Owners of diabetic dogs tend to be very food conscious – to put it mildly. It’s not just that a proper diet is needed to help regulate blood sugar. It’s also that diabetic dogs need to eat, period, so that their insulin can be administered. Without enough food in the system, there’s the danger of hypoglycemia, low blood sugar.
A Picky Eater with Digestive Issues
Frankie is not only diabetic, but he is particular about what he eats. And a couple of months ago, he started having intermittent bouts of diarrhea, although I’d been vigilant about giving him probiotics. These bouts weren’t severe enough for me to take him to the vet, but they were sufficiently worrisome for me to change his diet. Once I switched over from kibble and fresh food to totally fresh food, Frankie’s elimination issues were eliminated.
And unlike most of my human guests, Frankie liked my home cooking.
My mealtime anxiety about whether or not Frankie would eat disappeared. So did my worry about whether he’d need to go out in the middle of the night.
Adding Travel to the Equation
But that was before I decided to fly with Frankie to San Diego.
There was no way to prepare fresh food during the trip. I needed to find something healthy, portable, easy to digest, and tasty.
Many of my friends swear by Honest Kitchen‘s dehydrated raw food, and I tried it when Frankie was first diagnosed with diabetes on the advice of a vet I’d consulted about his new dietary needs. Unfortunately, Frankie didn’t like any of the available varieties. I suspect it’s the texture. He prefers food he can sink his (few remaining) teeth into.
The idea of raw and dehydrated was appealing, though. I decided to try Stella & Chewy’s, a similarly nutritionally balanced food that comes in patty form. Adding water is optional as long as a dog drinks enough during the day — no problem for a diabetic pup living in the desert, even one whose diabetes is controlled.
A Possible Solution
It’s always important to switch foods slowly, so I started introducing Frankie to various patties — beef, chicken, and duck — in combination with the other food I’d been giving him.
Frankie has been known to pick out individual food items he doesn’t like and place them carefully on the floor. That didn’t happen this time. When I transitioned him to the patties alone, he remained equally enthusiastic. I never had to coax him to eat and he didn’t develop digestive problems again.
So I packed enough patties for our four-day trip, and tucked in one can of food that Frankie likes, just in case…
I’m happy to report that there was no need for coaxing. Frankie showed no reluctance to eat, even in strange hotel rooms, even after the stress of travel.
In brief, here’s why I would recommend Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried (as opposed to frozen) raw dinners for travelers with small dogs:
- Portion control. All the packages offer easy-to-follow feeding recommendations based on a dog’s weight. At 10 pounds, for example, Frankie gets three patties per day of beef or four patties per day of chicken.
- Portability. The patties are lighter than kibble and definitely lighter than cans of food. If you are driving, you can throw a bunch of stuff into the trunk (at least that’s how I travel). When you are flying, every ounce counts.
- Poop control. Food that doesn’t have grain in it creates smaller, more compact turds. So if you are not near a receptacle when your dog makes his deposit, you don’t have to walk around with a large, steaming bag of poop, just a small one.
- Palatability. The taste and texture appeal to even picky eaters.
The one downside, which is why I emphasized its use for diminutive dogs (as does the company): Expense. One bag of food that would feed Frankie for eight days costs $30 — more than $100 a month.
Unless Stella & Chewy’s wants to provide me with provisions — note to company: will post ad for food — I’ll be cutting back and using the patties as a supplement.
But as a short term solution to traveling with a small, picky dog: Perfect.
Anyone else have good recommendations for road food that’s worked — or didn’t — for a pet?