Taking a road trip with your dog can be an exciting and memorable experience! Tails wagging, tongues rolling, laughter, and having your best friend by your side can make all the difference on a long car ride. However, it requires careful planning to ensure that both you and your pet have a safe and fun journey. Here are some tips and best practices for road-tripping with your dog.
When planning a trip out of town, it’s important to pick pet-safe and pet-friendly destinations and accommodations if you plan on bringing your furry friend. Research is key! Look for hotels, Airbnbs, or campsites that allow canines, and learn about some of the pet-friendly places and activities in that specific area. Many places have pet restrictions, so be sure to check out their policies before making the trek with your pup. If staying with family or friends, make sure they are aware your dog will be joining you and that they have the space and capacity to accommodate them.
Before hitting the road, try to gauge how comfortable your dog is with car rides. Do they get nervous? Shaking, whining, and drooling can be signs they are anxious. Take short rides with them to get them accustomed to being in the car for extended periods. If they’re a nervous rider, you can talk to your vet about safe anxiety remedies. Motion sickness may also be an issue, especially on extended car rides. Your vet can prescribe medication to help with car sickness.
Pack all their essentials in advance. Make a checklist with necessities such as food, water, bowls, leash/harness, medications, toys, treats, and a comfy bed or crate where they can sleep or decompress. Additionally, check with your vet that they are up-to-date on all vaccinations and have their collar on with an ID tag attached.
Make sure your dog is secure during the drive. Use a pet carrier or seatbelt harness to keep them in place and prevent them from moving around too much when on the road. The back seat is the safest place for your dog and be sure to not open the window to the point they could jump out. Even if your pup has ridden with his head out the window before, on long car rides pets can become anxious, and their behavior can change.
As far as comfort, make sure to take plenty of potty breaks along the way and let them stretch their legs. If your dog is an active breed, schedule out some time to stop by a park or running trail where you can get some of their energy out with a game of fetch or a walk. Double check you packed plenty of food and that they have access to plenty of fresh water.
Never, ever leave your pet alone in the car! The internal temperature of a car can rise and fall much faster than it does outside, and they’re at risk of theft if left alone.
No matter how much planning you do to ensure the road trip is fun and safe for your dog, sometimes emergencies can happen. Be prepared with a pet first-aid kit and contact info for emergency veterinary clinics along your route. Keep a recent photo of Fido on hand in case they get lost.