Leaving a pet behind when your family goes on vacation can be rough. But why worry about finding a reputable boarding house or hiring a pet sitter when you can bring them along with you? Taking a pet on a road trip doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. Here are some handy tips for taking a road trip with your furry pals.
Before you go:
Plan Ahead of Time for Pet-Friendly Locations
It’s not just hotels that you’ll want to check with either. Research before you go to find dog-friendly roadside stops, eateries, and attractions to make sure that your four-legged friends are welcome anywhere you go. You’ll also want to look into specifics like weight restrictions, leash requirements, etc.
Go on Some Local Test Runs
If your dog isn’t familiar with riding in a car, a full-blown road trip is not the time to get them acquainted. Try smaller test runs around town before heading out to make sure they will be comfortable with the ride. If after several runs you find that your dog is still experiencing anxiety, be sure to pack calming treats for the ride or talk to your vet about medication options.
Pack a Box of Doggie Essentials
You don’t want to get on the road and realize you forgot the dog food. Consider packing a box of all the necessities ahead of time so you’re not running around last minute trying to remember everything for the dog. Here’s a nifty list of things you’ll probably want to include:
- Food and water bowls
- Dog food and treats
- Poop bags
- Any medications your dog may be taking
- Leash and collar
- Grooming supplies, if needed
- Towel for rain, swimming or cleaning off muddy paws
- Dog bed or blanket
- Dog toys, especially favorite chew toys
- Sweater or booties, if traveling to a colder climate
- A recent photo of your dog, in case they go missing
- Copy of their vaccination record
- A dog first aid kit (the next step explains what should go in this)
This probably sounds like a lot to add to your already full car! But if you pack strategically, you shouldn’t have any trouble making a little extra room for your furry friend.
Create a Dog First AID Kit
If you plan on embarking on some outdoor adventures on your road trip, it’s an especially good idea to make a small first aid kit just in case your dog gets into some trouble. This list is a good starting point with things that you should include to ensure your dog stays in tip-top shape.
- Absorbent gauze
- Medical or adhesive tape
- Disposable gloves
- Blunt-end scissors
- Antibiotic ointment
- Oral syringe
- 3% hydrogen peroxide (NOTE: Hydrogen peroxide should be used for inducing vomiting and NOT cleaning wounds. Always be sure to check with a vet or other expert before giving it to your dog.)
- Dishwashing detergent for bathing
- Small flashlight
- Styptic powder
You’ll also want to include the names and numbers of veterinarians and emergency animal hospitals in the regions that you’ll be traveling to. We always hope that we never have to open up the pet first aid kit, but you can never be too prepared.
Make Sure Fido is up to Date on Shots and Tags
Hopefully, your dog is up to date on all of their immunizations anyways, but you do want to take extra precautions when traveling. Your pup may be coming in contact with sick dogs or other animals on the trip, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You’ll also want to make sure that you have up-to-date tags with accurate contact information in case your dog makes a great escape. And if you want an extra level of peace of mind, get them microchipped if they aren’t already.
On the road:
Don’t Let Your Dog Loose in the Vehicle
Did you know that a 60-pound dog traveling at 35 miles per hour is the equivalent to a 2,700-pound projectile? That means don’t let your pet roam around freely in the car, folks. Just as you wouldn’t leave a child unbuckled in the backseat, make sure your dog is securely strapped in with a seat belt restraint or a crate.
Don’t Feed Your Dog Immediately Before Leaving
Just like us humans, dogs can get carsick. It’s recommended that you don’t feed your dog within four hours before leaving on a car trip to prevent vomiting. However, DO make sure that your dog has access to water. If you don’t have a travel water bowl, hydrate them whenever you make a stop.
Stop for Potty Breaks Regularly
If you have to go to the bathroom, chances are your dog does too. Make it a rule of thumb that every time you get out of the car, everyone gets out of the car, even if it’s just to stretch their four furry legs. Watch for your dog’s typical signs of having to go out and make pit stops when necessary.
Exercise When You Can
If you are able, try to give your canine some exercise whenever you stop to stretch or use the restroom. Whether it’s a quick game of tug-of-war, a few rounds of fetch, or a jog around a block, exercise will spend some of their pent up energy and will likely make for a more peaceful car ride.
Never Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Even in milder climates, temperatures inside a car can build like a pressure cooker. Even on a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car parked in sunlight can climb to above 100 degrees within half an hour. When the outside temperature is higher, say between 80 and 100 degrees, the inside of a car can reach a deadly 172 degrees. Make sure there is a safe, cool place for your dog to be at all times during your trip.
aking your dog on a road trip is a special experience! Dogs give us companionship, love, and oodles of fun. Your four-legged pal is sure to make your vacation experience and memories that much sweeter.