April 05 2019

Planning a road trip with your dog?

A road trip with your dog requires planning to ensure you both feel happy and comfortable and are ready for the little surprises that will surely arise.  Below is a list of useful tips that will help you have a successful and memorable road trip.

pug going on road trip

1.  Pack All Essential Items Your Dog Will Need

  • Collapsible water bowl
  • Dog food and treats – bring the food that your dog is accustomed to eating, you will not want to run out and have you dog eating different food for the first while on the road
  • Dog toys – bring the toys that will help comfort you dog in strange environments
  • Dog collar, harness and leash
  • Dog ID tags with current information – ideally you have dog tags with cell phone number listed as you will be on the road
  • Poop bags
  • Bug Repellents, flea/tick collars
  • Current veterinary records – this important just in case a visit to the vet is required during your time away from home
  • Medications - be sure to let your vet know the planned length of your trip so they can give you enough medication
  • First aid kit – a doggie first aid kit and first aid book are critical for taking care of those minor injuries that might occur.
  • Dog crate
  • Car seat cover and front seat barrier – keep you and your dog safe and comfortable and save some wear on your vehicle
  • Water – be sure to bring extra water so everyone has plenty to stay hydrated

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2.  Use a Car Organizer Designed for Dogs

There are car organizers designed specifically for dogs. These car organizers make finding and accessing items much easier. 


3.  Train Your Canine Companion for Car Rides

It is really important for your dog to experience short trips before you go on a long road trip. Drive around the streets and train them. Once they start feeling comfortable in the car then you should start going on longer drives.  Try to create situations that will probably occur during a long rode trip such as bathroom stops, using collapsible water bowl and so on.


4.  Be Prepared for and Treat Motion Sickness

Spot any kind of sickness before it takes a grip on your dog. Some of the common signs of motion sickness are excessive drooling, vomiting, listlessness and whining  .

  • listlessness
  • Yawning and panting
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Licking lips

It is best to learn if your dog experiences motion sickness during the shorter rides.  If you do notice the signs talk to your vet.  They commonly recommend over the counter (OTC) Dramamine, OTC Benadryl or prescription Acepromazine.  Of course, always consult with your vet before giving your dog any medications.

Some things that might help with motion sickness are

  • Limit your dog’s food intake and allow them to have very small sugary snacks.  Be aware that should not give you dog any snacks with artificial sweeteners.  Some, such as xylitol are toxic to dogs.
  • Keep the car cool
  • Open windows slightly
  • Keep your canine buddy facing forward using a doogie seatbelt


5.  Get a Check Up

Before starting the trip make sure you take your canine buddy to the vet for a complete checkup.  Be sure to let the vet know your plans and purchase the correct amounts of all medications your dog takes. 

 dog getting checkup at vet

6.  Research Vet Clinics on Your Planned Route

You can find vet clinics in cities you plan to drive through or travel to using websites such as the ASPCA Vet Locator.  Print out locations and contact information just in case you need to make an emergency run to veterinarian.   


7.  Research Pet Friendly Hotels and Motels

Pet friendly hotels or motels are critical when you travel with a dog.  Search for nearby pet friendly hotels online at sites such as Bring Fido and Pets Welcome.  Having a restful night or two at hotel that loves dogs as much as you do is well worth the effort.

 pet friendly hotel sign

8.  Keep Your Dog Healthy and Safe

There will be many places along your journey that could have potential risks for your dogs safety and health.  Your dog will be in many new and exciting environments so use extra caution.  For example, be sure to keep your fur baby on a leash in all rest areas and only allow them to run free in designated areas that are enclosed. 

Certain areas have different types of parasites and other health risks.  Discuss this with you vet when you take your dog for her pre-trip checkup.


9.  Do Not Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car

This tip is short and easy – DO NOT leave your dog unattended in the car!  Dogs can overheat in cars when weather is as cool as 60 degrees F and could be at risk for hypothermia when the weather is not far below that.  Never take a chance, bring your dog with you when you leave the car.


10.  Don’t Allow Dogs to Hang Out of Window

Though photos of dogs hanging out of car windows might look cool, this is actually very dangerous.  If any object, such as a tree branch, sign or another car, comes too close to your car your dog might get hit.  If the window is open too much they might even fall from the vehicle.  Take precautionary measures to keep them far enough from the window and only have the window opened a couple of inches.


11.  Research Rules Concerning Dogs

Each area will have its owns rules and regulations concerning dogs and it is your responsibility to know them. For example, National parks have strict rules and regulations for pets.  These rules can be easily obtained by calling information hotlines for each destination prior to your trip.

If you are ready to plan a full vacation check out this complete guide on How to Plan a Vacation with Your Dog by Your Dog Advisor.

Sometimes it is nice to stay home, check out this article about backyard activities 11 Budget Friendly Backyard Activities for Dogs This Summer


Bonus Tip - Pet Insurance is Great to Have 

Before your adventure be sure to look into pet insurance!  Check out this great article about pet insurance Best Pet Insurance Based on In-Depth Reviews by ConsumerAdvocate.org.


 Leave your comments below about a road trip you took with your canine companion.



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