How do I feed my dog raw food when I travel?

Ace has been eating pre-prepared raw dog food patties for the last couple of weeks. Although these patties are a convenient way to feed my dog raw food at home, they’re not so convenient for traveling.

Ace and I drove five hours to visit my parents in Wisconsin last weekend. I did not want to risk packing his frozen raw dog food patties in a cooler, so I had to think of something else.

I ended up bringing along his dry dog food (Evo) and feeding him that for the weekend. He seemed to do just fine with the temporary switch, but there are other options.

How to feed a dog raw food when you travel

One thing to keep in mind is your dog’s sensitive digestive system. Make sure you do not feed him anything new while you travel. Don’t switch him to a dry food he has eaten in a few months. Don’t switch him to a freeze-dried raw dog food with a different protein source than he’s used to. Don’t even feed him new dog treats or bones. A dog with explosive diarrhea is the last thing you want to worry about during your roadtrip!

Here are the options I considered for my dog Ace when we went on a roadtrip last weekend:

Feed your dog dry dog food during your trip.

I decided to pack and feed Ace dry dog food during our trip. This seemed like the easiest way to go. I thought Ace would be fine eating dry food for just a day and a half, and I was right. He ate raw food on Friday before we left, dry food for both meals on Saturday and one meal dry and one meal raw on Sunday. No big deal.

I was hesitant to switch him back to dry dog food for the weekend because I have heard that dogs do not do well when switching from raw food (easy on the body to digest) to dry food (difficult to digest). Still, other dog owners swear their dogs are fine when they eat one dry meal and one raw meal every day or even when they mix the two for every meal. I’m sure it depends on the dog and the specific foods the dog is eating.

Ace might’ve had an easier time switching back to dry food for the weekend because he had only been eating 100 percent raw for five days. He had just eaten his dry food the previous weekend.

If I do continue feeding Ace raw food for the longterm, it might be worth it to feed him dry food once a week or so. That way if I feed him dry food on vacation, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise on his system.

Feed commercial freeze-dried raw dog food while traveling.

Another option I looked into was buying some freeze-dried raw dog food for the weekend. This is great for traveling because it does not have to be refrigerated or frozen. Since the price of freeze-dried raw dog food is much higher than dry food, I went with dry.

I also did not want to risk Ace getting sick from eating a brand new type of food. He’s never eaten freeze-dried raw food before. If I ever do feed him freeze-dried dog food while traveling, I will feed it to him for two to three days as a trial before we leave town.

Buy commercial raw dog food once you reach your destination.

This wasn’t a realistic option for me because I was headed to a small town in Wisconsin. I arrived at 9 p.m. and even if there was a natural pet food store in town, it probably wouldn’t be open that late on a Friday.

If you are headed to a larger city and you are getting there at a convenient time to pick up some raw dog food, then maybe this could be a realistic option for you.

Hopefully you are staying with understanding pet owners with a lot of freezer space. Be considerate and ask them ahead of time if it’s OK for your dog to eat raw food at their house, and if it’s OK to use their freezer for storage. A lot of people are really bothered by dogs eating raw meat, and they are afraid of coming into contact with bacteria.

If you are staying at a hotel, ask for a room with a mini fridge and freezer and bring your own cooler along just in case.

I would rather feed my dog dry food during a trip than risk staying in a hotel room without a freezer and worrying that my cooler is not cold enough. Those mini fridges with a tiny “freezer” on top don’t seem very cold to me.

Buy raw dog food ingredients like raw chicken from the grocery store once you arrive.

Buying ingredients for your dog’s meals at the local supermarket could be an option depending on where you are going, the time of day you are arriving and who you are staying with.

Again, I wouldn’t do this unless you have experience making your dog’s raw meals and he’s used to eating homemade raw food. Feed him foods he has eaten recently so you know he won’t get an upset stomach.

Can I leave raw dog food for my dog if he stays at a kennel?

That depends on each individual boarding facility. I pet sit a lot of dogs and I will absolutely feed dogs and cats raw food while their owners are away. I used to work at a boarding kennel, and even in 1999, dog owners were requesting that we feed their dogs raw. We did, and it really wasn’t a big deal.

If you are going to leave your dog at a kennel, dog daycare or pet sitter’s house, just make sure to ask in advance if it is OK to leave raw food for your dog. Make sure whoever is caring for your dog understands what raw feeding involves – keeping the food frozen, washing the bowls and feeding area, etc. You’ll probably find that most dog care businesses are eager to go out of their way for you. They want your dog’s routine to be as normal as possible while you are away.

If your dog’s particular kennel or pet sitter is not willing to feed raw food, then you may want to consider leaving your dog somewhere else. Or, you could switch your dog to dry food while you are away. Start feeding him dry food about a week before you leave in order to make sure his digestive system is doing OK with the switch. That way he won’t have a tummy-ache when you are gone. You’ll also spare his caregiver some cleanup work 🙂

My dog eats raw dog food – day 42 update

Ace is continuing to do well eating raw dog food. I’m glad I didn’t decide to end the trial after he got sick from pneumonia and then his antibiotics.

There is not a whole lot to report other than he did just fine eating dry food for the weekend. I’ll probably feed him dry food every time we travel.

Ear infections

Ace’s ears seem normal. A few days ago, I thought he might be getting an ear infection, but today he seems fine. He is not shaking his head or scratching his ears anymore.

Itchy skin/dandruff

Ace is generally still itchy. He scratches all the time (most noticeably when I’m trying to sleep). And he still licks and chews his paws a lot.

Less poop!

Much of the same – small, hard turds that magically start to disappear into the ground if I don’t pick them up right away. Sometimes they are a bit crumbly. Maybe someone can tell me what that means. I wonder if he needs more fat in his diet – he’s about as lean as dogs can be!

My dog is always thirsty

Ace is burping and spitting up water in his mouth quite often – gross, I know. He throws up at least once a day when he gets too excited like when he runs up the stairs or chases after a ball. He also does this if he drinks too much water, so it’s a common occurrence at our house. It’s gotten worse since he’s been eating raw food.

Ace was very thirsty during our weekend trip while he ate dry food. I was giving him less water while we traveled, and he acted very thirsty all weekend. He took advantage of every opportunity to drink from the toilet – that’s my boy!

Now that we are home and he’s back to eating raw food, he hasn’t been as thirsty. He’s had water available all day and he’s only drank about 4 cups so far. He drinks about 8 cups of water per day.

Energy

Like always, my dog is pretty lazy. He’s still catching up on sleep from our “exciting” weekend. He is content to sleep the entire day. I have to make a point to take him out for at least one fun walk/fetch session each day even if he’s not full of energy.

Do you feed your dog raw dog food? What do you feed him when he travels?



23 thoughts on “How do I feed my dog raw food when I travel?”

  1. I don’t think you need to have experience to feed raw, ‘cus then no one would do it! You need to start somewhere, and it’s quite easy to do. Don’t let the kibble companies make you believe you can’t feed your dog, it’s just silly!

    Freeze dried’s definitely my favorite for long trips. If you’re only going for a day or so you can bring a cooler with frozen solid food. Feed your pup a bit more than usual the day before you leave, so you can feed a bit less the two days you’re out there. The food should be fine for at least 2 days. And remember that your dog will be more than happy to eat meat that you would have chucked a long time ago. (And won’t get sick from it.)

    And if you’re going for more than 2-3 days, make sure you find a grocery store that sells meat, and you should be fine for a while.

  2. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for the tips, Ettel! Much appreciated as always! 🙂 Good point about packing meat that is frozen solid. It takes Ace’s frozen patties about 24 hours to defrost in the fridge.

  3. We once went on a 2-week road trip car camping all over Utah with two dogs. I fed them raw for the entire trip by relying on two dog food dedicated coolers that we kept restocked with ice. We started the trip with one cooler packed with frozen chicken parts and ground meat/veggie meals. I would thaw each meal in the second cooler. We also stopped at grocery stores along the way to replenish the chicken. I supplemented the meat meals with raw eggs, canned fish and cottage cheese. The dogs did fine except for one night of diarrhea that I attributed to the dogs getting overheated while hiking.

    Lindsey, I think I’m pretty relaxed about feeding this way because I’ve been doing it for 15 years and have rarely had my dogs get sick from the food. I’ve attended weekend agility trials, flyball tournaments etc and just packed up their frozen meals and it’s always worked out fine. It does take more planning and attention to hygiene though than just bringing along a bag of kibble.

    1. Melissa Victoria

      Thanks for this susan. I plan to start raw food within the month on my pup (chronic loose stools her entire life, nothing has helped so far and then vets have no idea what to tell me other than to try another protein). I also plan to take a road trip from NYC to Miami and was starting to wonder about how I would feed her on this trip. I think if I come up with a realistic feeding plan, it can be done.

      1. Hi Susan,
        I have a Bouvier who has also had loose stools since I adopted him in April. I switched him to raw food in the morning and a high quality kibble at night with a tablespoon of yogurt with active cultures and a tablespoon of 100% pumpkin. At both meals I add a tablespoon of whole oats. It has done the trick. He now has firm stools. And he has changed from being a picky eater to being an enthusiastic eater.

  4. My humans pack my food frozen (ready made pet mince similar to what Ace is eating) and add lots of ice on top – that seems to keep it cool for a real long time. We’ve been renting cottages or flats rather than hotel rooms which works out cheaper and they have freezers 🙂

  5. We travel a fair amount for flyball so I got a small cooler for Sophie’s food. She eats primal so I just pack in plastic baggies her meals and fill up the cooler with ice. Most of my teammates do the same thing (our team is about 70% primal fed).

    I have been considering Honest Kitchen or Nature’s Variey freeze dried raw but so far the cooler is working out well for us.

  6. I used to feed strictly raw (as in fresh food) but it became too expensive. Now I feed Honest Kitchen since it’s made from raw, just dehydrated. I could always pack the box to measure out how many meals I need if I ever have to travel and bring him with me.

    If I couldn’t bring the food, I’d probably go with the raw food from the store while away. That’s what he was on before, so I think he could take it. He also gets some tidbits or even a meal of homemade food if it’s safe for him to eat.

  7. As with most things you really care about, if you take some extra time to plan accordingly you can probably still feel your dog raw successfully while traveling. I’m glad Ace did fine with his switch back for the weekend. That probably isn’t such a bad way to go if you’re only going to be away for a couple of days.

  8. I don’t know if you mentioned it (I just skimmed this article), but S&C has freeze dried as well! It’s a bit more expensive than the frozen, but the same ingredients, just able to be taken on the road.
    If you are feeding your dog store-bought raw food, be very careful about what vitamins, minerals, and essential ingredients you dog is getting! If he doesn’t get a multivitamin and calcium supplement, he could be deficient! Chicken and veggies from the supermarket are NOT ENOUGH.
    ALSO, there is a great semi-homemade food out there called Dr. Harvey’s. I’ve never tried it or known anyone who has, but it’s got all sorts of different products that are balanced once a protein and oil (and maybe a couple other ingredients depending on the kind you get) are added. I think it’s really cool! It lets you feed your dog from the grocery store, but you can be sure he’s getting all of his doggie nutrients!
    Hope this helped!! 🙂

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    I have heard of Dr. Harvey’s. Perhaps it’s something to look into further. However, I do not buy the idea that my dog can’t get all the nutrients he needs from a commercial raw diet or from food I prepare for him. It’s a waste of money to go overboard with extra supplements.

    1. I didn’t mean to say that your dog can’t get enough nutrients from a commercial diet. ANY dog food you buy that says either “maintenance” or “complete and balanced” on it is all you need to feed your dog (if you want), no extra supplementation necessary. It’s when you are only feeding your dog meats and veggies from the grocery store that you can lack. I’ve read more than one book on the topic. I’m not saying your dog will die if you just give him food you’d eat, but he may not be getting enough of what he needs.
      There is a great cookbook that I got from the library called “Real Food For Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes for a Healthier Dog” by Arden Moore that has fully balanced meals (you can use as examples) just to get an idea.
      I don’t work for Stella & Chewys don’t worry. I just know about it. I couldn’t afford it for my dog if I had one (don’t know of many who can honestly), but I do know it’s a great food.

  10. Lindsay Stordahl

    Yep, I hear ya. Thanks for clarifying and thanks for your comments! I got your email as well – I’ll get back to you soon! That cookbook sounds interesting. I wonder if our library has it.

  11. You wrote that your dog had small, hard turds that magically start to disappear into the ground if you don’t pick them up right away that are sometimes a bit crumbly.

    That means your dog is needs more meat with out the bone. I don’t feed commerical raw because I can not control what is in it.

  12. I travel regularly for my job and it’s usually for 1-2 weeks at a time. I always have to board my weimaraner when I do this and I bring her natural food with her in a plastic container and I instruct the people at the boarding place how to feed her. If you find a good boarding place then they should do as you tell them.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks for your comment, Tom. I agree, a good boarding kennel should be open to feeding a dog raw food.

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