Dogs are family. Many pet-parents love bringing their furry companions wherever they go. And many dogs love joining in on the adventure.
But, these special travelers are precious cargo and they need extra care when traveling for long periods of time.
While it may seem easy in theory to load up your four-legged friend and drive off into the open road, there are some precautions that need to be taken in order to avoid problems.
Thinking through all the pet travel essentials is just as important as your human travel essentials. Especially if you are planning on taking a longer trip, you need to be prepared.
These 10 tips will help make the road trip more enjoyable for the humans and animals alike.
#1: Check with the vet
Make sure your pal is healthy and fit for traveling before you go by scheduling a trip to the vet. You need to make sure your furry friend is up to date on their vaccinations and that you have enough of any medication they may be taking. You may also need to get a copy of your pet’s vaccination records if crossing any state or country borders.
#2: Get your dog used to long drives
A good way to prepare your four-legged friend to spend a long time in the car is to start out with multiple, shorter drives. Then you can gradually increase the time spent in the car and get your dog acclimated to the open road. And remember to drive extra cautiously with your furry travel companion to keep them calm and safe.
#3: Make sure your dog has the proper identification tags
Many owners choose to get their pet microchipped, which is perfect for traveling. If your dog is not microchipped, be sure they have a strong collar with your current contact information on the tag.
#4: Find a comfortable crate for your furry friend
Once your dog is comfortable and well-behaved in the car, you may think it’s okay to let them wander freely around the car. But this is not true. Think about it — we put on seat belts for safety, don’t you want the same for your beloved pet? Dogs need security in the car in case of an accident and to make sure they don’t jump out unexpectedly. Plastic crates are recommended for traveling with pets.
#5: Pack the dog necessities
You need to pack for your dog just like you pack for yourself. Make sure you have enough food and water for the long drive. Pack a water bowl, and consider bringing a collapsible water bowl for easy packing. Bring your leash, waste scoop, and plastic bags for disposing waste. Don’t forget the medication and travel documents. And remember their comfort - bring their favorite toy or doggy bed to put them at ease.
#6: Consider the weather of your travel destination
Your dog can’t let you know if he/she is feeling too hot or too cold, so make sure you are aware of the temperature and how it may be affecting your precious friend. If you are traveling somewhere with cold weather, consider purchasing a doggy jacket or vest and maybe shoes so their paws don’t freeze. If it will be hot, make sure to keep on the AC or roll down the windows and give your dog a lot of water and ice cubes.
#7: Take breaks
While you may be the “power through” type on a road trip, that might not be the best mentality for your furry friend. Stopping for potty breaks and to get out some energy will make the trip much more bearable for you and your dog.
#8: Prep an animal first aid kit
Along with your medications, you will want to be prepared for a doggy-injury. Look up some animal hospitals around your stops in case of emergency. It is also smart to bring some gauze and bandages for any bleeding, and hydrogen peroxide which can induce vomiting if your dog eats something they shouldn’t.
#9: Be prepared for the unexpected
Your dog will be exposed to different and new hazards when road tripping to a new place. Make sure you are aware of potentially harmful chemicals or food they may come in contact with. And even if you think you know how your dog will react in any situation, travel can cause dogs to act out of character. Also make sure you have a current photo of your dog in case he or she does get lost and you need to post pictures.
#10: Never leave your dog alone in the vehicle
This should be a common practice, but people tend to slip on this one during road trips. Extreme temperatures can rapidly create dangerous environments in the car, even with your normal precautions. Bring your dog in with you wherever you go, or leave your dog with another human travel companion.
by Anna Blair