View Full Version : Request for info regarding nutritional needs of dogs on extended hikes

12-12-2002, 17:29
I am hoping to get some good info and tips on what has worked for others when hiking on extended trips with their dogs.

I am specifically looking for any ideas for nutritional supplements or high quality foods (dried of course) that have been used with success. I don't want to start a dog rant on whether or not dogs belong on the trail.

He is a very active, agile, 3 year old black lab. I am currently feed him dry Wellness Spring 5 Mix with about 6 crushed Freeze Dried 100% Pure Beef Liver Chunks dehydrated with warm water when we have supper in camp when we take him backpacking about an hour after coming in and about an hour before hiking in the morning (to prevent bloat). During the day he is supplemented with Zukes Trek'n Treats (they are kind of moist and weigh a bit more than what we'd like to carry but they seem good, any comments on this would also be appreciated). We would like to start some extended hikes with him and are hoping to get out for 3 weeks for a section hike so I'm sure his needs will be greater than for the regular three or four day hikes. Any input for boosting the nutritional quality and calories for his new demands would be appreciated, of course with weight being a huge consideration. I love my dog, he is truly my best friend and companion so I am quite serious about this question and since he probably puts in about 3 times the mileage that I do I have concerns for taking good care of him.

Please for anyone considering a dog rant or blasting me for wanting to take my dog hiking, please read this first:

I consider myself a good dog owner. We AVOID shelters like the plague, I leash the dog around springs, and water sources near camping areas. I carry a small trowel and bury the dog's poop, just the same as ours, I have even carried it out in Ziploc baggies in the rare times when he's taken a dump above treeline, YUCK., BUT I DO IT. His leash is always readily available, attached to the hip belt on my pack, and, he even has an emergency short leash with velcro attachment on his collar. I do not allow him to steal food, jump up or stick his tongue up anyone's nose or mouth. I collar him whenever I see another hiker and I prevent him from sniffing any crotches.


Special Note to SGT ROCK:
I did read your comments under a dog thread on this board and found them quite funny, especially using the Joe Bob references. You are absolutely right but I feel that most of your concerns are totally preventable. (I want to do a thru-hike BUT I would NEVER plan on taking my dog, I would be a wreck worried about his health and the stresses of the trail for 6+ months...his needs ALWAYS come before my husbands or my own and I would not be able to hike my own hike, I would be more concerned with hiking for him.) I printed out your post for my husband to read and he was rolling with laughter. You will not find me in a shelter with my dog....heck, you'll never see ANY of our family in a shelter...I think my husband would find that reason for serving me divorce papers if I planned our precious vacation trips and relied on shelters as camping spots, he does like flat spots to sleep and does not mind tent-platforms but you would NEVER even know if you were at a tent-platform in a near-by vicinity that we are camping with a dog...YOU WOULD NEVER HEAR HIM.

SGT Rock
12-12-2002, 19:10
Sheesh, try to give real advice and everyone assumes I hate dogs. I am a dog lover and I have hiked with a dog. Here are my reccomendations.

1. See a shrink and have him hypnotize you to think you have a dog :)

2. Hike with the invisible dog. You will fit right in with the rest of us.


1. Water: Plan about the same water usage for your pet as you plan to use. Carry water for the dog, and treat it. Dogs can get sick from bad water too, but it is less likely (do you see what they drink?). I found that a dog could easily knock over most zip-lock bag water dishes, so what I found best was to cut the bottom off a milk jug and fold it flat. Weighs less than an ounce.

2. Food. Puppy chow has a lot of vitamens and calories for growing dogs. Plan 1.75 - 2 pounds per day for a 45 pound dog. It may sound like a lot, but belive me, they need it. Dogs also clean your food bowl better than you can. All it will need after they finish is a quick rinse.

3. Treats. My pup liked to have a snack with me. Carry some treats that the dog can eat, not hard candy and such. Chocolate is BAD.

4. First aid kit. You will need a razor, gause, and some self adhesive wrap. The razor is so you can shave off the bad cuts. Treat with neosporin like you would yourself, and then gauze and wrap with the self adhesive so it doesn't have fur induced problems like not sticking or pulling out hair.

5. Check your pet often. they get cut easily and can't tell you. Especially paws and pads. Something else I have seen is their "elbows" where they have a tendancy to rub on a saddle pack. These can get bloodied by friction easy.

6. Shelter. Wow, huge problem at times. You will need a whoole camp towel for a dog, trust me. A fleece blanket may be all they need except in very cold weather. I took Dixie in very cold weather and ended up trying to get her into a mummy bag with me so she wouldn't freeze.

7. Bears. Be damn carefull. This could get very bad. Nuf said.

8. I didn't belive in this at one time, but I do now. Always use a leash. I also reccomend a harness for obvious reasons.

9. You might want to get booties.

10. Practice on hard surfaces. Those pads aren't made for sharp rocks, but they can toughen.

There is a lot more. Try this link: http://uberpest.50megs.com/

LAst warning. Don't take your dog.

12-12-2002, 19:38
SGT Rock...
Thanks for the info on the Puppy food, that is a good idea, and I found that helpful information. I will look at the fido link you provided after I post this message.

I guess I was not able to communicate the information I need.
I am NOT looking for information regarding hiking/backpacking for the first time with a dog, I posted for that infomation a year ago on boards that cater to info concerning hiking and backpacking when I first started taking him with me. I am looking for info regarding hiking for a couple of weeks or more and how I can boost the nutritional demands of the dog, taking into consideration the weight factor.

I did not want to give the impresssion that I have NEVER hiked with my dog..he is in fact a NH 4K'er, (they do accept dogs that have completed the list) he just received his patch this week, (which I know means nothing) but I am NOT looking for info to take him hiking for the very first time.

I am requesting information on this site because I would like to hear from others who are accustomed to taking their dogs out with them for more than a few days and have some experience in this area.

(I do take first a first aid kit for him, carry booties, Mushers Secret for his pads and water necessary for dry sections of trails,ALWAYS CARRY A LEASH and all the things I mentioned in my first post.)

What I primarily am looking for is advice regarding boosting his caloric intake without adding a ton of weight...any doggie protien powders, high protien snack recommendations, etc that anyone may have used with success etc.

Oh yes, and I would NEVER, NEVER stay at a shelter with my dog...NEVER, sorry if you EVER got that impression from my first post, but I think if you re-read it you will notice that I did mention it and in fact agree with you on that point We like getting sleep and are respectful of others who have no other option but to stay at a shelter.


12-13-2002, 10:37
Try Eukanuba. We fed this to our old malmute who had a problem keeping weight on. From what I recall it had more protein. I'm not sure about carbs and fat, but I think it had more of those also. A lot of "premium" foods have a smaller recomended serving size. Also our dogs seem to produce less "poop" on these. I've done no studies on this though. My wife would probably think I'm crazy if I start weighing dog turds. If you haven't yet, talk to your vet.

12-13-2002, 12:50
Sorry...tried to delete this post using the delete post box but was unable to delete.

12-13-2002, 12:57
Thanks scummings.
I think you are right about the Eukanuba, I thought I read something about the higher protein content but can't remember where I read it.
And yes, that is a good idea I will talk to my vet.
Do you mind me asking what you do about some low weight snacks for your dog during the day, or do you just stick to meals at breakfast and supper in camp? (The reason why I'm asking is because we carry his food and it doesn't matter as much on a few day trek as it would to carry his food for more days..so any light weight ideas would be great. The Trek n' Treats that we give him now are high in water content and will be magnified in weight over a number of days.)
Any info would be appreciated.

12-14-2002, 06:02
Dogs are inherently meat eaters so while in town you might want to make sure he gets a bunch of real meat while your there. And I do mean get him the steak and not just the bone....Many super markets will cook food for you in house while you wait and some diners will give you rejected pieces if you ask.

If your dog isnt used to pack carrying or long distances dont expect him to carry a lot for a while. Take him out on training hikes building on both distance and weight untill he can carry the full weight all day and still have plenty of energy left over.

Jack Tarlin
12-14-2002, 16:23
Have a look at the following adresses for dog info:




12-14-2002, 18:01
Jack, thank you VERY, VERY, much for the three links, I'm heading there right after I post this!!!!!

EDIT: Just took a look and with a very quick glance I can see that these sites will provide THE info I was looking for and even MUCH MORE,THANKS!!!!!!
I got into the last site with a paste and erasing the first dot(.).
THANK YOU for the links!!!!!!

Dirtyoldman...thanks for your post and suggestion.


12-18-2002, 05:42
and thanks to all for the info...my dog tried booties this past weekend and it was obvious she was more comfortable in the snow with them...and at 4.99 for a set of four I can't complain at the price...

12-18-2002, 06:45

Glad someone else found the thread useful.
It's great your dog wears the booties with success!!!!
I have also found Mushers Secret, a wax-based paste that I use on Sammy's pads and between his toes for the winter to help prevent icing. (It is supposedly used on sled dogs.)

If anyone is interested I found a GREAT AT Journal, (a link dug out from one of the links that Jack suggested)


Lots of great dog info within it and a really nice read. Before reading this I felt like taking my dog for out for months might not be a good idea but after reading that journal I am now seriously reconsidering my stance.

I am going to try and compile all this terrific info, the links, and any info I come up with myself, any problems/success we have with Sammy when we do some section hiking with him during 2003 and put it all on one web-site so it will all be in one place and easily accessible because I'm sure there are other people who have companion dogs that they hike with.

And Special Thanks to the GREAT links that Jack posted. :D

12-23-2002, 17:57
Sorry, not a dog owner and probably ignorant, butI remember seeing these things in the store.


12-26-2002, 10:47
Yes, Zukes is an EXCELLENT product. My dog loves them. I've been using them since he first started to hike with me. They are supposedly a dog version of a human power bar. I usually plan on two power bone packages per day or two Trek n' Treats bags per day. The only drawback is they DO contain a lot of moisture so over they add to carrying some extra weight when planning for a more than a few days. Guess I'll have to go with Rock's signature, "No sniveling" and take them along since I've found no better alternative to Zukes!!!
I have found them on sale occasionally at REI-Outlet and sometimes at Sierra Trading Post.