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Road Trip with your Dog? What to Know Before You Go

Traveling with a dog can bring up romantic notions of the open road with your dog sitting serenely in the passenger seat, sticking his head out the window. But truly traveling with a dog can be a stressful and dangerous ordeal if not approached with a little forethought.

If you’re considering heading out of town with your faithful sidekick, we’ve gleaned knowledge from the dog experts, including the ASPCA, the AKC, and even Caesar Milan to bring you the essential need-to-know facts about how to safely and easily travel with your dog.

Visit the Vet

A little quick health check before going out of town is a good idea, especially if you’re going to be gone for a while.  A visit to the vet ensures that your dog is up to date on all vaccines, particularly rabies, and has the necessary supply of medications, like heartworm and flea, that you’ll need while on your trip.

If you haven’t had your dog microchipped, this might be the time to do it. It can give you peace of mind as you travel with your dog.

You should also use the vet visit to address any concerns you might have about your dog getting carsick.  While many dogs are prone to motion sickness, the effects can usually be curbed by not feeding your dog for several hours prior to departure.

But if you’ve noticed that even without food on the stomach your dog exhibits symptoms of motion sickness including riding with a hunched back, trembling, and drooling, you should talk to your vet about medication to help make your dog be comfortable during travel.

Pack for Dog

After the vet has given you clearance to travel, it’s time to pack. Here’s a short list of what you’ll need:

  • Vaccine Records and Medications
  • Well-fitting flat collar for your dog to wear with all of their identification tags. You may also want to consider adding a temporary tag with your cell phone number and the address of where you’ll be staying while you’re away.
  • A leash, a poop scoop, and plastic bags so that you’re prepared for necessary walk breaks on the road.
  • A comfort item such as your dog’s favorite blanket or chew toy. Your dog should be able to travel with this item in the car for comfort, but for safety reasons try to limit it to one item.
  • Water and Bowl. Make sure that your dog always has access to clean water in the car.  A spill-proof dog bowl with a frozen cube of water that will melt throughout the day is a good bet. The ASPCA also recommends that you bring your own water or bottled water for your dog when traveling.

Decide How to Ride

While it may seem commonplace for dogs to have full roam of the car, it’s actually dangerous for both you and your dog.  Loose dogs in the car can be distracting and hazardous, and quick stops can cause your dog injury.  Before you travel, consider how your dog will ride in the car - you have several safe options to choose from.

  • Crates

    Dog experts agree that the crate is the safest way to travel with your dog. A crate that is secured in your car can keep your dog safe and make him feel at home while on the road. Crates can come in handy out of the car as well, such as when staying in a hotel or someone else’s home. If you don’t have a crate, you can learn more about how to choose the best crate for your dog in our Knowledge Center article, How Do I Choose a Crate for My Dog?

    Of course, your dog will need to be comfortable in the crate before leaving. If you need help crate training your dog, read our article, How to Crate Train Your Dog in a Week. Even if your dog is crate trained, make sure you use the crate for some short trips in the car before taking off for a road trip.

  • Harnesses, Hammocks, and Car Seats

    If a crate just isn’t going to work for you and your pooch, there are other safe dog car seat options. A harness that buckles into a seatbelt is a safe option for your dog, as are hammock style covers for the backseat of your car. These covers both keep your car clean and prevent your dog from being able to roam the cabin. Learn more about dog car seat options offered by Pet Super Store.

Take Off!

On the day of your trip, feed your dog a light meal three to four hours before your departure. Since dogs are prone to motion sickness though, try to avoid feeding them while traveling in the car. As mentioned earlier, your dog should always have access to water while traveling.

To make sure your dog is a relaxed rider, make sure to give her a good exercise session before leaving. While on the road, you should prepare to stop every few hours to allow for potty breaks and a quick walk to keep energy levels relaxed.

Remember that the back of the car can often feel stuffier than the front, so make sure you direct your air system to the back or crack a window to give your dog some fresh air.

Whatever you do, don’t leave your dog in the car, especially when the weather is warm. Stopping will be easier if you’re traveling with two people.

It may sound like a lot of work, but planning ahead can help ensure that both you and your dog have a safe and enjoyable trip.  We at the Pet Super Store are here to help provide you with the knowledge and the tools you’ll need to travel safely.