Whether you’re heading out for a casual afternoon hike or a multi-day backpacking adventure, your dog’s nutrition is an important part of planning a successful trip. This includes the food that he eats before or during the hike as well as healthy treats to reward him along the way. Let’s take a look at what you should feed your dog while hiking.
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What is the Healthiest Treat for Dogs?
With so many different dog treats on the market, you may find yourself stuck on what to buy. What is the healthiest treat for dogs? What should you be watching out for?
When it comes to dog treats, the general rule of thumb is that less is more. This doesn’t mean searching for the smallest bag or the smallest treat sizes. I’m talking about the ingredients list. Single-ingredient treats or those with minimal ingredients make it easy for you to choose something for your dog that is tasty and free from unnecessary additives.
A few of our go-to treats with our pack include:
- Charlee Bear Grain Free Crunch Dog Treats
- PureBites Ocean Whitefish Freeze-Dried Treats
- Crumps’ Naturals Salmon Snaps Mini Trainers
- Fruitables Skinny Mini Dog Treats
- Icelandic+ Mini Cod Fish Chips
- Zuke’s Mini Naturals Training Treats
- Anything and everything made by Northern Dog Biscuit Bakery
If you’re looking for an easy way to offer your dog high-quality treats on a budget, another option is to make your own. Before you shrug off the idea, picturing fancy baked creations in cute Instagram-worthy shapes and designs, hear us out. There are many great ways to make incredibly easy dog treats that will have your pups drooling in anticipation.
Plain Chicken Breast
This is a great training treat option if your dog is just learning how to behave while hitting the trails. It’s a high-value treat that offers a healthy source of protein. To prepare the chicken in a dog-friendly way, cook it without using any spices, seasoning, onions, or garlic. The method of cooking is up to you – you can poach it, grill it, or bake it. Remove any bones or skin, then either shred the chicken or cut it up into small bite-sized pieces.
Sweet Potato Chews
One great option for camping is to dehydrate sweet potatoes to create healthy, single-ingredient dog chews. They keep well on the trial and our dogs all love them. The best part? They are surprisingly easy, needing only 5 minutes of prep time.
To begin, preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice two sweet potatoes up into slices that are approximately ¼ inch thick. Line a baking pan with parchment paper then spread out your sweet potato slices on the pan in a single layer. Bake your chews for approximately 3 hours, flipping them at least once during this time, or until you notice that they are starting to crisp up in the thinner places.
If you cut your sweet potato lengthwise, it will create a larger chew that your dog can enjoy when taking a break on your hike. Or you can cut it into round coin-like slices or smaller pieces that you can feed while on the go.
Like the sweet potato chews, banana chips are made by dehydrating slices of banana. You can line the pan with parchment paper or, for a tropical twist, use coconut oil to grease the pan before laying out your banana chips. Bake them for approximately 3 hours at 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Like all fruits, bananas contain natural sugars. This makes banana chips great energy treats for dogs on longer hikes.
Should I Feed My Dog While Hiking?
Whether you need to feed your dog while hiking or not is going to largely depend on the length of time that you are planning on.
For short, intense hikes, you may want to hold off on the food. Just as food can upset your stomach before a workout, the same is true for your dog. When planning a shorter trip, feed your dog at least 30 minutes to an hour before heading out. This will give his body time to digest the food before heading out.
If you are planning a longer trip or a multi-day adventure, you are going to have to consider what to feed your dog while hiking to give him the energy to keep going. Your dog is going to need to intake more calories than he would on a regular day to provide the extra calories that are burned while hiking. At the same time, you don’t want to feed too much food at any one time.
The best approach when feeding a dog on a hike is to offer several smaller meals spread throughout the course of the day.
How Do You Feed Your Dog on a Hike?
Now that you have determined whether you need to feed your dog while hiking, you need to decide on the best food and supplies to bring along on your trip. For those that usually feed kibble, this may seem like an easy decision. But dog parents who feed raw or fresh foods may have to consider alternate options. Dog food for hiking needs to be easy to transport without taking up too much space in your pack.
If you’re planning a longer backpacking trip, you can cut down on the weight of your dog’s food by choosing a calorie-rich kibble. This will allow your dog to consume the nutrition needed for the hike in a smaller volume of food. One trick used by many hikers for backpacking dog food is to switch your dog to a puppy kibble for the trip. These foods are formulated to support the needs of a growing puppy, with a denser calorie content than most adult dog foods.
Raw-fed dogs and those that are usually fed fresh foods can be offered freeze-dried or dehydrated food. These are fresh foods that have been preserved by removing the moisture from the food and there are no artificial additives. They are generally more compact and lighter weight than dry kibble, making them great choices for hiking dog food.
Before serving dehydrated dog foods, you will need to add boiling water. This will both heat and rehydrate the food. You don’t need to add water when feeding freeze-dried dog foods. But, doing so can create a gravy for a tasty treat.
How Much Water Does a Dog Need While Hiking?
Deciding what to feed your dog while hiking isn’t the only thing you should consider before hitting the trails. One of the most important things you can pack before hitting the trail is fresh water for both you and your dog.
Long hikes and hot temperatures can quickly lead to trouble if you don’t ensure that your dog is getting enough water. When packing up for your next trip, you should carry a minimum of 8 ounces of water for each dog that you are travelling with. Of course, this will vary slightly depending on the size of your dog, his age, and how strenuous your planned hike will be.
For longer backpacking trips, freeze your water bottles before packing. They will slowly melt as the day goes on. This means that you will have plenty of cool, fresh water all day long.
Don’t forget to pack a travel water bowl!
Take frequent water breaks, especially if you are hiking with a young puppy or an older dog. Puppies and senior dogs are both at a higher risk for dehydration. This will also help to discourage your dog from drinking out of dirty puddles that he may encounter along the way.
Hiking lovers, what do you feed your dog while hiking? Do you have a go-to food?