Camping is a big part of summer for our family. From tenting, to a camper van, to a trailer, we have done it all with our dogs while feeding raw. This blog post provides tips that draws from our experiences. Whether you are tenting or in a trailer, there are tips here for everyone to help keep their pup fuelled for adventure!
Camping while feeding raw does require a little extra effort, but with a little planning it can be done. The biggest part of the puzzle is figuring out a system that works best for you and your camping scenario. Once you determine a system that works for you, the less effort it becomes!
CAMPING WITH YOUR RAW FED DOG TIPS
1. DESIGNATE A COOLER FOR DOG FOOD
Designating a cooler for frozen dog food only is a game changer. This way you can limit the amount of times you open the cooler and you don't need to worry about any leakage when thawing.
Pick a cooler size that will be big enough to fit all the food for your dog for the duration of your trips, but small enough that you can pack it tightly. The tubes of food will act as ice keeping each other cool. It's pretty amazing how long the tubes can stay partially frozen when you do this.
Pack the dog food in the cooler right before you leave for your trip. On travel days, feed the dogs before you leave and when you get home (if there is enough time to thaw when you get home). For a quick way to thaw, click here.
Make sure to keep the cooler away from direct sunlight and stored away in a vehicle to prevent any unwanted visitors to your site!
ALTERNATIVE COOLER TIPS:
Depending on your camping situation, you could consider an electric cooler. Back in the day when we had a Westfalia van, this was a lifesaver as it gave us two fridge options while travelling - enough space for all our food.
If hauling around more than one cooler is not possible, pack all the frozen dog food on the bottom of your cooler. Make sure it's in a container or bags to prevent cross contamination. Then pack the rest the food on top. Just like above, the tubes of food will act like ice and will help keep the contents cool for a period of time. Add ice as needed, especially on longer trips.
2. THAW ONLY WHAT IS NEEDED
Your goal (if you don't have a trailer with a freezer) is to keep the food frozen for as long as possible. Take out enough food to thaw that will last your dog for 1-2 days. Bring along a container with you that will fit the thawed food to store in another cooler or the same cooler as the frozen dog food.
You could consider portioning out the food prior to leaving and placing in bags or a storage container. The food can be thawed enough so you can slice through with a knife, place in your storage option, then refreeze. Take out and put in cooler when it's time to go.
3. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Stick to the foundation of a raw diet when you are away: muscle meat, bone, organs. If you are someone who prepares your own veggie mixes for your dogs, consider this your break from the veggie prep (unless you really want to and have the space to store it). Your dog will survive just fine without fruit or vegetable supplementation for the 1-2 weeks you are camping.
For those dogs who can't go without some vegetable supplementation, our Doggy Moggy Veggie options would be a good fit. Or our Red Rover organic berry mix is a simple way to supplement your dogs food on the road.
4. FREEZE DRIED OR DEHYDRATED FOOD
Sometimes raw is just out of the question. And that's ok! The next best thing that won't wreak havoc on your dogs digestion while away is Freeze Dried or Dehydrated Dog food.
What to look for:
- Brands that are a whole meal deal (meat, organs, bone). Some are sold as food toppers, so be sure to look at the ingredients to confirm what's included.
- Watch out for synthetic vitamins and minerals. Ideally the ingredient list should include as much real food ingredients as possible.
- Look for FREEZE DRIED RAW as some may be labelled as Freeze Dried Cooked Food
Most freeze dried foods will have some added preservatives to help prevent spoilage. Look for foods that have tocopherols or rosemary extract as these are options that are safer for dogs in small amounts.
I have to be honest, finding something that fits the requirements above is hard. Do the best you can within your budget and dogs requirements. I found two options that might work for you: Smack Pet Food and Steve's Real Food. If you find others, please share in the comments below for the #granddograwpack to see!
Source your freeze dried food a month or two before you go camping so you can do a trial run with your dog. The last thing you want on your camping trip is to deal with food issues. (This goes for anything you might take on your trip - take only food you know your dog will enjoy and try new foods before you leave!)
Finally - remember to take some hand sanitizer along to have ready when you are dishing out your pups meals!
I hope you found some of these tips helpful! Please share your thoughts and tips with the #granddograwpack below in the comments!
Amanda Monsma (she/her)
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