Top 10 Travel Tips for Dog Owners


By Amanda Epley

For many pet parents, a trip just isn’t the same if the four-legged family members can’t tag along. Traveling with your dog can make the visit more fun for everyone, but only with proper planning. If your dog will be joining you on your next road trip, these tips can help make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.

1. Help your dog adjust to traveling in the car over time.

If your dog rarely travels in the car, try to introduce him to gradually longer drives over time. Take him for a few short drives around town to see how he does before you commit to driving long distances. If your dog is still anxious in the car, pack some of his favorite toys to help him feel more comfortable. If he continues to have issues, consult a vet about a mild calming supplement for car rides.

2. Feed your dog ahead of time.

Feed your dog his typical meal at least three hours before traveling in the car to prevent an upset stomach. Do not feed your dog while the car is in motion.

3. Pack all necessary supplies.

Make sure you pack plenty of food, bottled water, bedding, toys, treats, bowls, waste bags, a leash, and any medications your dog is currently taking. Rationing out your dog’s meals in Ziploc bags can help you make sure that you don’t run out of dog food while you’re out of town.

4. Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations, and bring documentation.

It’s a great idea to take your dog for a check-up before going on a long trip. Make sure that your dog is up to date on all of his vaccinations, and bring any important veterinary documentation with you just in case you have to see a vet while you’re traveling.

5. Double-check your dog’s ID tags and microchip.

Make sure that your dog’s ID tags are legible, accurate, and securely fastened to his collar. If your dog is microchipped, ensure that your contact information is up to date in the event that your dog gets lost while you’re out of town.

6. Find a pet-friendly place to stay.

Double check the accommodations of the place where you plan to stay during your trip. If you are staying with family or friends, make sure that your dog is welcome and have a plan for exactly where he will stay during your visit. If you are staying in a hotel, double-check their pet policies. Many hotels have weight restrictions for pets.  

7. Restrain your dog properly.  

In order to prevent your dog from moving around the car too much and distracting you, make sure to restrain him in some way. Whether you use a carrier, harness, or another method is at your discretion. Make sure your dog is safe and secure while you are driving. Never let your dog ride in the back of a pickup truck or stick his head out the window of a moving car.

8. Minimize sources of stress in the car. 

Traveling in a car can be stressful for your pet. Be mindful of his disposition during the trip and discourage any behavior that might upset him. If you are traveling with children, make sure they know not to bother your dog if he shows signs that he wants to be left alone. 

9. Research pit stops in advance, and stop frequently for breaks.

Before you leave, check for dog-friendly rest areas, parks, and restaurants along your route. Knowing where potential stops are ahead of time will make the drive less stressful for you and your dog. Stop often to give your dog a break from the moving car. Give your dog plenty of water during breaks and walk him in designated areas. Be sure to clean up after your dog.  

10. Never leave your dog unattended in the car.  

Even during the colder months, the temperature in a parked car can quickly reach dangerous levels. Never leave your dog unattended in a car, even if you only plan to be away for a few minutes.

By following these tips, you can help ensure a safe and fun getaway with your dog!  


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