I am not an expert on dog food. But I can tell you what we're using and why we like it.

Boat Dog Food

I’ve had some questions about what dog foods are best on a boat and what do we feed Paz. I feel wholly unqualified to say what’s best, but I will say what we do for Paz and why we like it.

For the first ten years of Paz’s life, she ate the mass market dog foods.

That ended last summer, for a variety of reasons:

The more I read, the more I realized that maybe we hadn’t been doing well in what we were feeding Paz. I decided to find something better for her. Several brands showed up as being good options. I knew Jody was happy with The Honest Kitchen and I got a sample pack of it, and another of Sojo’s.

Both of these – and several other top brands of dehydrated dog food – are human-grade food. I like that I can look at the ingredients and not see the word “byproduct!”

Both are dehydrated raw food, including freeze-dried meat. The formulations are somewhat different (and each brand has several different flavors), but basically you mix them with water, let sit a certain amount of time, then feed. You can mix a couple days supply at a time if you keep the unused portion in the refrigerator. One important note: any food that remains in the dish for several hours should be thrown out, as it is raw meat.

Both brands appear pricey at first glance – but per serving they’re not a lot more than the mass-market brands that we were using before (Purina, Iams, Beneful, etc.). You can’t just compare 1 pound of dehydrated food to one pound of kibble, since you use about 1/5 as much dehydrated food per serving (by weight) as you use traditional kibble.

Both take up a lot less space than her old kibble. Admittedly, at 7 pounds, Paz doesn’t eat huge amounts – but when buying provisions ahead for several months, every bit of space counts.

Paz flat refused to eat the food from The Honest Kitchen. Her parents were street dogs in Mexico and I have to admit that she has always preferred flavorful or even spicy food. The Honest Kitchen Food smelled very bland, even to me. The good news: she liked the Sojos!

But even better (and what makes me ashamed that it took nearly 11 years of her life to figure out) is that over the first several weeks of eating the Sojo’s, she regained a lot of energy. This was totally unexpected.

Even prior to her injuries last spring, she had slowed down quite a bit. Naps were a big part of every day. Walks got shorter and shorter, and sometimes she didn’t even jump up to greet visitors. We chalked it up to getting older, and her vet concurred.

Now, I don’t want to make it sound like she suddenly was acting like a puppy again. But maybe more like she’d been 3 or 4 years ago. More playful. Mile-long walks, not carries. More interest in everything going on around her.  Not only did we notice the difference, so did neighbors. At the risk of too much information, her poop also returned to dark, firm little logs (the first few days on the new food, she pooped far more than normal, too, but that went away quickly).

At the same time we changed her primary food, we also changed her treats to dehydrated beef and liver tidbits (and she still gets an occasional Denta-Stix or Milk Bone). She loves both of these and we discovered that some of the treats we’d been feeding her in the past were manufactured by companies whose other products had recalls.

Getting ready to head to the Bahamas, I’m happy that we’ve switched her food to Sojo’s as several people have told me to take as much food for her as we’ll need, as it’s both expensive in the Bahamas AND the selection isn’t great.

  • Sojo’s is dehydrated and takes up much less space than the kibble she used to eat.
  • I LOVE the tough zippered bags it comes in – it stays fresh and keeps bugs out (bugs LOVE kibble and if a bag was ever not totally sealed up – even for a day – we’d find bugs in it, then in the rest of the boat)
  • It comes in several size bags, including small ones. It can be hard to find small bags of food that will last about a month for her, and I while she might eventually eat a big bag, I worry about it getting stale or even moldy in the high humidity on the boat.

The top dog food brands aren’t sold in supermarkets or big box stores, and the chain pet store that I know that carries them are Pet Supermarkets (and even they don’t carry full lines in the stores I’ve been in).

I just buy it for Paz on Amazon:

NOTE: You can get a free sample from The Honest Kitchen – Jody has codes available.

I don’t have any connection to Sojo’s or any of the other dog food companies. Yes, The Boat Galley does earn a small bit when you buy from Amazon through the links here. But believe me, I’d never use that to recommend something that I didn’t like – whether for you or your dog.  Your dog’s health is way too important for me to recommend something that we don’t use and love!

Food for a Boat Dog: I am not an expert on dog food. But I can tell you what we're using and why we like it.

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  • Joan Baldwin
    Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

    Once again, you read my mind and offer an article on something we need to know! Our most important family member is our Golden Retriever, Cammie. Was wondering how we can store her huge bags of dog food. Didn’t even consider the problem with bugs as we are not living aboard, yet. Thank you so much!!

  • Patty D Tate
    Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

    We’ve used Stella and Chewys freeze dried biscuits. So easy to store and for us cost effective.

  • Tony Muscara
    Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply


  • Chantal Nicole
    Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

    We’ve been talking about this. Our senior dog eats raw food right now. But there’s a couple freeze dried brands that are supposed to be great. We just don’t want to put him back on kibble. It upsets his old man guts.

  • Janet Canter
    Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

    I make homemade dog food for our dog. But use Sojos to fill in when I can’t. Excellent product

  • Richard Struck
    Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

    I think a boat is meant for human use and brringing a per on board withiout any usefull function a waste.
    I use to own a small businesss and owned 2 huge doberman guard dogs I kept on the premisis. I was the only merchant never robbed on my area which was subject to multiple breakins and crime. So I do love dogs and they are very useful.
    Bui not on a boat because of the care required. R.B. Struck, Sr.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

      I can’t imagine leaving my best friend behind. Living on a boat is a lifestyle choice; having a pet is a lifestyle choice. Caring for a dog on a boat isn’t that different from caring for it ashore. And she does have a useful function: I’ve met tons of interesting people because of her!

  • Lisa
    Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

    Great timing on this article as we have just being discussing what we’ll feed our dog when heading offshore from Victoria, BC to La Paz, MX. Do you know if this food is available in Mexico at all? Can you order it online and ship to Mexico? Or do we just have to stock up before heading down? (although that may prove difficult as we plan to be there for a couple of years!)

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

      I don’t know about current availability. When we cruised there 2002-2008, the best kibble was in the vet offices, not the grocery store. But didn’t see any super-premium brands, but then we just took what they sold. I’d guess that there are probably some available now, particularly in Baja, but I’d take a good stock if I could — and then, if you don’t find any there (ask on the cruiser nets once you get to Mexico), stock up on trips home.

      Shipping things to Mexico is dicey. The best ways to do it are expensive; cheap ways can end up in customs hell or just never show up.

  • Mike Boyd
    Posted at 15 February 2016 Reply

    When our pooches moved onto the boat my wife discovered Sojo’s and we have been using it since. We usually get the stuff without meat (you add your own) and raid the discount meat bins at the grocery store. Unlike most of those even premium dog foods, this stuff actually smells appetizing. Good stuff.

    It is kinda scary what is in many of those so-called premium dog foods. We’ve done a lot of research on dog foods and only buy stuff that uses human grade ingredients because if it isn’t fit for human consumption, why would you feed it to anyone fur covered or otherwise.

    The worst part of dealing with dog foods is keeping up with what is really quality. Many small places producing good product end up getting bought out by one of the big manufacturers…and it doesn’t take long before they start messing with the ingredients…substituting lesser quality ones.

    Glad you found a good one and that Paz is responding well to the change.


  • Patty Makowski
    Posted at 16 February 2016 Reply

    We’ve found “Pure Bites” freeze dried chcken breast to be a good thing. About US$9 for 6.2 oz (that doesn’t sound like a lot but the bags’ pretty big). I can order it online and they also sell it our vets’ office here (Pacific Northwest). I make the meals myself (she’s a tiny thing so not a big deal).

    As for dogs not belonging on boats. Pshaw. Ours is also a rescue from the streets. In the beginning she would hang around the dumpster wondering what was on the menu. She weighed 4 lbs. We have had some “challenges” but they were all behavioral (separation anxiety) not environmental. She’s happy wherever we are. Period.

  • Heidi Hegstrom
    Posted at 17 February 2016 Reply

    Lael Lee

  • Sage Seeley
    Posted at 21 February 2016 Reply

    I brought Sojo’s to the Bahama’s. I bought the larger bag & put in a Tupperware container to assure freshness. It last months & did not get moldy in the heat of summer. Bella was on that diet for over a year until she got bored. The also have meat toppers you can place over there kibble . She like them as snacks. The company will send samples of all there products. Locally in Marathon, Dogs in Vogue handles Sojo’s & Offer samples. Sojo’s & Chewy is another favorite, I especially like to travel via plane with. She will eat them dry in the airport.

    Sage S/V Spiritdancer Boot Key Harbor Fl Keys

  • Patti Holma
    Posted at 06 May 2017 Reply

    Love Sojo’s and Stella and Chewys! Had big bags of Sojo’s stored behind setee for our winter trip to Bahamas no problem storing the Stella either. Such great quality food.

  • Julia Pilon
    Posted at 06 May 2017 Reply

    I feed a 77 lb 11 year old lab raw and we are leaving from Ontario this fall headed south for a number of years on our sailboat. The dried food here is ridiculously expensive and the largest bag I could find would only do for 2 meals for her weight! I’m not sure how we are going to do this feeding yet but leaving g our family member behind is NOT an option.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 06 May 2017 Reply

      According to their charts, a 10-pound bag of The Honest Kitchen or Sojo’s should last about 2 weeks, not two meals, for a 77-pound dog. Remember, you use a lot less of the dehydrated food.

  • Christina Wagner
    Posted at 18 November 2017 Reply

    You forgot to mention that they poop less on Sojos! A bit pricey bit man! Do the dogs look good and they feel good too. Mine pooped “chalk” as the ALL nutrients wrre asorbed. In addition to Sojos, Ground beef and chicken wings were the raw staples i fed my jack Russell. Glad to see another sojos fan! Not many know about this brand.

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