It’s Riley’s World and We’re All Just Living In It

I’ve received a lot of questions/comments about Riley’s diet and or safety on the trail. Hopefully this post answers most if not all of those concerns!


  • Natural Balance dried food: this is Riley’s normal food. Outside of hiking she eats 4 cups a day. On the trail she eats 3.5 cups of this a day. 4 cups yields around 1400 cals I believe so 3.5 is around 1225 cals.
  • Proper Topper dehydrated high protein food topping: this is a light weight (since it’s dehydrated) dog food topper that I use to beef up Riley’s calorie and nutrient content. I give Riley 1 cup of this a day. If I remember correctly it packs on an additional 750 cals per cup.
  • Dehydrated peanut butter: I give this to Riley primarily to encourage her to eat her food. She’s never been one to eat all her food at once, instead she nibbles throughout the day, but since it tastes to yummy she scarfs it down and licks the bowl clean. And yes it’s because of the peanut butter taste not because she’s hungry. I’ve given her food on the trail without the PB to see how hungry she actually is and she will only eat 3/4 of her food, but if I add the PB to the remaining 1/4 she’ll finish the food. This tacks on approximately 200 cals.
  • Olive Oil: although heavy to carry, it’s essential for us. I add a tablespoon to my dinner and 2-3 tablespoons of it to each of Riley’s meals (2 meals a day). Approximately 150 cals.
  • Snacks: I carry flour tortillas and a jar of actual PB that I give Riley as a snack each day. Around 250 cals. Also any pasta or dog edible food that I eat and don’t finish I pass on to her. Dehydrated apples are one of her favorites.

There have been numerous occasions where Riley won’t eat all of her food topped with yummy additives, so I save it and give it to her with her usual snack later on at lunch. Waste not!!!

We have currently traveled 320 miles in just under 20 days, and Riley has actually gained weight. I’ve always kept her on the heathy/lean side sitting at 65lbs but looking at the area around her ribs/haunches she is retaining more weight and not just muscle. Her safety and health is my main concern and I take note daily of how she is responding on the trail, how her energy levels are riding, and how her paws/pads are handling the terrain. We have a healthy and strong bond built over years of trust and reliance upon each other and I am well aware of when she is not having fun or is too tired to keep hiking and that dictates when our day is over and it’s time to make camp. This is OUR trek not just mine and I want to make sure she is enjoying it just as much if not more than I am.

In case you didn’t use a calculator earlier, that puts Riley’s minimum daily calorie intake around 2,500 whereas at home she eats 1,400 and is always highly active.

If I ever begin to notice Riley’s weight/health/happiness is waning changes will be made, but until then we will keep doing what we’re doing because every step has been a blast for both of us. We’ve grown even closer and have learned more about one another even after spending three years together prior to this.

I definitely recommend hiking with your dog if you have a strong bond and  an excellent concept of your dog’s limitations and abilities. You’ll be amazed and how close you and your best friend will grow together throughout the journey.

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Comments 4

  • Mark Cummings : Oct 20th

    I live near Manchester, Vt, give a heads up if a ride or anything is needed.

  • Jessica Frazelle : Oct 20th

    You and Riley are such an inspiration! Sending love and well wishes from Stella and I!

  • Elle : Oct 23rd

    Hi Kelly, wonderful to hear that you and Riley are doing so well. If you later feel a need for more calories or a change of food for Riley, Honest Kitchen has human grade grain-free dehydrated high calorie dog food in choices of chicken, turkey, beef or duck. Also, Udo’s 3-6-9 omega oil is really good for you, but like the olive oil it’s the added weight. So happy to read of “trail angels” offering you the car to resupply. Hope to see you when you’re near CT. Stay safe and warm.

  • Karen Lockwood : Oct 31st

    I am enjoying your posts and pics. I have no doubt that Riley is having a blast and that you have her best interests at heart. What an adventure!!


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