Traveling with your dog can be a lot of fun. But, it also has the potential to be really stressful as well. Planning ahead and making sure you have everything you need on-hand can help you cover the bases and keep the trip fun. Here are some tips for traveling with dogs:
1. Visit the Vet
Part of planning to travel with your dog should include a visit to the vet. You want to make sure your dog is healthy and up to date on all of their vaccinations before you set off on your trip.
Plus, the vet may have some recommendations to keep in mind based on your dog’s health history. This is also a good chance to get a copy of your dog’s medical records. Also, if you’re planning on flying with a dog, the airline will likely require specific documentation from your vet.
2. Get Advice on Handling Motion Sickness
Some dogs are more prone to motion sickness and car sickness than others. If your dog is one of them, your vet can give you some advice on what to do and what you can give your dog to help them. Not all over-the-counter medications are safe for dogs, but some are.
Your vet can give you the best recommendations on any over-the-counter medications that are safe for dogs as well as the proper dosage for your dog. Depending on the severity of the motion sickness, your vet may also be able to recommend or prescribe something more effective that is formulated specifically for dogs.
3. Plan Ahead
Some places don’t allow pets. So, unless you plan ahead, you can’t guarantee that everywhere you go will welcome your dog. By planning ahead, you can pick dog-friendly attractions to see and ensure the accommodations you reserve are also dog-friendly. Dog-friendly travel guides can be a great place to start your research.
But, even if a place is advertised as dog-friendly, you’ll still want to reach out and check. Some places have special events where dogs are not welcome and some are only dog-friendly during certain times of day or times of the year. Also, dog-friendly hotel rooms can sometimes fill up quickly, so it’s a good idea to reserve your room ahead of time and confirm your reservation before you leave.
4. Pack All the Essentials
One of the major tips for traveling with dogs is to pack all the essentials. It can be helpful to make a packing list, so you know you have everything you need for both you and your dog. Here are a few things to include on the packing list for your dog:
When traveling, there’s always a chance that your dog could get lost – especially in an unfamiliar place. Make sure your dog’s identification and registration are updated. If your dog is microchipped, make sure it is updated with your current contact information.
You might also want to think about adding a friend’s phone number who lives in the area you will be traveling to. If your dog is not microchipped, it may be a good idea to consider microchipping your dog before you travel or even adding a GPS tracker* (Amazon Affiliate Link) to their collar. It’s also smart to bring along a current picture of your dog in case they get lost.
Include the Necessities
Necessities for your dog include things like a water bowl, a food bowl, food, any medications your dog might need, a copy of their medical records, ID, leash, collar and/or harness, waste bags, crate, and more.
Pack Some Familiar Items
Some dogs can have “adjustment” issues when they go on long trips. This can cause both anxiety and tummy troubles for your pooch. Keeping a few familiar items on hand like their usual brand of food, a few favorite toys, blankets from home, and more can help them adjust a little easier to the stress of travel.
Add Useful Items
Add some useful items to your packing list. If you’re planning to pack lighter, you can switch out a standard food or water bowl with collapsible dog bowls* (Amazon Affiliate Link). Not only does this save space in your bags, but it also gives you something useful for long walks, pit stops, or hiking trips.
You also never know what your dog will get into. So, it’s usually a good idea to bring some brushes, a travel-size bottle of doggie shampoo, and an extra towel for your dog. Depending on your trip, you might want to consider bringing a dog bed along for the trip too.
5. Don’t Forget About Car Safety
It’s also important to think about car safety for both you and your dog. This is one of the most important tips for traveling with dogs. Just like people, dogs should be restrained while traveling in a vehicle. If you are involved in a car accident, a loose dog can be severely injured.
Dogs can also present a major hazard to your safety if they are roaming freely in your vehicle. A car harness for dogs or a secured crate are usually the most popular options for securing your dog in a car and are car safety tips for dogs.
Car Harness for Dogs
If you don’t have one already, take the time to buy a car safety harness for your dog. Even if you’re planning to use a secured crate, having a car harness for dogs* (Amazon Affiliate Link) on-hand is a good idea in case your dog gets restless and wants out of the crate. These car harnesses work much like a walking harness except they attach to the seat belt to keep your dog in their own seat.
They allow your dog some freedom of movement while also keeping them secure. This not only prevents your dog from trying to climb out the window while you’re driving, but also from trying to climb in the front seat or on your lap, which can create a dangerous distraction while you’re moving. Once everyone is safely buckled up, you’re good to go!
One of the safest ways to travel with your dog is to put them in a crate that’s been certified as safe for use in vehicles. A crate that is secured within your car also serves as a comforting, familiar place for your dog to sleep.
Plus, whether you’re sleeping in a tent, at a friend’s house, or in a hotel, your dog will feel secure. For some dogs, their crate may be too big for use in the car. In this case, a car harness for dogs is the best option.
6. Make Every Pit Stop a Walk Stop
Pit stops are typically a necessity when it comes to road trips, especially for longer trips. Whenever you have to stop, it’s a good time to walk your dog as well. A little water and a chance to go potty can help make the trip go smoothly and prevent any accidents while you’re driving.
Most rest stops will have specified dog walking areas, so make sure to stick to those and clean up as necessary. If you’re stopping at a place that doesn’t have a rest stop, try to find the biggest patch of grass available so your dog can take care of business. Even if they don’t have to go to the bathroom, it’s still a good idea to let them stretch their legs and move around a bit.
Getting out of the car for a couple of minutes is likely to benefit you both! In fact, providing some exercise and mental stimulation by making every pit stop a walk stop can help keep your dog calm on car rides.
When traveling with dogs, the most important thing to remember is that you must think ahead. You need to make sure that your dog has a place to be every minute of every day, that they get enough exercise to keep you both sane during the trip, and to plan for worst-case scenarios like health crises. If you’re prepared, you really have nothing to worry about and you and your dog can have a stress-free trip together!
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