When taking your carnivore on a road trip, packing their food can be pretty straightforward if it’s in cans or bags. If he eats a raw diet, however, whether frozen or homemade, you need to do some extra planning and preparation to ensure that the food stays cold and fresh.
Preparing For Your Trip
If you need overnight accommodations on the way to your destination, select dog friendly, air conditioned hotels or inns that are close to grocery or pet supply stores. This gives you a nearby source of fresh food for your dog if something happens to the food you’ve packed.
If your dog eats a frozen diet that’s already packaged and portioned, you can probably skip this step. For a homemade diet, prepare, divide and package your dog’s raw food meals into plastic zip bags, about a week before your trip. If your dog eats twice a day, package the morning and evening portions in separate bags, for example, if your traveling for three days with one raw fed dog, create six single portions for your trip. Once each bag is filled, remove excess air by rolling it up like a eggroll, zipping it shut, and freezing for at least 24 hours.
Keeping Your Food Cold
Ensuring your dog’s raw food stays cold and fresh is by far the most challenging part when traveling during hot, summer weather. Overall, we have found that a high quality cooler does a great job at keeping raw meals cold-but there are a few tricks to it.
Packing the cooler correctly is key. It’s best to fill it completely with ice and then vertically submerge the frozen food bags deep into the ice. Make sure that every part of the bag is covered thoroughly with ice.
To defrost the food during travel, place one days worth of meals between the ice filled cooler and the lid. Allowing meals to thaw on top of the ice, while still being kept inside the cooler, ensures the food is kept at a temperature below 40 degrees.
Additional Tips to Slow Ice Melting
While coolers have evolved for the better over the years, it’s best to still follow a few best practices to help inhibit ice melting.
- Store your personal drinks and snacks in a separate cooler so your not opening and closing your dog’s cooler more than absolutely necessary. This is wise for the purposes of hygiene as well, given that your dog’s food includes raw meat.
- Keep the cooler inside your vehicle with the air conditioning on. Keep breaks short so the cooler isn’t sitting in a hot car for too long.
- During extremely hot travel days, even the air conditioning struggles, so wrap a sleeping bag around the cooler for insulation. Invest in a temperature probe, and keep it inside the cooler to monitor temperatures.
- At night, bring the cooler into your hotel room. Fill it completely with fresh ice each morning and night-purchased bags of ice last much longer than free hotel ice.
When Raw Food Thaws
As a general rule, raw food is safe to eat 3 or 4 days after it’s thawed-but only if it’s kept at 40 degrees within four to twelve hours. So again, invest in a high quality cooler, replenish the ice frequently, and take the above steps to help slow thawing. However, if your ever in doubt about the food, throw it out and make a stop at the next grocery store or pet supply for a fresh supply.
If you prefer not to pack and transport raw meat while traveling with your dog an alternate solution is a high quality, dehydrated raw food. It’s easy to pack, takes up less space, and when it’s time for your dog to eat, all you need to do is add fresh water to create a healthy raw meal. Some healthy commercial choices are Sojos, Primal, Stella and Chewy’s, Northwest Naturals and Vital Essentials.
Resource:Animal Wellness Magazine-Fanna Easter