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Choosing the Best Dog Food for Backpacking

Dog Food for Backpacking

Anyone who has a dog can attest to the fact that these furry little animals make a place deep in our hearts. More than mere pets, they take the form of our best friends and loyal companions. Logically then our trips and adventures are incomplete if they don’t come trotting along with us. However, just like we would do for our children, we also have to make carefully thought out preparations for them, especially for backpacking and hiking trips. There are so many options to consider when choosing dog food for backpacking, and multiple factors to assess. So, let’s get started!

So Many Options!

Thankfully, there is a wide range of options that exist today in the genre of dog foods. The amount of variety that exists also makes sure there is something for just about everyone! For instance, those who don’t like handling raw meat can opt for freeze-dried or dehydrated versions. There are also vegan versions available on the market!

Canned food is a great choice when at home since the moisture content in canned foods is particularly high. However, the factor to consider here is whether you want to be lugging about the weight on a hike or a backpacking trek. This factor becomes particularly more important on longer trips because even a little extra weight can be a cumbersome burden. Further, packing up any leftover food would also be an issue.

Traditional Kibble

Traditional kibble is wildly popular for two main reasons: it is available just about everywhere and is also one of the more cost-effective options. The good thing about kibble is that they are available in a wide range of calorie content options, meaning there is the perfect one out there for your little furry friend! One particularly helpful tip is to switch to the puppy version of the same brand for hikes. This is because the puppy version is often higher in nutritional content and is also formulated with a fat content that is suitable for a higher calorie to weight ratio.

Dog Energy Bars

Dog energy bars are a great way to boost up your canine friends’ energy levels on long backpacking trips. Let’s face it; everyone needs extra energy when going up those trails and our buddies are no different. One great advantage of dog energy bars is that they take up significantly less room than all other forms of dog food. However, while they are both convenient and nutritious, they are formulated with a lower calorie to weight ratio and therefore, should be used as a supplemental form of food only. Another issue with dog energy bars is that they aren’t very easily available as limited brands are in the business. You might just have to buy in bulk and stock up!


Freeze-dried or dehydrated dog food is a great option for backpacking trips. They combine the two most sought-after qualities when thinking about backpacking, or trekking trips by being both lightweight and highly nutritious. This is because the production process for the freeze-dried or dehydrated foods concentrates on keeping the nutrients intact while reducing moisture content. This makes them chock-full of proteins! In fact, out of all kinds of dog food available, these have the highest protein content. While highly suitable, they aren’t perfect. Freeze-dried and dehydrated food options can be quite expensive. They also take up more room than other forms of dog food.

Things to Look For When Choosing Food for Your Canine Friend

Animals require a balance of different nutrients, just like humans do. If we want to ensure that our furry friends stay in the prime of health, and of course we all do, it is important to take care of their food intake. For dogs, energy primarily comes from three sources. These are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. So, whenever you’re considering which type of dog food to get, focus on those that list animal proteins at the very top of the ingredients list! Any dog food that contains protein content ranging from 18 to 25%, fats from 10 to 15% and carbohydrates from 30 to 50% would be considered balanced.

Remember that on backpacking trips, the dogs too, like us are burning a lot more energy due to higher activity levels. Therefore, on such trips you might need to sway from your regular dog food and look for those that incorporate protein and fat in greater percentages. This will help maximize energy levels.

Dog foods often incorporate fillers. These add little nutritional value but do take up space – in your dog’s stomach as well as your backpack! Dog foods that list higher percentages of soy, lentils, or other plant-based proteins, as well as corn and beet pulp are definitely those to steer clear of!

How Much Dog Food Is Enough?

During trekking or backpacking trips, the energy consumption of dogs increases because of higher activity levels. Therefore, it is also important to increase the amount of food that they are eating. So for instance, if it’s a shorter, less intense trip, increasing the food intake by about 25% could be sufficient. However, for trips that are longer or more intense, for instance, with higher heights to muster, the food ought to be increased by around 50% to 100%. Ideally, food being served to dogs should be calculated accurately using kcals. For particularly tiring trips, it is recommended that the vet be consulted. They can properly measure and guide you about the kind of food your dog needs as well as the quantity.

Bottom Line

Along with food, it is also very important to ensure the proper levels of hydration are being maintained at all times for your dog. When packing for your backpacking trip, keep all considerations in mind. For instance, if your dog isn’t inclined to drinking adequate amounts of water make sure you pack some food that is higher in moisture content. Therefore, for dogs that don’t drink a lot of water, kibble for instance wouldn’t be a good option. Rather, freeze-dried or dehydrated ones would be better suitable.