Road Trip with Dogs: 10 Useful Tips

Road trip with dogs

Summer is a great time to head out on a road trip with dogs!

Road trips are a great opportunity to travel locally and experience unexpected things you would miss if traveling by plane. They’re also a great option for dog owners who want their furry friends to be along for the ride!

But before you set out on your adventure, you’ll want to do a bit of extra planning to ensure that your road trip with dogs is a safe and exciting experience for everyone!


When taking a road trip with dogs, you should consider:

          Your dog’s basic needs and how being on the road will change them and how you meet them.

          Your dog’s safety, and security relative to where you’re traveling and the unique needs and risks of each location.

          The comfort and enjoyment of your dog.


Thinking about these general ideas when taking a road trip with dogs can help you identify specific needs and strategies to make sure you have a great trip! But still, let’s dive into some specific things you should keep in mind when on a road trip with dogs.


  1.     Make sure you have plenty of food.

Bring plenty of food, especially if your dog has special dietary needs or preferences. It’s never safe to assume you’ll be able to buy more food on the road, so bring more than you think you’ll need!

It’s also important to remember that your dog may need more food than usual if your trip includes more activity than being at home, such as going on long hikes. Having healthy treats and snacks on hand will also keep your dog happy and well-fed while you’re on the road.


  1.     And make sure you have plenty of water, too.

Just like food, making sure you have enough water is vital! Consider packing large jugs of water that can be refilled frequently. Depending on your route, access to clean water could be limited at times, so having a steady collection to begin with, as well as a way to easily stock up when you can, is important. If your trip will involve time outdoors and on the move, taking portable water bowls will ensure you have a way to get your dog water when they need it.


  1.     Make sure you have plenty of medicine and supplements handy, also.

If your dog takes any regular medications or supplements, make sure you don’t forget them! Access to medications and supplements, especially those that require a prescription, is important for keeping dogs healthy on a road trip.

If you’re near the end of any prescriptions or running low on over-the-counter medicines, make sure you refill them before you leave! It’s also a good idea to organize your dog’s medicines carefully to make sure they can be easily accessed.


  1.     Pack what you need to keep your dog at a comfortable temperature.

Making sure your dog doesn’t get too hot (or too cold!) is extremely important. It’s advisable to never leave your dog in a hot car, but if you must pop out for a moment, have a plan! Crack the windows to let in a breeze or bring along a battery-operated fan to keep the air moving. You can also buy windshield covers to help regulate the interior temperature and don’t forget to leave them with water!

On the other hand, if you’re traveling when it’s cold out, make sure your dog has blankets or a bed they can use to stay warm.


  1.     Make sure your dog has up-to-date tags or microchip information. 

Nothing is more frightening than the thought of your dog getting loose or taken while you travel! Make sure your method of tracking and identifying your dog is always up to date and on your dog.


  1.    Take a copy of your dog’s vaccination record.

Part of an adventure when taking a road trip with dogs is the unknown! But when it comes to making sure your dog can be taken care of properly in unexpected situations, having a copy of their vaccination record handy is vital. Make a copy to keep in your vehicle and snap a photo with your phone to make sure their information is always with you.


  1.     Know the risks and expectations of where you’re going.

All locations have different needs and risks. Make sure you know what wild animals might be around and what plants could be toxic. Make sure you know what restaurants and businesses allow dogs indoors. Knowing information like this will help you plan appropriately while on a road trip with dogs and keep them safe.


  1.    Give your dog their own space

It’s easy to overpack when traveling. And adding your dog to the mix only adds to that! But when on a road trip with dogs, it’s important to make sure they have space to stretch out, move around, and rest comfortably. If your dog is smaller, you’ll also want to make sure they have a secure space, maybe even with a dedicated seat, and that your packed items won’t shift and hurt them.


  1.   Make sure your dog’s leash, collar, harness, and crates are in good working order—and maybe have extras!

Even if your dog is well-trained and able to move around freely at home, you’ll want to make sure you have secure and well-fitted safety gear for your dog. Whether it’s to keep your dog safe in unknown circumstances or because it’s required, it might be worth it to keep extras around just in case! Also, it’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable with its gear before you travel, especially if you’re traveling with a puppy.


  1.   Pack a mix of old favorites and fun new toys for a road trip with dogs.

As fun as traveling with your dog may seem, there will likely be times on the road when they need some entertainment. Packing a good mix of both old toys you know your dog loves and new toys they’ve never experienced before is a good way to keep your dog entertained and even comforted on the road. And while you’re keeping them comforted, packing items that remind them of home—like a familiar blanket with your scent and their scent on it— can help edge out anxiety and nerves.


Taking a road trip with dogs can be a fun and rewarding experience. But it can be stressful to think about taking care of them in a different environment and anticipating all their needs. By breaking your packing list into three categories—basic needs, safety and security, and comfort and enjoyment—you can organize your thoughts and your packing list and make taking a road trip with dogs the highlight of your summer.



~ Christin Sanders 


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