Feeding Working Dogs on the Road and in The Backcountry

Feeding Working Dogs on the Road and in The Backcountry

Dogs can carry their own Honest Kitchen on the trail.

Good nutrition is paramount to peak performance for both people and working dogs. I have had great success in feeding my search and rescue dogs a fresh raw diet provided by Pets Go Raw.

Unfortunately, feeding a raw diet is not convenient on the road or in the backcountry so I was looking for a product that was simple but included whole food ingredients that were not heavily processed. That is when I found The Honest Kitchen dehydrated food.

The Honest Kitchen uses real whole food ingredients and dehydrates them with low heat into a dry product that can be rehydrated with water at your convenience. They’re much like dehydrated meals made for humans for lightweight backcountry adventures, although in this case the meals don’t have to be cooked and can be rehydrated with cold water. They have a variety of protein sources available, and products for all life stages and activity levels. I chose Embark, a turkey based, grain free, higher protein and fat product that is most similar to the raw diet my working dogs are used to.

Embark – from Honest Kitchen.

Changing a dog’s food suddenly can have some ugly results, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that my raw fed dogs made the transition to the Honest Kitchen without any adverse effects. Even my youngest dog (that does not do well on kibble) had no issues switching to the dehydrated product. Knowing my dogs can make a quick transition has opened the door to having The Honest Kitchen as emergency food in the truck and my search and rescue “ready pack” for the dogs at all times. If I have to work late, or I get a search and rescue callout, I now have a food option that was not available to me with my raw diet.

A meal in the backcountry.

For road trips with the dogs—such as participating in or instructing at search and rescue dog courses—I now simply bring along some Honest Kitchen and leave the coolers full of thawing raw meat at home. When backpacking or backcountry ski touring, carrying raw meat is just not practical for obvious reasons. With the Honest Kitchen I can have the dogs carry their own dog food, dog bowl and water in their dog packs if I so choose. The product is light and packs well, and is easily rehydrated, even with cold water.

On the downside, the food causes larger stools than I am used to with raw feeding. That said, it is not worse than your typical kibble fed dog poop.

Doggy suitcase packed for a trip.

Both my dogs need to eat the very upper amounts recommended for active dogs to maintain weight on the Honest Kitchen. This means that the product is on the expensive side, even for super premium dog foods. The quality ingredients, convenience, and ease of transition make the cost well worth it for me when I can’t feed raw.

With the upcoming hiking season and some new road trips just around the corner, I am happy to have The Honest Kitchen dog food packed and ready to go for our next adventure.

This post reflects the tester’s uninfluenced opinion on this product. The Gear Institute receives no payment for editorial content. The sample was provided by the company.