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What Should I Feed My Dog on Vacation?

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Published: 10/4/2021

There’s a lot to think about when taking your dog on vacation. Where to stay, what to pack, how to ensure that your pooch has a fun and safe time — these are just a few of the things you’ll need to consider.

But you’ll also need to pay special attention to your dog’s diet. While we humans sometimes use vacations as an excuse to tuck in to all manner of exotic and tasty treats, can our dogs do the same? What should you feed your dog on vacation?

Keep reading to find out.


Stick to their regular food

The best thing you can do for your dog on vacation is let them stick to their regular diet. Switching to a new food is a common cause of an upset stomach, something that can really put a damper on any vacation, so the safest approach is to not change a thing.

Be sure to pack an ample supply of your pup’s normal kibble or wet food. Or if that’s not practical, make sure you’ll be able to stock up on the food you need at your destination. That way, your pooch should stay as happy and healthy as ever, and avoid unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea or excess gas.


Treat time

OK, sticking to your pup’s normal diet may be a safe and sensible approach, but it’s also a little boring, right? Don’t you want to add a bit of excitement to your dog’s day? You’re on vacation after all, so why not treat your pup (and yourself) a little?

There’s nothing wrong with letting your dog indulge in a few tasty treats while on vacation. They’ll love the chance to treat their taste buds, and it’ll help make your vacation extra special.

But the key to holiday treats is to stick to treats that you know your dog can handle. Spoiling them with a delicious snack they’ve never had before might seem like a good idea, but then you run the risk of giving them an upset stomach. If your pup has a favorite treat, particularly a healthy one, that’s the best choice. You might find some treat inspiration in our guide to the best treats for dog training.

Of course, it’s also important that you don’t overdo it. You don’t want your pup to return home from your vacation carrying a few extra pounds, so remember to keep a close eye on the amount of calories they’re consuming each day.


Foods to avoid

Whether it’s a summer BBQ, a picnic at the beach, or just a big family dinner, vacations often involve a whole lot of eating. But if you’re thinking of sharing some of your food with your dog, be careful. Not only can new foods cause tummy troubles for your fur-baby, but they could also be toxic to dos.

Several common human foods can cause serious health problems for dogs and even have the potential to be fatal. Some foods your dog must avoid include:

For more information, check out our guide to the human foods you should never feed to your dog.

Next, it’s best to avoid giving your dog any table scraps. The food on your plate may have been prepared with seasonings or condiments that can cause an upset stomach (or worse) for your pup, while fatty offcuts can lead to potentially fatal pancreatitis.

You’ll also need to keep an eye on what your pup drinks. Alcohol should never be given to dogs, while coffee, tea, or anything else containing caffeine are big no-nos.


How to avoid an upset stomach

If everything goes to plan, your pup will stick to their regular diet (plus a few extra treats here and there) for the duration of your vacation. But traveling with your dog doesn’t always follow the script. 

For example, you might underestimate the amount of food you need to pack for your dog and run out halfway through your trip, or maybe the local pet store at your destination doesn’t stock your pup’s regular food. Whatever the case, in some situations, you may find that you need to feed your dog something other than their normal food on vacation.

If that happens, there are a few simple steps you can take to help reduce the risk of an upset stomach for your pup:

  • Transition gradually. If you realize in advance that you’re going to run out of your dog’s regular food, transition them slowly to the new food they’ll have to eat on vacation. Start by mixing in a little of the new food with their normal food, then gradually increase the ratio of new food to old food at each meal.

  • Stick to a familiar protein. Look for a food that’s as similar as possible to your dog’s normal diet to minimize the chances of digestive upset. In particular, try to stick to a food with a familiar protein source.

  • Keep it bland. Sticking to a relatively bland food can also help prevent any tummy troubles. If an upset tummy is a common problem for your dog, there are some foods that are specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs, plus limited-ingredient diets that may also be a suitable choice. 

Hopefully, with a considered approach to managing your dog’s diet, there will be minimal disruption to their digestive system. And when your pup is happy and healthy, you’ll be free to enjoy the best that vacationing with your dog has to offer.

A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your dog happy and healthy. Digestive problems and the symptoms they cause can be expensive to treat. Compare pet health insurance plans to save more than $270 a year on vet care.


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