The only thing better than a road trip is enjoying it in the company of our dogs! Since summer is the perfect time to embark on an adventure, you may want to start planning a trip with your favorite pup passenger.
As fun as it is to hit the highway with your pooch riding shotgun (or rather, comfortably secured in the backseat), it’s our job as pet parents to be prepared and keep our dogs safe. Whether you’re headed out for a day trip, a weekend getaway, or a lengthy vacation, the tips below will help you plan a memorable trip for you and your four-legged friend!
1. First: consider what’s best for your pup
Just about everyone with a canine companion would bring them everywhere if they could, and with hotels, restaurants, and attractions becoming increasingly dog-friendly, taking them out and about is easier than ever. However, it’s important to stop and consider if tagging along is really what your dog wants to do.
If you have a mild-mannered pooch who enjoys meeting new people, seeing new places, and interacting with other dogs, she’ll probably be wonderful company when traveling and exploring new dog-friendly cities. But if your pooch gets nervous around strangers, other dogs, or in new places, it might be best to leave her home with a dog sitter so she doesn’t get overwhelmed.
2. Make car travel as safe and comfortable as possible
Okay, so you have a pooch who loves adventures as much as you do — right on! The next thing to think about is how to keep your loyal pal safe and comfortable on the way to your destination, and after you get there!
It will be immeasurably helpful if your pooch is a happy car passenger, but for some dogs, car rides mean anxiousness and car sickness. Especially for long rides and overnight stays, every pet parent should be equipped, and have access to, these items:
- Fresh water / water bowls (consider getting an insulated water bottle or thermos to keep water cold)
- Treats / stuffable toys for entertainment / favorite toys for familiarity (check out the Comfort Cuddler)
- Leash / collar / harness/ ID tag / poo bags
- Dog bed / blankets (especially for long or overnight trips)
- Towels / brushes / pet-safe wipes for unexpected messes
- Paper towels / cleaner (in case your pup does get sick)
- Food for all-day or overnight stays
- Kennel or doggy seatbelt
- Backseat cover (this one also comes with 2 doggy seat belts.)
- Flea / tick / heart worm medication (if necessary) and / or dog-friendly bug spray
- Tweezers / tick removing tools
- Any other medications
- Pet first aid kit
- Numbers and addresses of emergency vets along the route
- Medical / vaccination records (more below)
Dogs who get car sick or anxious can benefit from calming treats and anti-anxiety wraps (here’s how to make your own for free!). Even the scent of certain essential oils like soothing lavender or nausea-busting spearmint can calm nerves –our aromatherapy bandanas are great for this! (Just know that the wrong oils can harm your pooch, so check out this article for some essential oil 101 and consult with your vet).
Also, giving your pooch some fresh ginger can help settle his tummy. Or, you may find it helpful to refrain from feeding your dog several hours before heading out, then letting him chow down once you arrive at your destination.
Other things to keep in mind: make sure the temperature in the backseat is comfortable for your dog and avoid cranking the radio. You might want to turn off the back speakers completely, or you can opt for playing relaxing music at a soothing volume. Just don’t fall asleep!
3. Bring documentation (if necessary)
This is an easy one to forget, but an important one to keep in mind! Bring medical and vaccination records for your dog, especially if you’re staying in a hotel overnight or crossing country lines. In either of these situations, you may be required to present proof of your pup’s vaccinations, and it’d be a bummer to be caught without them! Plus, if an emergency did happen, having this medical information on hand could be very helpful for a vet who’s never met your pooch before.
4. Plan rest / food stops
You should plan on stopping for a potty / stretch / water break every couple of hours or so on a long drive. This article from Rover.com includes a map of dog-friendly places to eat, play, and sleep along major highways. Keep in mind that it’s always safest to call restaurants or hotels ahead of time just to make sure they still allow doggy guests!
Speaking of hotels, do you know which ones welcome four-legged guests? Check out these dog-friendly hotels for every budget.
5. Know which drive-thrus cater to doggy diners
Grabbing a quick bite on-the-go is part of the fun of being on the road, but did you know that some drive-thrus and chain restaurants have special items for canine customers? Starbucks, In-N-Out Burger, Johnny Rockets, and others have items ranging from snacks to full-on meals so Fido can enjoy some grub right alongside you! Check out these 15 chain restaurants that cater to dogs for more!
Helpful resources to plan your trip:
Do you have another tip to add? Share with us in the comments below!