How to Road Trip With a Dog

How to Road Trip With a Dog

Dogs are man's best friend, and sometimes, you just want to take a trip with your dog instead of leaving them behind. But it can be a challenge to think about how you're going to keep both of you safe when you leave home, especially if you're thinking about doing a long road trip by car.

If you want the ultimate guide on how to road trip with a dog or what to give a dog for a long road trip, then you're on the right page. Here are some dog road trip tips on how to prepare yourself and your pup for a successful journey so that everyone has a great time and gets back home safely!

Prepare your dog for travel.

Get your dog used to the car.

If you plan on traveling with your pooch, it's important that he or she is comfortable in their new ride. The first thing to do is get your dog used to the car. It's also helpful to have the windows down while parked in a safe location. You can leave a treat inside the car before you start driving and let your dog come over and sniff it, then give praise when it finally sniffs it out (this may take a few tries).

Once your pet is comfortable being around his or her own vehicle, begin allowing him/her to sit inside while you're driving. Start out with short trips until they get used to riding in the car without any issues!

Dog at the back of a car or suv ready for road trip

Ensure that your dog is well hydrated.

    Ensure that your dog is well hydrated. This is the most important thing to consider when taking a vacation with a dog. Dogs that get too hot or too cold can become sick, and dehydration is a serious issue for all animals, especially dogs who don't drink enough water on their own. Be sure to bring plenty of water along with you on your journey, or stop regularly so your dog can cool off in the shade or play in puddles of rainwater (if possible).

    Make sure your dog is up-to-date on preventive care.

      Make sure that you have all of your pet's vaccinations updated before heading out on vacation!

      • Vaccines: Make sure your dogs are up-to-date on all of their vaccines.
      • Heartworm Prevention: A monthly heartworm preventative will keep fleas and ticks away while also protecting dogs from heartworm disease. Talk to your vet about which one is best for your pup based on his age and weight, as well as what type of protection he needs against other parasites like hookworms and roundworms.
      • Flea and Tick Prevention: There's no reason for your pup to be uncomfortable during his vacation when there are so many options out there that work quickly and effectively! Flea and tick collars are easy and effective, but also make sure to carry a tool to easily remove ticks, just in case.

        Black dog on green boat on lake

        Check with your vet for further considerations, and carry your vaccination records and your pet's health certificate in case of emergency on the trip. It's also a good idea to make a list of the veterinary offices that are along your journey, or at the very least, near your destination, in case your pet needs emergency care.

        Your veterinarian can provide a map of where each vaccination is needed based on where you're going and how long you've got planned for this trip (as well as any other necessary shots).

        Keep an eye out for anything out of the norm for your dog, like loose stool, lethargy, vomiting, etc. If your dog shows any signs of illness or stress during the trip, immediately contact your veterinarian and/or go to the nearest one for medical assistance. Be sure to have your vet records handy for faster treatment.

        Select a carrier or kennel.

          Trips with your dog need a carrier or kennel of some sort. Choose one that is just big enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in. It should be well ventilated, have a door that can be secured open or closed, and have a handle on top, especially since they will be in there for long periods of time. The top of the carrier should have two secure latches to hold it firmly shut if needed. If you are traveling by plane, you'll also need to get a crate or carrier that is FAA-approved.

          Your pet should be familiar with the carrier you select for travel and be prepared for a long trip.

            As you prepare for a road trip with your dog, it's important to make sure he or she is familiar with the carrier you select for travel and prepared for a long trip. Here are some situations where a pet may need to be in a carrier:

            • If there is lots of traffic and they have trouble staying calm.
            • If there are other dogs around that might upset them (like barking at them).
            • If there is a lot of movement around them like kids running around or loud noises going on outside.

              Dog and man watching coastal sunset

              Get your dog microchipped just in case.

                One of the worst things that can happen is losing your dog. If you're planning a road trip, make sure your dog is microchipped by a veterinarian. Microchips are tiny chips that are implanted under your dog's skin and help identify him if he gets lost or separated from you. They're registered with an international database, so as long as you have the chip number and contact information for the chip company on hand, he can be returned to you quickly and easily—even if he's in another country!

                Try out a training leash to prevent distractions while driving.

                  Dogs tend to want to jump or lunge at things outside the window, so to keep trips with your dog safe, try out a training leash. It can help keep your pooch in place on the seat and prevent distractions while driving. The training leash will also help you stay focused on the road and avoid accidents.

                  Plan where you want to go.

                    Plan where you want to go and make sure that it is not only pet-friendly but that your pet will enjoy the outing. Taking your dogs to your local dog park is great, but why not take a road trip to an even bigger park?

                    Most national parks allow dogs on their trails, but they cannot be off leash and they must be kept under control by their owner. This includes keeping your dog away from wildlife and other people who may not like dogs. We recommend that you avoid feeding your dog people food while you're in the park—it's cheaper (and healthier) to buy a bag of kibble at a commercial market or gas station along the way or just pack it from home.

                    Dog walking through national park with mountains

                    Check CDC Guidelines

                      In the U.S., all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies.

                      Be sure to check with your veterinarian before leaving home, especially if you are bringing your dog from another country or plan to visit one along the way! You’ll need proof of vaccination for entry into many countries in Europe, Africa and Asia—and some countries have strict regulations and additional requirements such as temperature-sensitive vaccines or blood testing requirements before entry.

                      What To Pack

                      First-aid kit for your pet.

                        While you may be prepared to handle any injury or emergency that comes up while on the road, it's best to have some additional supplies just in case. This way, if anything serious happens and you need additional help, there will be someone else around who can lend a hand—and if not, at least your dog will have what he needs until help arrives.

                        The items in this kit should include bandages (for wounds), antiseptic wipes, gauze pads (to stop bleeding), tweezers (in case ticks are present), scissors (to cut away clothing from around wounds), rubbing alcohol (for cleaning wounds) and other such things as may be necessary for treating an animal's injuries.

                        Dogs in pet car seat

                        Bring a pet seat belt harness or car seat

                          A pet seat belt harness is the safest way to transport your dog. These harnesses are designed with a special dog sling that goes between the legs of your pup, so they can't jump out of an open window or get tangled. Look for one that's comfortable and secure, adjustable so it works as your puppy grows, and snug without being too tight on their chest (which could restrict their breathing).

                          Doggy car seats are also to be considered. They keep your dog safely secured in the back seat of the car as you drive the open road. You may also want a pet stroller.

                          Pack any medicines your dog may need.

                            It's a good idea to keep some doggy medications on hand for anything that can possibly come up on the road trip. You want to ensure you have vet-approved medicine for tummy issues, motion sickness, or your dog's travel anxiety.
                            Keeping your dog comfortable in the car ride or plane ride is the ultimate goal and for those modes of transportation, motion sickness is the most common ailment. There are many homeopathic pet remedies for motion sickness, such as Cocculus and aconitum, and if you forget to add that to your packing list, you can easily find Dramamine For Kids at a regular grocery store or in most airports.
                            Just remember to check with your vet before you leave to get any other tips for the road, and also before administering any medications, whether it is for car sickness or anything else that may come up.
                            Dog with beautiful views of water and mountains

                            Pack enough food.

                              One of the most important tips is obviously to pack enough food. Remember, you don't want your pup's treats to be messy. There are two reasons for this: 1, It's messy when they spill their food on your seats, and 2, they're probably going to want more snacks than they can eat at once anyway. So stick with food that doesn't leave residue behind, or buy them in bulk so they can always pick up where they left off when hunger strikes again down the line. 

                              As for treats, opt for ones made specifically as dog snacks instead of just random human foods like cookies or chips. Keep in mind that treats are okay—but don't overfeed them!

                              You'll want to pack extra dog food, travel bowls, and travel bottles of water. You also want to make sure your pet's food and water for both of you are easily accessible on long car rides so you don't have to stop unnecessarily at gas stations or rest stops. A portable water bowl will help make staying hydrated easy and convenient on the open road.

                              Don't forget the toys!

                                Road tripping with your dog is fun for you knowing that you have your best friend there by your side, but you also have to ensure that it is fun for them, too.

                                In order to reduce boredom and anxiety, packing your pet's favorite toy, or even a few, will help your dog feel comfortable and keep them entertained all the way to the final destination.

                                Dog bedding

                                  For the ultimate comfort away from home, a doggy travel bed, blanket or towel to lay on the ground (in case your pup prefers to be elevated), and/or a travel bed will keep your pet comfortable in the car.

                                  Dog by front door looking at packed suitcases outside. Bring some doggy bags (for poop, not shopping).

                                    You'll be glad you brought them. But remember: biodegradable bags are best for the environment! Make sure you pick up all of your animals' waste, and don't leave it behind anywhere; otherwise, it can end up in a wildlife habitat or worse—someone's yard.


                                    You can absolutely have an enjoyable long road trip with your dog if you follow these few safety and comfort tips. Make sure to take frequent breaks at gas stations or rest stops, keep the air conditioner just right, have quick access to adequate food and water, and eliminate anything that can cause stressful situations for your pet.

                                    As pet parents, we want to provide a happy life for our best friends, but also want to ensure our pet's safety in all the fun. Now that you know all the tips on how to road trip with a dog, you can get to planning great road trips for both you and your best friend! If you plan ahead, it’s easy to make your dog feel safe and comfortable while sharing meaningful bonding time with you. Check out Bitch New York for doggy beds, carriers, or anything else you'll need for your next adventure with your furry friend. Safe travels!

                                    Blonde woman driving with dog

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