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Dog Travel | Road Trips With Your Dog

Written by Nancy Boland

Summers here and it’s time for the classic summer experience: the roadtrip! Are you ready to create some great summer vacation memories by hitting the road with your canine best friend?  Before you going, follow these steps to ensure it’s a safe and enjoyable trip for the both of you.

Contact Your Vet

If it’s been a while since your dog’s last check-up, now’s the time to take him in. Ensure your dog is up-to-date for vaccinations, and ask if additional vaccinations are required for the trip since your dog may encounter different threats, like Lyme disease, at your destination or along the way.

Also, get a copy of your dog’s medical records and extra meds, just in case your trip is delayed. And take the time to program your phone with contact information, including the address, for a 24/7 emergency dog vet at your destination.

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Plan Your Route

You want to ensure that your schedule accommodates time for regular breaks. For his physical comfort and happiness, your dog needs to have the opportunity to relieve himself but also time to explore all the new scents of his new environment.

Plan to take a 15 to 30 minute break every 4 hours. You can also make very long trips more enjoyable for both of you if you plan stops at locations with pet-friendly attractions, even if it’s just a nice dog park.

Get a Weather Report

This can help you better prepare for issues like rain that could slow your travel. Also, take the weather into consideration when packing for your dog. If it’s colder than she’s used to, you may need to pack some clothing for her, too.

Book Dog -Friendly Accommodations

Now that you have your route planned, you need to plan accommodation. Not all hotels accept pets, and even campsites often have restrictions. This may require contacting individual hotels in advance to find out their pet policies, including  rules, and possible fees.

Pet friendly hotel chains will include all the details about taking your dog along on their website. This will range from accommodation to accommodation so it’s always best to be organised and prepared.

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Arrange for Dog Care at Your Destination

If you are attending an event, such as a wedding, that will take you away from your dog for a period of time while you’re at your destination, you should locate a day care or boarding service. Don’t leave your dog unattended. The unfamiliar environment can cause your dog more anxiety than at home, so you want to ensure he’s being cared for by professionals.

Pack a Bag for Your Dog

Separating them from your items will make them easier to access when you need them on the ride. Consider all the places you will visit along the way when packing. Items you may need include:

  • Food and food bowl
  • Water, water bottle and bowl
  • Lead
  •  Toys for chewing and fetching
  • Medications
  • Protective clothing
  • Dog-safe insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Blanket and dog towel
  • Brush and shampoo
  • Flea comb and tick remover
  • Poop bags
  • Treats

Update Your Dog’s Microchip

If your dog is lost on your trip, you want to find him as quickly as possible. If the number on his tag is your home phone number, this could be very difficult. Take the time to make an ID just for the trip, listing not just your mobile number but an additional emergency number for a friend or family member in the area or the hotel if possible.

Prepare Your Dog for the Trip

Many dogs suffer from car sickness, so it’s best to feed your dog a few hours before you get in the car. Before you head out, take a nice, long walk, so she’s ready to rest and relax for the trip. Ginger flavoured biscuits can also help settle car sickness (for you and your dog).

Maintain Your Routine

It’s not possible to do everything exactly as you would at home, but the more you remain consistent, the better. Once you reach your destination, feed and walk your dog on the same schedule you would at home. If you can, increase the walk time to help him get rid of the extra excitement and anxiety of the trip.

About the author

Nancy Boland

I'm Nancy, owner of a very spoiled, one eyed Jack Russell called Basil. I'm a trainee veterinarian with a love for all things dogs. I'm especially passionate about dog adoption and always advocate rescue and enjoy writing about canine health and nutrition, alongside overall well-being tips for happy dogs!