Feeding Your Dog When You Travel
Over the last few years we have discussed our solutions for things such as airline approved carriers, in-transit potty solutions, and of course what airlines we prefer and why. One thing we have yet to cover is the issue of food and water.
There are a surprising number of regulations regarding crossing borders with either food or water – especially for air travel. When on a road trip we have a plug in cooler we use so I will focus on air travel for this post if that is alright with you.
Tip #1 – Water
Airport security will confiscate bottled water before you are allowed through; but water is easy enough to replace once on the other side. Most magazine shops have some bottled water for sale, even if over priced now that they have a captive customer. You can also often get water at a restaurant.
Tap water is always available from the bathroom but keep in mind that the quality of the tap water changes from country to country. Dogs just like humans can be sensitive to unfamiliar bacteria.
Many airports also have drinking fountains and water coolers as well. With all these options all you need is a travel dish and you are good to go. In our case we use a SIG bottle with sports cap.
Tip #2 – Kibble
The “feeding” in transit question is a difficult one to answer because it depends primarily on how you have chosen to nourish your dog. For those that feed their canine’s dog food we recommend you purchase some “sample” sized bags to meet travel regulations. Surprisingly even land border crossings can have regulations when it comes to how large a bag you can have. Sealed or not.
The small sample size will allow you to feed your dog should you have a long trip or layover at an airport while still meeting regulations and will also allow you to split the load up between two or more people when traveling as a family.
Smaller dog boutiques and pet stores have them and they are often available for free. Technically, at security, a zip lock full of kibble can be confiscated. I have seen some people get away with it – but it is a risk you are taking.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) travelers may bring into Canada a personal import of pet food (limit of 20 kg), if the import meets all of the following requirements:
- The pet food or product must be of United States origin and be commercially packaged.
- The pet food or product must be in the possession of the traveler at the time of entry from the U.S.
- The animal that will eat the imported product must accompany the traveler at the time of entry.
- The imported product is fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveler into Canada.
These regulations apply to land crossings as well. So don’t be fooled into thinking that driving means you can bring more.
Tip #3 – Raw
What about those of you on a raw food or fresh food diet? This is a frequently asked question we receive.
First, let’s get this over with. Flying OR land crossing you can NOT cross a border with raw food especially chicken. For and crossings you can cross the border with small amounts of COOKED meats in a cooler.
Now, allow me to explain my own diet. Yes? Because I get asked this a LOT. I think my super silky soft fur and lack of allergies has people curious. Good genes? Good food? A Combo of both?
I eat what my humans eat. Try not to gasp and be shocked. My bipeds have taken a lot of time to study and understand my dietary needs. They make every meal from scratch using the same ingredients they would for themselves. Only THEY are vegan … so the meat part is just for me. I also have my vitamins just as they do. In a nutshell I eat human grade food, prepared at the same time (sometimes they prep a four day batch – see photo below) and eat at the same time as my bipeds do. Although during a work week I get my table spoon of food in the morning and then again at night. During weekends or when traveling I eat with them, smaller portions given the 3 meal rather than 2 meal plan. I occasionally also get some raw beef, bones, freeze dried anchovies (my favourite!) etc.
There are huge advantages to this system; the first being we know exactly what I am eating and the other is that it makes travel easy. Once we cross the security check point at the airport, if we are all hungry it is easy to find a ham and cheese sandwich (or tuna and cucumber) that can feed all three of us. I get the meats! On a transatlantic flight, I will have a piece of whatever is being served. Most humans don’t eat a balanced meal while flying and … neither do I. But I do not go hungry and I do not get the runs from a change in food because my food varies every day and I am use to that. It also makes things easier once we have reached our destination.
Raw is a slightly more challenging choice for in-transit feedings. I did look into it for those of you on the raw food diet (I refuse to go that route – they bipeds did try). If you have a long layover, you can contact a restaurant that works within an airport and see if they would be willing to let you buy something from them. Most are surprisingly willing to assist.
Another option is freeze dried raw food. This is a the way to go.
Tip #4 – Freeze Dried
Orijen is one of the most convenient freeze dried pet foods on the market in Canada and the one we use. Another option is Stella and Chewy. The “1 serving size” patties allow you to just pour warm water on top, let it soak and serve. You don’t need a fridge. You do not have to defrost it overnight, you don’t have to cut it up or mix it with anything. It is a 100% complete and balanced made from only the most superior ingredients on the market. And because it’s freeze dried it’s super light weight; making it easy to travel with. It’s also allowed across security for land or air travel. I usually have a few patties in a zip lock for the flight itself and a sealed bag in our luggage for the remainder of the trip.
You see, these freeze-dried patties is how I get my “organ” meat quota in addition to my locally made freeze-dried liver or heart treats. You can even have some mailed to your destination! There are many brands out there so go ahead and shop around. E-mail or call the manufacturers and they will often be willing to send you some small sample bags that are very convenient for in-transit meals. Start giving it to your dog 2-3 weeks prior to your trip as a small treat or sprinkled on their food and increase the quantity slowly. Then once on the road this easy to transport, non-messy food becomes your go-to when you are not able to provide fresh or raw food.
Tip #5 – On Location
We tend to rent apartments so we just go to the grocery store and get what we all need. In a hotel room the mini bar/fridge can store what I need and the heating element on the coffee pot (we bring tin foil for this) is often powerful enough to warm up my food – heck I have even ordered room service! Being small makes this all possible.
This is much more convenient than having to figure out if a particular brand of kibble is available in the country we are visiting and if not … how to get a bag of dog food for 3-4 weeks or months to our destination.
Supplements CAN be a tad trickier to sort out. Depending on the length of travel we may just skip them for that short time. If it’s more long term, we have been known to mail a small box of my (and human) supplements to our first stop. This means we don’t have to worry so much about breakage and weight in our carry on. Some supplements, like my Stop The Itch and Plaque Off, come in really small sized packaging anyway so it’s not an issue.
In addition my way of eating is far less likely to get me to develop allergies. Constantly changing a diet is key. No wheat, no byproducts, human grade and as often as possible organic fresh food will always be a healthier option. Think of it … how would you feel about eating the same thing every single day?
How do you eat when in-transit? What about once you have arrived? Please share with us your solutions!
Note: This post is reviewed and carefully updated from an earlier less extensive 2012 version.