Camping and Backpacking With Raw

Mountains and a lake

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When camping or backpacking with raw, feasibility and safety are always concerns. If there are bears and other carnivorous or omnivorous wildlife in the area you are going to, it may not be the best idea to bring fresh meat with you. With a little foresight and planning, feeding raw while camping or backpacking can be easily managed. Here are some suggestions.
Dogs and their backpacks


~Feed several large meals in the days preceding the backpacking trip. This can then be compensated by feeding less during the course of the trip.

~Pack one frozen raw meaty bone meal to give your pet the evening you arrive at your backpacking destination. Make sure it is something you KNOW your dog agrees with. If your pet doesn't want to eat it for some reason, it is highly recommended that you try again later or cook it for your own meal.

~You can pack things like dried muscle meat and bully sticks (dried bull penises; also known as macho stix). The only proviso is that you feed these things at some point before you go on the trip to make sure they agree with your dog and won't cause problems.

~Pack a couple cans of canned fish (yes, it adds to the weight load, and yes, you have to pack the tins out and pack a can opener of sorts, but they are a quick and easy meal) like canned mackerel or salmon. If you don't have a collapsible travel dish (which is recommended for water), just use a paper plate or a flat rock to put the fish on.

 ~If you are going to fish while backpacking, catch some for your dog, too! Fresh fish will be a delicious meal. Just make sure to check the mouth, throat, and stomach for fish hooks before feeding, and cut off any spines that may be present on the fish. Do not feed your dog fresh Pacific salmonids like salmon and trout.

~You can look into getting a few freeze-dried raw meals for your pet; these can be expensive, and it might actually be more worthwhile to share your own meals with your pet.

~Eggs can also be packed in, and these make a delicious meal. There are plastic egg-holders that are fairly effective in protecting the eggs from being broken. Try not to resort to feeding kibble, as this is only a quick fix and it can cause quite a few problems in a raw fed dog. Being in the middle of nowhere and having a dog that has diarrhea, is vomiting, is constipated, or is bloating (which is life-threatening) because of eating kibble instead of raw food can make for a very short and unpleasant trip (not to mention the fact that squirrels and other critters LOVE kibbled dog food, and that the kibble can quickly become rancid and moldy given the proper weather conditions).

Camping tent


Camping allows you more flexibility in what you can bring for your pet's food. Food can generally be contained in ice chests or may even be bought at a store or market nearby.

~Pack an ice chest full of your dog's foods. Make sure all the raw meaty bones are completely frozen, and layer them over regular ice or dry ice to keep them frozen. Ideally the meat will start to thaw in different stages and you can feed whatever is becoming thawed. Exercise caution in where you keep this ice chest. In some campgrounds, bears are known to "break into" cars to get food inside. In other campgrounds, if bears don't see anything that looks like an ice chest, they keep on moving. Either way, don't leave the ice chest out in the open, and make sure you keep the area clean so that the meat won't attract any unwanted visitors.

~Pack canned fish, dried meat strips, and bully sticks (if these all agree with your dog) to give your dog as a treat or in a pinch should you run out of raw meaty bones.

 ~Eggs are an excellent meal, and can easily be packed in one of those plastic egg carriers.

~If you are camping for an extended period of time (several weeks) and do not want to bring that many raw meaty bones and whole carcasses for your pet, locate markets around the area that would carry meat. Then you can stock up whenever needed. However, the meat may be more expensive than you are used to and there may be less variety as well.

~Look into having whole animals like rabbits shipped directly from suppliers to the campground to supplement your RMB supply.

Pawprints in the sand


If you don't want your dog eating on the dirt or ingesting dirt particles, small rocks, etc. with its meaty bones, then purchase a plastic dropcloth or cheap, plastic-like tablecloth.  Spread this out at each meal, let the dog eat on it, and then wipe it clean.

If you are having problems with wasps or think you might have problems with wasps, look into purchasing some mosquito netting that you can 'rig' over your dog's eating area like a tent.  Other alternatives to the netting would include citronella candles and insect-repelling incense sticks that smoke, but both of these products may prove to be rather irritating to a dog's sensitive nasal passages (and can be downright toxic!).  If you are camping and are bringing your dog's kennel, consider feeding the dog in the kennel with mosquito netting draped over it.  If you aren't bringing a kennel, consider looking into purchasing a relatively light-weight traveling kennel that is made from nylon or canvas material.  The windows and entrance of these kennels are already netted.

If you are camping or backpacking with other friends who have dogs, try to find a secure eating area for your pet so that it won't be pestered by other animals while it eats (and so no fights ensue; most dogs--kibble fed or not--won't permit other dogs to approach their food dish while they are eating, so it is not just a "raw feeding problem").  This may mean you feed your dog in the back of a pickup, or in its kennel, or in your tent or an exercise pen (if you happen to lug one along).  Or your friends may have to tie up their dogs; everyone can feed their dogs at the same time and leash them all out of reach of each other.

Be creative, and don't be discouraged by the "difficulty" in camping or backpacking with a raw-fed pet. Where there is a will, there's a way. Yes, you must be more creative in feeding your pet, and you might have to dedicate more time to planning ahead for your pet than before, but the rewards of a happy, healthy, raw-fed animal far outweigh the difficulties. Be flexible and open to trying new ideas. Happy trails!