Dogs love exploring the world and road trips are a wonderful way to do so. But a lot goes into planning one that will be safe and fun for you and your canine companion. It can be overwhelming, so we're here to help with 15 tips for going on a road trip with your dog.
1. Figure Out Where You’ll Stay
Not all hotels and Airbnbs allow dogs, and some of the ones that do have breed and weight restrictions. So it's important to look into this ahead of time and book lodging that will allow your dog to stay with you. In addition, make sure you know the rules and regulations in your destination and plan accordingly. For example, many national parks and hiking trails don't permit dogs, so you may want to choose places that do.
2. Know What The Weather Will Be
Look into what the weather will be like on your road trip so you can prepare properly. For example, you may want to bring some winter clothing for your dog if it's going to be cold or snowy. On the flip side, if it's going to be hot, you'll want to bring extra water to prevent dehydration or even take your dog to get a haircut. Looking into the weather can also help you avoid natural disasters like floods or hurricanes.
3. Pack The Essentials
This may be more obvious, but make sure you're bringing your dog's essentials along. These include dog food, medicine, food and water bowls, poop bags, a crate or kennel, collars, leashes, their identification tags, recent medical records and a first-aid kit. Other important items to consider bringing include a dog bed or blankets, toys, treats and chews, towels and grooming supplies.
Pro Tip: Opt for a collapsible crate. In general, crates are great for hotel stays and providing your dog with their own safe place. Collapsible crates are particularly useful because they take up less space when not in use.
4. Update Dog Tags
Make sure your dog has updated identification tags and microchip, in case you two become separated. The most important information to have on their tags is your contact information so you can be reunited.
Pro Tip: Bring a recent photograph of your dog with you (either digital or paper copy) in case you two become separated. This can be really helpful in reuniting you and your dog.
5. Pack A First Aid Kit
Emergencies can happen at any time and won't wait for you to be done with your trip. Because of this, it's a good idea to plan ahead and bring a first aid kit. The ASPCA recommends packing absorbent gauze pads, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide, ice packs, disposable gloves, tweezers, scissors, and more.
6. Bring Your Dog's Medical Records
It's also a good idea to keep a copy of your dog's medical and vaccination records on hand. You can put a paper copy in your first-aid kit or you can keep a digital copy on your phone. Either way, you'll have easy access in case your dog gets sick or injured and needs to go to a local vet.
7. Buy Durable Toys
If your dog loves toys, they can be a good source of comfort (and mental stimulation) on a road trip. Just make sure to buy toys that are durable and good quality so they will last the entire trip
8. Make Sure Your Dog Is Comfortable In Cars
It's important to make sure your dog is comfortable riding in cars before you leave for your trip. Some dogs are just fine in the car but others don't love it. If that's the case, you'll want to work on getting your pup acclimated before your trip. Do so by taking short test drives around your neighborhood and using positive reinforcement to change them into a good experience. Try giving treats when they first get into the car and taking them somewhere they love, like the dog park.
9. Avoid Feeding Your Dog Right Before Driving
Try not to feed your dog right before going for a long drive, as they may become nauseous and vomit. If your trip overlaps with their feeding time, give a light meal a few hours before departing.
Pro Tip: If you dog is prone to motion sickness, bring along cleaning supplies just in case. Try providing them with water and position them in the shade.
During The Trip
1. Try Not To Let Your Dog Roam The Car
The safest way for dogs to travel in a moving car is either in a crate or secured into a pet seat belt. In fact, there are safety-certified, crash-tested crates made for driving with your dog. That being said, you don't want to pack your car so tightly that your dog is squished. They should have some space and be able to lay down.
2. Don't Leave Your Dog In The Car Alone
Leaving your dog alone in the car can be dangerous, no matter the temperature. Even 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside can heat a car to 116 degrees in just one hour, according to The Humane Society Of The United States. And when it's 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, your car can heat up to 99 degrees within 10 minutes.
Pro Tip: If you absolutely must to leave your dog unattended, do so for only a few minutes and make sure to crack the windows. Use a battery-operated fan or reflective windshield covers to keep the vehicle's temperature down.
3. Give Access To Water
Always make sure your dog has access to water. He or she shouldn't have to wait awhile to get a drink. You can buy stable water bowls for the floor of your car or ones that attach to the side of a crate.
4. Stop Regularly
Try to plan frequent stops when traveling with your dog. Ideally, you would stop every three to four hours for a quick walk to stretch the legs and a bathroom break. Riding without regular breaks will cause your pup to have pent-up energy.
5. Pick Up After Your Dog
Your dog is going to have to go to the bathroom during your road tip, so don't ignore their bathroom needs and don't ignore their poop. Make sure you clean up after your pet so it doesn't end up on someone's shoe or in the waterways later.
6. Be aware of wildlife
It's also a good idea to be aware of any local wildlife you may encounter while on your road trip. Perhaps there are a lot of bears or bison, both of which can end up injuring your dog. Knowing about the wildlife will ensure you keep your dog as safe as possible in unfamiliar places.