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?
14 thoughts on “Pet Travel Planning, Pt. 4: Feeding Frenzy”
I remember this dilemma well from when I was making prepared meals for my dogs. Most of my travel with dogs involved camping. Which, believe it or not, is probably easier for food management than staying in a hotel.
I’d freeze the food in appropriate portions in advance and keep it on ice with our other perishable foods. Volume was the tough part–a 50 pound dog needed about 4 1/2 cups of food a day. Most of our cooler was filled with dog food.
Stella & Chewy’s sounds like a good alternative I’ll keep in mind for the future. For now, I’m enjoying having a healthy pup who does fine on premium kibble.
The lengths to which we go for our dogs…seems normal to most fellow pet bloggers and probably weird to nearly everyone else.
For a dog Honey’s size, Honest Kitchen is probably a better bet if she isn’t picky. Stella & Chewy’s might be a nice supplement/snack, but would be too pricey to be the core of a diet. I always took high quality kibble and cans of high quality wet food on car trips for Frankie. Flying — not to mention acquired persnickityness — sure does complicate things.
I’m so glad that the food switch worked for Frankie!
Thanks, AJ. What a relief!
I don’t travel much what with 17 dogs in the sanctuary but when I do, sans dogs, I ship my food – since I can’t swallow, I use canned tube feeding (spiced up with good smelling flavoring and cocoa). I then take just enough for travel and to spare with plenty already where I am going. Could work out for dog food as well.
I think sending food ahead is an excellent option. I’m so impressed that you do so much good work with Silverwalk, even with your health problems (which I didn’t know about until this comment)!
I’ve also given Sanchez Stella & Chewy’s as a supplement during travels. Like you, I love everything about their product except the price. Safe and fun travels to you and Frankie!
Thanks for the good wishes, Lisa! Nice to see you here.
Wonderful to know that Frankie is eating like a champ! I know that will reduce your future travel related stress.
Thanks, Amy. It’s a huge relief!
That’s great news about Frankie – I’ve fed Tashi Stella & Chewies patties, too, with no er digestive trouble, but yes, the price…it’s a lot to swallow:) Would you say has Frankie decided traveling is perhaps interesting and yummy?
Ha! I wouldn’t go that far, Mary, but I think he would agree that eating out can be very appealing.
Nice that the food issue worked out! Before all these awesome foods, I used to have to freeze Jersey’s food and request a bar fridge in my hotel room to keep the food cool. Now, with Grain’s canned foods or the Honest Kitchen dehydrated mixes, travelling is a breeze!