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So I know how to calculate how many additional calories a day I need while backpacking. My question is how do I calculate how much food my dog will need while backpacking.

I'm hoping for a general equation based on how much a dog eats in a regular day, but I'll provide specific information about my situation in case that is needed to tailor responses.

My dog is now 10 months old and 40 pounds, I plan to wait until she is at least 1-1/2 years old to take overnight, and she shouldn't be much bigger than she is now. I've been working her up from distances of 1 mile around 5 months old up to 8 miles now. I don't have her carry any weight yet but I do hope to eventually for overnight trips. Her breed is mostly Carolina Dog.

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Do you make your own dog food or purchase bagged food in the store? Either way, an idea would be to use puppy or performance good as they're both higher in caloric value, nutritional content and are easier to digest than regular dog food.

The actual amount of food you feed really depends on your dog. How has she handled the shorter hikes? Have you noticed an increase or decrease in appetite during and directly after the hikes? How she responds to the shorter hikes will help indicate how she'll handle the longer, overnight trip.

You may want to try out the dog food calculator here:

It's a nice way to compare her current calorie needs to the calculator results then, compare them to the results for increased activity. Depending on how active your dog is now versus how much she'll do on the trail her caloric needs may be just slightly elevated to doubled, which is another good reason to monitor her on the shorter hikes.

And, in relation to your question dogs have a carnivorous bias while having an omnivorous ability, meaning they are designed to eat meat but can handle me plant material. Feeding a grain-free diet will help limit the amount of food you will need to carry for her because grain-free food has a greater protein content, is more calorie dense and more easily digestible.

While you didn't actually ask this dogs are susceptible to giardia protozoa, like humans, so you will need to filter or treat her water too.

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thanks, great information. I buy her food at the store, although I have been reading about making my own. I don't see any change to her appetite before or after short hikes, but she's pretty energetic all day no matter what. That will change though as she ages, and I'll keep an eye on her post-hike food intake as she gets older. Great point about the water, I figured I would make another question about that later. – Justin C Feb 21 '12 at 13:43

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