at what you feed at home. When out on adventures, like a multi-day backpacking trip, it is best to feed a high protein, with little to no grain diet. Because this may be different from what is normally fed at home, it is best to make a gentle transition to the ‘adventure’ diet prior to going on the adventure.
Some dogs need an adjustment period to a different diet. Being out on the trails with a dog with diarrhea is not fun for anyone, including the dog. While we are talking about diarrhea, I want to encourage you NOT to feed your dog “table food”, especially out on an adventure. Again, this helps to ward off an upset stomach.
Most likely, adventures will give a lot more opportunity for your canine partner to use up calories, therefore, your dog(s) will need more food to sustain, and keep their energy level optimal. If you are like me, the word “more” in the context of backpacking is cause for concern.
There are options, if you are concerned about the extra weight. While they generally come with an extra cost, there are several options for freeze dried dog foods. Simply adding very warm water to these foods will make an excellent meal for dogs out on the trails. There are also bars made specifically for dogs, that can replace a meal.
Another way to increase caloric intake, without having to add more food, is to substitute a portion of your dog’s food with puppy food. Puppy food has more protein and calories than adult dog food. I will add here though, that I have had dogs that get diarrhea when they consume puppy food as an adult. Again, test this before hitting the trails.
As for treats along the way, I suggest you keep these to a minimum, as to not damper their desire to eat their quality meal at the end of the day. I know, though, that we do love to spoil our dogs, and if your day is especially long, treats will happen! I suggest you look for treats that have turmeric, which can work as an anti-inflammatory. Also, pumpkin will aid in a healthy intestinal tract, and again, help keep your dog’s bowels working well. I actually make my own treats with these ingredients.
One situation that comes up for discussion sometimes is the term “dog bloat”. WebMD explains this dangerous situation well. While vets are not completely sure what causes this to happen, suggestions to help prevent include:
- Not feeding with dog’s head elevated
- Not feeding a huge meal right before or after strenuous activities
- Do not allow dog(s) to consume water or food too quickly.
- If dog(s) are stressing over anything, (new environment), settle the dog down before feeding.
Hope this gives you a good starting place for learning how to keep your dog(s) happy and healthy out on your adventures!!
Happy trails and tails!!
Hello! My name is Rene’, and my favorite side kick is Hendrix The Hiking Dog! Hendrix and I are happiest when we are out on a trail, searching for that next great view, or interesting find. I love to share our adventures through words and pictures! Being an RN by profession, I also enjoy learning and sharing information about how to keep humans and canines safe on the trails. I have just completed my Wilderness Medicine for Medical Professionals, thru NOLS, and am very excited about what is to come with this new certification. You can read all about our adventures on our new (and perhaps still under construction) website www.HikingWithHendrix.com and if you Google “Hiking With Hendrix” you will find all of our social media channels. I look forward to interacting with each and every one of you!!!
Happy and safe adventure wishes to you!