How Do We Feed The Dog?

From the time she was eight weeks old, Honey ate out of a food toy. But flying dog food and boat bilges are a bad fit.

So how do we feed the dog now?

Honey the boat dog looks for something to eat.

There’s nothing to eat here. I’d better go shopping.

Challenges Of Feeding A Dog On Board

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize that everything about living on a boat is just a little more complicated than living on land.

And feeding Honey is no exception.

We have three main issues surrounding feeding Honey:

  • Buying dog food
  • Storing dog food
  • Feeding dog food

Luckily, our current path of cruising the east coast of the United States makes this easy. Once we sail to the Caribbean or try to cross an ocean, we’ll have to solve these questions all over again.

Here’s what we’re doing now.

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Where Do You Buy Dog Food From A Boat?

Sure, there are tons of pet supply shops that sell premium foods. But how far are they from the waterways?

Even ten miles is too far to walk. Especially with a 40 pound bag of dog food.

And most Petsmarts don’t have a dinghy dock.

Luckily ships everywhere.

Honey the golden retriever on the boat with her chewy box of food.

How did Chewy know where to find me? There are lots of other boats here.

Well, not quite everywhere. It would definitely be more convenient if they would attach our shipping box to the back of a dolphin and find us along the Intracoastal Waterway.

But with 2-3 days notice, we can order Honey’s food and Chewy will ship it to a marina in care of the dock master.

They even shipped to one marina that didn’t even have a real address.

We have to keep a close eye on Honey’s food so we don’t run out far from civilization. And we have to be able to store enough food that we’re not arranging shipments every week.

Honey the golden retriever got food from

Glad none of the other boat dogs saw the dock master before we did.

Where Do You Store Dog Food On A Boat?

When we lived on land, Honey ate Fresh Pet Slice and Serve Roll out of a giant Kong.
Fresh Pet is a highly rated food, the first I had ever seen in a supermarket.

Honey loved it. And it was very convenient for me to buy it when I biked to the grocery story instead of having to make a separate trip.

But best of all, her vet would say, “Honey looks fabulous! What are you feeding her again?”

It’s not available from Chewy. And even if we found a grocery store that sold it, it needs refrigeration.

We only have refrigeration when we’re at a dock and plugged into shore power. Underway and at anchor, we rely on a block of ice in the bottom of our ice box.

Which is why we avoid meat and other foods that need refrigeration.

Honey the golden retriever poses with Only Natural Pet dog food.

Don’t make me sit too long. I prefer my food lightly chilled.

We searched out reviews and used the Slim Doggy dog food database to find a five-star kibble.

Without refrigeration, kibble was both the most affordable and easiest to store option. To give a nutritional boost, I top Honey’s Castor & Pollux Ultramix kibble with Stella & Chewy freeze-dried mixers.

Shortly after it arrives, I pack 30 pounds of kibble into gallon-sized freezer bags. Each bag is labeled with the date, amount, and name. The last bag gets the folded up bag the kibble came in so I can check the original packaging if there’s ever a recall notice.

Bag of dog food.

A bundle of Honey’s food ready to go into deep storage.

We store the bags of kibble in the storage locker under our starboard (right side as you’re facing forward) saloon (what you call the living room in a boat) settee (a boat couch).

One bag stays in a galley cupboard for daily feeding.

Now we just have to get it into the dog.

How Do You Feed A Dog On A Boat?

Who misses Honey’s food toys more, me or her?

Honey the golden retriever as a puppy with her food toy.

This food toy is pretty challenging. It’s a good thing I’m so advanced.

I have no idea.

As a puppy, Honey learned about food toys when we put kibble into a water bottle that we set on its mouth. We encouraged her to knock it over and we set it up for her over and over.

Eventually, we got her more complicated food toys like the Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug
which required Honey to tug on a rope to free the food.

And stuffing soft food tightly into her Kong also required some ingenuity.

Golden Retriever plays with Kong Wobbler food toy.

Honey: “You know, if you had to work as hard for your food, you wouldn’t be so fat.” Me: “You’re right.”

I used to love watching her go up the steps to drop her Kong from greater heights so the food would come out faster.

But Honey was a sloppy eater.

If food ended up under the fridge or stove, she’d walk away unconcerned. We didn’t realize how much food was lurking under our kitchen appliances until our friend Melissa brought her pups over.

Yep, they helped us get all that leftover food out. Good dogs.

We can’t afford to lose food in the boat’s nooks and crannies. We have openings to the bilge (the area inside the hull but below the finished floor) that contain important parts.

I can imagine coming back to the boat with Honey to find it sunk with just the mast showing above the water. All thanks to a tiny piece of kibble that caused the bilge pump to fail.

Does your dog need insurance?

The one sight every sailor hates the most.

So now Honey eats her food out of a bowl. It’s definitely more boring.

And I think Honey feels it. Food time is no longer fun time.

Honey the golden retriever with her food and water bowls.

Yeah, this is definitely less interesting than a Kong.

Maybe when we’re at a marina, we should feed her with a food toy out on the lawn. But I have a feeling we’d attract every other dog faster than Honey could eat all her food.

Water is another trick.

When we’re sailing, the boat heels to the side. And in rough seas, we bounce a bit in the waves.

There are fancy bowls that claim not to spill, even in a boat. But we’ve had good luck putting Honey’s silicone Kurgo Collaps a Bowl into a plastic bowl. No sliding. No mess.

Just A Little Harder On The Boat

Now do you understand why I say life on a boat is just a little bit harder?

Believe me, the views, the togetherness, and the ability to travel make up for it. But things we used to do without thinking take effort.

I hope Honey finds the excitement of barking at dolphins, meeting new people, and spending time with us more than makes up for wet stinky food stuffed in a Kong.

Honey the golden retriever with her cushion o the boat.

I’m certainly glad I have a squishy cushion on these hard cockpit seats.

But if she has an opinion on the matter, Honey isn’t saying.

Your Turn: We’ll be doing more posts on Honey’s life aboard soon. If you have a specific question, leave it in the comments.



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  1. Glad our database guided you to a good food. You are so dedicated to this life…I would find it hard to give up all my creature comforts and I know Jack & Maggie wouldn’t want to give up those treat toys.

  2. It’s always interesting to hear how others get fed. We mostly eat out of our bowls except for Bailie who sometimes gets food in a toy or puzzle feeder. Katie had a food ball as a young pup and loved it, but Mom prefers us to eat out of our bowls so she knows who ate what. Katie and I have never big eaters, no matter what the food, so it is important to know that we ate our own food.

  3. I suppose I’d have major trouble feeding our pups their raw food on a boat ~ unless it’d be a super large, luxurious one 😉

  4. I love your posts about how to do stuff living on a boat! It’s so neat seeing how you make things work. I also love that is such a convenient place to shop! They are awesome!

  5. honey is being trooper. she’s had to make a lot of adjustments and it seems she’s adjusting.

    broke my wrist so there are no upper case anything until my cast comes off and i can use two hands.

  6. I love your posts on living on the boat! I’m sure the excitement makes up for the food presentation. :p

  7. Chantel says:

    I love
    They have great customer service, fast shipping and great products.

  8. I have a feeling that just spending the majority of her time with you and Mike is far more important and meaningful to Honey than ANY food toy. And I love all your posts about life onboard Meander, and the adjustments from land life to seaborne life!!

  9. PS. I love too! Their customer service – and their prices – are THE BEST ANYWHERE!!!

  10. Home delivery of dog food is the only way to go, whether or not you’re on a boat. As long as the autoship keeps coming, I figure I can scrounge for people food. but I won’t compromise when it comes to Sam. ღ

  11. Feeding would be the biggest problem for my girl, I don’t believe that she could be able to give up of her rituals and treat toys. Honey is amazing. We love, too.