Minnesota: Campfire Cooking for the Canine

Feed the Dog - Campfire Style

Feed the Dog – Campfire Style

So, you love preparing your dog’s food yourself.

Check.

And you love camping with your dog.

Check.

So how can you make sure your dog eats well in camp, hundreds of miles from home? This was the dilemma I faced during our recent trip to Minnesota, and plan to face lots of times down the trail. Our four-day trip provided ample opportunity to try things, take notes, and plan for the future. What did I find out? Everything that can go wrong did go wrong!

I started on the right foot by thinking everything through ahead of time (or so I thought). I wrote Molly’s meal plan on a sheet of paper (which I brought with me), everything from her meat to her veggies to her supplements. This was also a handy grocery and packing list.

I pre-packaged her regular supplements in zip-top bags and froze her meat ahead of time so it would stay chilled longer in the cooler.

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Molly’s usual supplements – zip-top baggies in front for travel

I also had the opportunity to try the dehydrator a friend loaned me. Five pounds of chicken … twelve hours … presto! The ultimate travel food for dogs. This, too, was frozen ahead of time and packed into the cooler. 

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Once in camp, it didn’t take long for things to go wrong. First, the campfire …

It looks so simple ...

It looks so simple …

While I’m an old pro with the wood-burning stove at home, turns out a campfire is a whole ‘nother can of beans. One night, it took me an hour to build the fire, and only ten minutes to warm up Molly’s meal. I could have invested in a portable propane grill, but why do that when the fire ring and the wood are right there at the park? Right?

My three take-away values:

  1. Lots of fire starters
  2. Lots of air circulating around the logs
  3. Maybe break down and get the propane grill 

While fighting the campfire was my biggest problem, a host of other annoyances popped up.

  • The melting ice in my cooler flooded the plastic baggie holding the dehydrated chicken. Keeping the chicken in the cooler was now a necessity to keep it fresh, and it ate up a lot of space. 
  • The baggie with the powdered supplements tore. Thankfully I’d foreseen such a possibility and stored it inside the bag with the pill supplements. 
  • The supplements in softgel form turned squishy in the heat and attracted the spilled powdered supplements. I could have stored all the supplements in my cooler, but I’m glad I didn’t, or they would have been swimming in melted ice water, just like the dehydrated chicken. 
  • I let a pan handle get too hot and accidentally melted a nylon hot pot holder and burned my hand. (Grrr.) At least I didn’t spill Molly’s dinner when I dropped it on the ground.

Solutions for the future: 

  • Improve campfire skills OR invest in a propane grill OR look into commercial dehydrated pet foods
  • Package foods and supplements in tear-proof, water-proof containers
  • Don’t store dehydrated meat in the cooler
  • Remember not to let pan handles sit right over the fire!

My goal for the next camping trip is to spend less time fussing over the fire and more time enjoying the outdoors with my dog.

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