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Pet Wellness

Road Trip with Dogs (Plus 10 Travel Safety Tips)

May 22, 2023 - 6 minute read by Lori Carscadden

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Ready to make vacation plans but not looking forward to the stressful decisions around finding a pet sitter?

In my house? In your house? What if my dog misses me? Are they licensed and insured??? What if they forget to come over? What if they feed the wrong thing? What if they give too many snacks??? What if my dog gets sick? What if they go for a walk and my dog gets off leash?

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH...........................it's almost not worth the trip at all!

How about taking your dog WITH you instead?

There are SO many pet friendly road tripping destinations. (My pup and I once took a 17 day road trip and visited 12 different states, including THE Duck Dynasty Duck Commander Store in West Monroe, Louisiana!) What better way to solidify your bond and create lasting memories than hitting the open road, head out the window, wind in your hair (and fur)- #SelfieTime!

A dog sitting next to a bucket

Here Are The 10 Road Trip Tips for Safe and Fun Travel with Your Dog

1. Safety first

Buckle up and make sure your dog has a seat belt too! Some dog seatbelts options we recommend are the Kurgo Seatbelt Tether, Mighty Paw Safety Belt, and EzyDog Click Adjustable Car Restraint. These seatbelts are adjustable, easy to attach, and provide peace of mind by ensuring your dog's safety on the road. Always remember to choose a seatbelt that suits your dog's size and needs for a comfortable and safe journey.

2. Make a plan

Although it can be a loose plan (remember this IS a Vacation), create a road map of sorts so you have a base idea of what is in store. Map out the route, research pet-friendly hotels along the way, check distance between rest stops and gas stations.

3. Maintain a routine

Routine is helpful when traveling with your dog. If your Pup normally goes outside for bathroom breaks around 3pm, plan a quick stop as close to 3pm as you can.

4. Plan for meals and water breaks

Make sure you have food safely packed away for both of you! The car is a no-chocolate zone when the shotgun rider is your pooch! Dr. Harvey’s Complete Foods like Garden Veggies, Allergy, and Healthy Weight are great for travel. They are easy to transport and you just add water to them!

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Enough for several meals.

5. Plan ahead for any emergencies

Pack both a human and canine first aid kit, including medications for car sickness/nausea

6. Make sure your car's ready for the road as well

AC works (summer heat can be brutal), oil changed, tires properly inflated, gas tank is full.

7. Have emergency numbers on hand in case they are ever needed:

Poison Control Center, AAA Roadside Assistance, and any other important number. Let friends or loved ones know your itinerary and have a check in plan along the way.

8. Walk with TWO leashes

One on collar and one on harness, with proper identification in several places such as tag on collar, phone number and email address on harness, and an updated microchip.

9. Take a few short 'practice trips'

A car ride for 15 minutes, then one for 30, then 45, etc. Get to know any potential challenges so you can proactively prepare for them ahead of time.

10. LISTEN to your dog's cues

If your pup starts whining in the car, even though you have places to go and you want to stick to the schedule, they may be telling you it's time for a little break. Stretch all six legs at the nearest rest stop (yours and theirs).

Additionally, here are some supplies that may make the transition from house to car even smoother:

A person holding a dog

  • Collapsible water bowl
  • Collapsible food bowl
  • Treat pouch
  • Cooler with enough food, water, and treats (we highly recommend Dr Harvey's Rabbit Bites, Chicken Hearts, or Salmon Bites — these are great for the road as they do not require refrigeration)
  • Dr. Harvey’s Runs Be Done — just in case….(self-explanatory!)
  • Dr. Harvey’s RELAX organic herbal supplement, also just in case
  • Doggy bags for cleanup
  • Dog seat belt/car seat/car harness
  • Blanket in case it gets too cold
  • Cooling blanket and/or cooling jacket in case it gets too hot
  • Rain jacket in case of inclement weather
  • Life jacket in case your dog goes for a swim
  • A long lead (25-30 feet) to keep a safe hold on your pup during aforementioned swim
  • A treat puzzle for mental stimulation
  • Your dog's favorite bed or mat for comfort
  • Your dog's favorite toy for familiarity
  • A few new toys for funsies!

A quick service announcement on what NOT to do:

  • Don't leave your dog unattended in the car.
  • Don't leave your dog unattended in a hotel.
  • Don't leave your dog unattended. Period.
  • Avoid overstimulating your pup. Although it would be great to travel the world hopping from dog park to dog park, or allowing every person you come across to speak to your dog in a high pitched voice and give them a great big bear hug, it may be a little much.
  • Keep it calm, cool, collected and relatively routine for optimum success.

Let the adventures begin!

A dog drinking from a cup

About The Author

Lori Carscadden

Lori Carscadden is a Canine Behaviorist certified in Canine Nutrition with a specialized focus on kidney disease. She additionally holds a Masters Degree in Humane Education, as well as, a Bachelor's Degree in Humane Leadership. As a lifelong learner, Lori is currently obtaining her doctorate in Human/Canine Connections, also known as Anthrozoology.