We love our pug. We want him to be as happy and healthy as possible on this sailing adventure, and his diet plays a major role in that. It’s important to us that his diet meets his health needs as well as suits his lifestyle as a salty sailor pug, and the food we were feeding him was no longer cutting it.
Umphrey has been on a steady diet of high-quality dry kibble his whole life. Thankfully, he has been a pretty healthy guy in his six years. However, within the last six months he had a minor issue with struvite crystals. This can happen for a few reasons – breed predisposition, dehydration, and the wrong food. (Kitties are susceptible too!) His case cleared up quickly, but it’s not something we want him to go through again, let alone in the middle of the ocean. After talking to our vet, we determined hydration and well-balanced (probably wet) dog food were the keys to prevention. Umphrey has never been overly interested in drinking water throughout the day, and his dry kibble probably wasn’t doing anything to help him stay hydrated. So, the search for a boat-friendly, healthy, hydrating dog food began.
I thought it would be great, albeit unlikely, if we could find a food that we could stockpile in quantities on the boat. We’re headed to Mexico soon unsure about the quality of dog food available south of the border. Everyday grocery store kibble isn’t really an option. It’s full of unhealthy stuff. Most run of the mill dog food is primarily made up of cheap carbohydrates and fillers. Dogs were designed to need exactly zero carbohydrates to survive. When corn, grains, and potatoes become staples in their diet, problems can occur (including elevated pH).
We had kind of a tall order on our search for Umphrey’s canine cuisine. It had to be nutritious, easy to store on the boat, hydrating, and delicious. A couple of extra ingredients that I had my eye on were cranberries to help prevent bladder issues, as well as ground flax to keep things, you know, moving along. (See soon how our food selection played a role in teaching Umphrey to go potty on the boat!) There are so many different dog food brands it’s overwhelming, but after a little research on Dogfoodadvisor.com, we headed to our local pet food store for some samples.
In the days that followed, Umphrey had the great pleasure of sampling a variety of doggy fare from organic to canned, refrigerated to freeze dried, grain free, free range, and grass fed. He turned his nose up at some (kelp? no thanks), but gobbled down most with snorting enthusiasm.
Dehydrated Dog Food
We quickly realized dehydrated or freeze dried dog food is ideal for boat dogs. It’s lightweight, doesn’t require refrigeration, no heavy cans, no giant bags of kibble, and here’s the best part – six months of food for our 25 pound pug takes up about as much space as two shoe boxes. That is amazing.
Umphrey enjoyed most of the samples that he tried, but he went crazy for Honest Kitchen’s “Love” dog food (UPDATE: we’ll be switching to the “Force” flavor, because you’re not allowed to bring beef across the border. More on those regulations >>>here<<<). Honest Kitchen is a San Diego based company with FDA approved human grade ingredients and production practices. Meaning, in a pinch, Jeff and I can eat it too. There are no ingredients from China, it receives a five star rating from Dog Food Advisor, and the ingredient list includes flax and cranberries. Honest Kitchen’s foods are pretty affordable. Umphrey’s serving size costs us about $1.25/day. His old food was about $0.95/day. Honest Kitchen has a line of food and treats for cats too – perfect for boat dwelling kitties!
Dehdydrated food preparation generally calls for water, but not always. Some brands, like Stella and Chewy’s, can be served dry or re-hydrated. Of course water on board is a precious resource, and I can see how re-hydrating dog food might be a deterrent to some sailors. Honest Kitchen provides a guideline for the amount of water per serving that can be adjusted to taste. In our case, we’re happy to add an extra splash. It’s a great way to up our little chunk’s water intake. As we head south toward warmer climates hydration will be crucial, especially because his breed is susceptible to heat stroke. He grew up in Arizona though, so he’s not scared.
*We have no affiliation with the products/companies mentioned.