Feeding your dog a raw/real food diet doesn’t have to be more complicated when travelling. The key to doing it properly is to be prepared, just like when you’re at home. When you’ve been feeding this way for a while you will have a feel for what your dog needs and what you need to do to provide that. It becomes second nature.
Below are the things that I have come up with that work for me and my dogs.
Day trips are obviously easier to do with dogs for many reasons, especially feeding. Some dogs won’t even eat the first day they leave on a longer trip just from nerves, or excitement. If your dog won’t eat while on the road the trip day, it’s not the end of the world for the most part. Unless your dog has a serious medical condition, a half a day without food can be good for a healthy dog.
For day trips, I feed the dogs their raw meaty bones in the morning before leaving for the day.
I always carry certain canned foods with us on the road, specifically sardines in water, canned tripe, canned salmon, as well as eggs – either cooked or raw. Raw eggs can break on the road so if you have time before leaving, boiling the eggs may save you some mess.
This is mostly what the dogs will get on short day trips for their supper meal. Ira has to have a third meal later because of his mega-esophagus, so when we get home, even if it is late, he will have a small meal of meat and organs. It’s not going to matter if your dog doesn’t get a perfectly balanced meal for one day. In fact, I don’t feed so called “balanced” every day. I balance over the week or two weeks, just like we humans try to do for ourselves.
I always make sure I carry a set of dog bowls in the vehicle so I don’t have to worry about taking their regular ones. When we get home, I bring them in, wash them and put them back in the van immediately so I don’t forget about them and not have them on the next trip. Do things right away like that to make it easier for yourself.
I also have a container for recycling the metal cans. This is a must in this day and age. All metal must be recycled. The cans don’t need to be cleaned meticulously, just emptied and put in a sealed container so they don’t smell up the vehicle. I use a small pail with a lid, but use what you have, it doesn’t have to be fancy.
Camping Trips – Van
These are shorter road trips, usually to a campground nearby. There is always access to food from a store at these campgrounds or within a short drive to the larger centre, so if you run out of something you can usually find a substitute there.
For camping trips shorter than a week, like a weekend or three, four or even five days, feeding my dogs their normal raw meals is easy to do.
We usually travel for fun in our dog van. For these trips, we use a plug in cooler to hold the raw meat. This cooler and another one sits in between the front seats of the van. Some of the meat is frozen and some is partly thawed. The frozen meat will act as ice to cool the rest of the meat when we can’t run the cooler. The cooler plugs into the van dash electrical outlet which we don’t run at night. I simply feed the least frozen meat first and by the last day of the trip the last day’s portions are thawed and ready to eat but still cool. All the meat is pre-proportioned for each dog in containers (we don’t use plastic bags) so I don’t have to cut anything up on the trip.
I also take supplements along with us to add to the meals. I use golden paste, frozen bone broth in ice cube form, and vegetable greens in the same way. I also prepare an organ mix ahead of time. You can freeze portions in ice cube trays or other containers or just eyeball it for you dog. These portions will also thaw slowly and be ready by the time I need them.
It’s important though that you know how much eat dog eats and have only that much with you. If you really need to get more food, you can likely do that easily at a grocery store or butcher shop.
This method works particularly good for going to weekend dogs shows.
For dog shows or dog sports trials, we take our trailer in order to camp on site. This makes it a bit easier to feed raw, but not much. The only difference is really in the space we have for feeding the dogs and a bit more room for storing the food, but again not that much more.
Also, if I choose not to prepare the meals ahead of time at home, I am able to do that because there is a kitchen in the trailer. I can simply bring the different meats and supplements and prepare them on site. I would only do this if I was running out of time at home before we leave for the show. I use containers shown in the photo below.
The fridge in the trailer is just like a big cooler. It is only running if we have our generator or use electrical at a campground. Other than that, the meat still has to be frozen and then slowly thaw before the dogs consume it.
Longer Road Trips
We occasionally take a real vacation which is a longer road trip of five days or more. Feeding raw meals is significantly more difficult on these but not impossible. Again, it just takes preparation and planning. And a little room for adjustments. I will discuss my method for doing this in a separate blog post.