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If your doggie-and-me travel plans include long walks, challenging hikes or your dog competing in such popular canine sports as agility or dock diving, don’t forget to pack his energy bar. You read that right. The energy bar market has expanded and is going to the dogs.
And, it does makes sense. Why should your dog simply watch you eat your energy bar when you both take a break during a vigorous activity? A few pieces of kibble just won’t cut it for these adventure or road warrior dogs.
And there are more perks for this new generation of dog treats. They tend to be lightweight, don’t take up a lot of packing space, they may be individually wrapped and are full of healthy ingredients.
Energy food treats
Pet manufacturers are responding to a growing public demand to create healthy, easy-to-grab food and drinks designed to replenish your dog’s spent calories and help him rehydrate. These handy items come in bars, lickables and bite-sized treats packed with protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and many are void of any preservatives or fillers.
“From what I have seen, using meat-based, low-fat, lickable treats makes sense, as they are not generally associated with GI (gastrointestinal) upset,” says Dr. Joe Bartges, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and professor of internal medicine at the University of Georgia in Athens. “Lickable teats are higher in water and can be used during rigorous exercise to provide some nutrition and water while not allowing the dog to eat a large amount of food.”
He adds, “But read the label, as the nutritional composition of these lickables and energy bars made for dogs can vary widely in quality.”
Physical trainer Dawn Celapino, founder of Leash Your Fitnessa program thats fitness activities for people and their dogs, takes long hikes and swims with Hank, her up-for-any-encourage
adventure Cairn Terrier.
“I always take an energy bar for me and a bag of freeze-dried liver treats made by Nutri-Bites for Hank,” says Dawn, who lives in San Diego but travels all over the country in her RV. “On breaks, we also share carrots and blueberries. I freeze the blueberries ahead of time. He loves them.”
Hank, age 3, was not a big water fan on hikes initially, but Dawn found a solution.
“I pour water into a wide cap and put a small liver treat in it to motivate Hank to drink, and it works,” she says.
A pair of boxers named Debbie and Phoenix turn a lot of heads and unleash lots of applause at dog agility competitions. That’s because Debbie reigns as the only Boxer to earn the title of agility grand champion by the American Kennel Club. Her kid sister, Phoenix, is on track, having won three master agility championships so far.
Both Boxers also log a lot of miles on the road with their pet parent, Cara Armor, a professional dog trainer from Bolton, Massachusetts. Earlier this year, they made the long trip (22 hours each way) from home to Ocala, Florida, to compete in the AKC national agility event.
Cara knows the secret to her dogs’ agility success: consistent training and the right grab-and-go healthy treats. She takes along packets that contain bite-sized single or limited-ingredient treats, such as beef or duck. During driving breaks, Cara shares an individual string cheese.
“String cheese is a good protein source that is easy to pack, and safe and good for my dogs and for me,” Cara says. At the hotel room, she gives them supplements containing green mussels, chondroitin and salmon oil to keep their joints from being stiff from long car rides.
Dog energy bars for travel
If your dog is not into vigorous agility or hikes but loves to be your travel mate, there are energy digestion bars and treats containing CBD oil or hemp touted to tame anxiety, improve and offer a sense of calm. When selecting these treats, consult your veterinarian and look for products containing certificates of analysis and confirmation of being third-party tested.
What to look for in a dog energy treat
So what should you look for when shopping for dog treats for your next road trip or hike?
- Low calorie: Remember that all treats contain calories. Veterinary nutritionists recommend dog treats do not exceed 10% of your pup’s daily calories. How much your dog needs to consume in calories is based on his age, breed, health condition and activity level.
- GMO-free: GMO has been connected to a host of canine health issues. This includes skin allergies, weakened immune system and damage to kidneys.
- Easy to eat: Bite-sized or lickable treats in small containers help to simplify snacking on the trail or in the car.
- Protein: This is a good energy source for dogs and single or limited-ingredient protein dog treats make great healthy snacks.
- Lightweight: Look for easy-to-carry-and-pack packaging.
So next time you get ready for that road trip with your dog, pack his food, water, bowls, leash (and spare), harness and dog bed. Make sure to download his veterinary records on your cell phone and include any necessary medications. And then, grab those energy bars and snacks — your dog will thank you for it.
The Lowdown on Dog Hydration Products
Equally important is packing plenty of bottled water or other veterinarian- approved hydration product. Two popular examples include DoggyRade and Replenish Dog Water.
DoggyRade is packaged in an easy-to-pack pouch with a resealable cap and contains about 8 ounces of real chicken flavor, prebiotics and electrolytes. (DoggyRade; $17.95/3 pack and $39.90/6 pack. chewy.com)
Each container of Replenish Dog Water features 10 pouches of chicken-broth flavored powder. You simply add one pouch to your dog’s water bowl to entice drinking. Each pouch contains an easy-to-digest protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and antioxidants. (Replenish Dog Water; $19.99. amazon.com)
Keep in mind that dogs need to drink about 1 ounce of water or other healthy source of hydration per pound of body weight daily in order to avoid becoming dehydrated.
If your dog prefers water, minimize the risk of him incurring a host of digestive issues by providing him bottled water. The quality of the water in the area you are visiting from the faucet or tap may not be healthy for your dog to drink.
Do what professional trainer Cara Armor does: “I keep the bottled water chilled in a cooler and not exposed to sunlight,” she says. “I also make certain the plastic water bottles are BPA-free (BPA stands for a chemical known as bisphenol A).”
More on-the-go products
Dogswell Energy Extended Activity Fuel, Chicken & Coconut Oil Recipe; $29.80/case of 20. chewy.com
Nutri Bites Beef Liver Freeze Dried Dog Treats; $22.40. amazon.com
American Journey Adventure Bars; $8.12. chewy.com