How to Plan a Roadtrip with your Dog

So you’re hitting the open road! But what about your trusty companion? You can’t leave them behind! 

Luckily, it’s getting easier to travel with your dog and bring him or her along for the adventure. If you prepare, that is. 

It might sound easy to load up your four-legged friend and drive off for days. But, there are some things you will want to think about and prepare to make the trip enjoyable for all. 

Thinking through all the pet travel essentials is just as important as your human travel essentials. Especially if you are planning on taking a longer trip, you need to be prepared.

Luckily, we’ve done the thinking for you.

Here’s a how-to guide for planning a road trip with your dog. 

Safety First

The first thing you need to think about and plan for on your road trip with your dog is their safety. The best way to ensure their safety is by getting them the proper crate. 

Strap them in

Once your dog is comfortable and well-behaved in the car, you may think it’s okay to let them wander freely around the car. But this is not true. Think about it — we put on seat belts for safety, don’t you want the same for your beloved pet? Dogs need security in the car in case of an accident and to make sure they don’t jump out unexpectedly. Plastic crates are recommended for traveling with pets.

You can also look into a doggy seatbelt if a crate won’t work in your car. But be sure to check their safety ratings before you buy, and test it out on your dog before the big trip.

Practice runs

Another way to help with safety on long car rides is to get them used to spending an extended period of time in the car. A good way to do this is to start out with multiple, shorter drives. Then you can gradually increase the time spent in the car and get your dog acclimated to the open road. And remember to drive extra cautiously with your furry travel companion to keep them calm and safe.

Make sure your dog has the proper identification tags

Many owners choose to get their pet microchipped, which is perfect for traveling. If your dog is not microchipped, be sure they have a strong collar with your current contact information on the tag in case of an emergency.

Health Checks

Make sure your dog is healthy and fit for traveling before you go by scheduling a trip to the vet. You need to make sure your furry friend is up to date on their vaccinations and that you have enough of any medication they may be taking. You may also need to get a copy of your pet’s vaccination records if crossing any state or country borders.

Be prepared and aware

Along with your medications, you will want to be prepared for a doggy-injury. Look up some animal hospitals around your stops in case of emergency. It is also smart to bring some gauze and bandages for any bleeding, and hydrogen peroxide which can induce vomiting if your dog eats something they shouldn’t. 

Your dog can’t let you know if he/she is feeling too hot or too cold, so make sure you are aware of the temperature and how it may be affecting your precious friend. If you are traveling somewhere with cold weather, consider purchasing a doggy jacket or vest and maybe shoes so their paws don’t freeze. If it will be hot, make sure to keep on the AC or roll down the windows and give your dog a lot of water and ice cubes.

As always, never leave your dog unattended in the vehicle. Extreme temperatures can rapidly create dangerous environments in the car, even with your normal precautions. Bring your dog in with you wherever you go, or leave your dog with another human travel companion.

Plan Your Stops

Depending on your dog’s age, you will want to plan out your potty breaks. Traveling with a dog means frequent stops to relieve themselves and get their energy out. Every 2-3 hours is a good rule of thumb for planning out your stops. Check along your route to see if there are dog-friendly parks and/or rest stops to take a break. 

You will also need to consider your dog when planning where to stay overnight. If you are planning to camp, be sure to get your companion used to sleeping in the tent before you go. If you are staying in hotels, you will have to check that they are pet-friendly or find a place to board your dog for the night. 

Pack for Success

You need to pack for your dog just like you pack for yourself. Make sure you have enough food and water for the long drive. Pack a water bowl, and consider bringing a collapsible water bowl for easy packing. Bring your leash, waste scoop, and plastic bags for disposing of waste. Don’t forget the medication and travel documents. And remember their comfort – bring their favorite toy or doggy bed to put them at ease. 

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