Hiking With Brody: The Snack Factor

I can’t exercise on a full stomach. I feel gross, unenergized, and dull as all my energy is taken up with trying to digest. But I also can’t go on nothing- I mean, I can, but it’s not the most high energy workout. I’ve spent a lot of time testing out different pre-exercise nutritional choices, from nothing, to just coffee, to smoothies and Power Bars and have finally hit upon the right combination. It has to be either the mango macadamia Honest Bar, or half a banana. Nothing else will do. And it has to be 30 minutes beforehand.

With dogs- especially large breed dogs- the question always comes up, “How should I time diet and exercise?”. The risk factors of bloat are well documented: conformation, with size and a deep chest being big risks; age, genetics, temperament, and diet. Of these, diet is really the only one we have much control over, but it’s a big one.

Brody summiting Climbers Loop trail

The incidence of bloat has increased 1500% in the past thirty years, according to an oft-referenced study out of Purdue, an incidence that also correlates to the increased use of dry kibble. Feeding one large meal a day is also a risk factor. But interestingly enough, the idea that exercise after a meal increases the risk of bloat is not correct. Most cases, as any ER vet will tell you, happen during the night.

If you want to decrease your risk of your dog bloating, you can do several things:

1. Get a small dog, or a dog whose relatives have no history of bloat.

2. Feed multiple small meals, including canned food. Do NOT use an elevated feeder.

3. Any dog with a history of bloat or who is considered high risk may talk to the vet about a gastropexy to prevent future occurences.

So armed with that knowledge, I have no problems giving Brody a morning meal before we hit the trail. Not a big one- he sometimes get carsick- but just enough to keep him energized, and another meal when we get home. I also take an assortment of training treats with me, but I’m still on the hunt for just the right easily packable, non-crumbly Doggie Power Bar to put in our pack.

I’m thinking of trying Zukes Power Bones, which I sampled at Global (you know me!) I just need to get to the local store that has them. I’m also looking up recipes on my own, but if you know of any good ones for a dog trail mix or power bar, send them my way! We’re due for another cooking segment anyway, yes?

For those who spend lots of active time out with the dogs, be it at agility or the park or hiking, what’s your favorite snack? For you or for your dog?

Filed: Blog, Dogs, Fit Life, Health Tagged: , , ,
  • Jessica Roberts

    I used to use these as filling for those short bones you can find in pet stores until one of my dogs became allergic to three of the ingredients. Instead of bones, you could press it into a pan just as easily. They were always a hit!


  • Stevehammond1962

    Thanks for talking about bloat. I think about it with Bama my shepherd/pyrenees. He is a fast eater so I did get a big ball to put it his bowl and it is not elevated. He gets two meals a day – maybe that should be more smaller meals. He wants to go out to play after he eats so I’m glad that’s ok for him to do.

  • Why no elevated feeders, Dr V? I’ve always heard it’s better for dogs big and small to eat at a slightly more elevated level. My pooch (Just a little one!) likes to take her kibble to the carpet and lie down to munch it, rather than bending over her bowl, which- because of the diner it’s situated in- is elevated about 1″ off the floor.

  • Anonymous

    We use the Salmon Paw original treats in a baggir for our hikes. They’re Pure Salmon and they hold together well but break apart easily for bite sized pieces. We’re hosting a giveaway at Kol’s Notes if you’re interested. I’ve also used our home made chicken bars a quick snack that packs a punch! So tasty, dogs love em!