With the hopes of doing the Tennessee hike and other longer hikes in the future, I began to wonder how I would feed the dogs while we were on the trail. They are raw fed, so when we go away I am preparing meal after meal and sealing them up in ziplock bags, packing the freezers (yes, we have more than one) or packing meals into coolers to send with the dogs when they go with handlers. There is no way I will be able to carry all of that with me while hiking. Even if I used kibble, even if I made the dogs carry the bulk of it, it would still be too much. What the heck to do?
I scanned some hiking groups I am a member of and found that this was a topic that had come up. This is where I learned of the freeze-dried raw option. There are a few companies that make freeze-dried raw dog food. I would need to try some, both for portability and to test the dogs’ tolerance.
I requested a sample from Stella and Chewy’s. Their name kept coming up on hiking forums so they seemed like a logical place to start. I was thrilled to receive 3 whole bags in the mail a short time later. We received Absolutely Rabbit Dinner, Duck Duck Goose Dinner and Stella’s Super Beef Dinner. The first thing that attracted me to their products was the description of their dinners. From their website:
100% complete and balanced nutrition.
When you check the list of ingredients in our Dinners, you’ll see it reads like a “who’s who” of wholesome, healthy stuff. Like raw, naturally-raised meat, poultry or fish, sourced from USDA-inspected facilities. Organic fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, carrots, apples, spinach, broccoli and beets. Healthful, direct-fed microorganisms (probiotics), natural tocopherols, chelated trace minerals and taurine. Plus essential vitamins and minerals. And for your complete peace of mind, every ingredient is sourced from reputable suppliers. What you won’t see are any of the usual suspects, like grain, fillers, artificial preservatives, colorings, added hormones or antibiotics.
The ingredients were pretty much the same as I fed them when preparing their meals at home. This is huge, as it can cut down on tummy upset while away from home and on the move. It is clear that they put a lot of thought into creating their dinners. The variety of proteins was also impressive, as I rotate the dogs’ proteins regularly. The proteins they offer are turkey, duck, beef, chicken, lamb, salmon, venison, rabbit and pheasant, complete with organ meats and ground bone. I also give yogurt with probiotics every day. So awesome that they include probiotics in their dinners, too!
The food comes in decent-sized round patties, with a good thickness to them. As with any raw product, make sure to wash your hands and any working/cooking surfaces thoroughly.
On a recent hike I brought one bag (Stella Super Beef Dinner) with us. I was pleasantly surprised that the bag fit nicely right into the dog pack. They are slightly crumbly but remained intact when I shoved them into the dog pack with other items. The dogs are made to carry their own provisions. This means that they carry any food, water, booties, first aid kits, toys or anything else belonging to or to be used on them. The bag (though full) was very light and did not add much weight at all. When we reached our stopping point, everyone was ready for a snack.
We also had a period of time where Rama had to wear a cone on her head (poor thing) and wasn’t quite able to get to her food without scraping the cone on the sides of the bowl. She didn’t like this and it made a god-awful noise. When I took her cone off to eat she would begin to scratch her face again if I didn’t hurry up and get to her right as she finished eating. Stella and Chewy’s helped supplement her diet nicely while she suffered through the awful conehead days. It was also comforting to me knowing that she was still getting very good nutrition while her body healed.
As you can see, Rama ate hers just as it came out of the bag. You can either feed them this way or add a little water. All of the dogs to which these yummy patties were offered ate them straight from the bag and begged for more. Given that this brand seems to be the most inexpensive on the market to date and the quality of the product being what it is, I will be buying it again and it will be with us on future hiking excursions.
For more information on where to buy, feeding guidelines, videos and the other products they offer, please click the link below to be taken to Stella and Chewy’s website! And don’t forget to tell them Rama sent you!
We give this product a very enthusiastic 4 paws up and a 10 on the old drool-o-meter (10 being the most drool-worthy)! For the sake of not completely grossing everyone out, I did wipe the drool off of Rama’s face here. 🙂