With summer finally here, many of us are excited to hit the road for a much needed get away. Taking your dog along can be fun and with some preparation they can enjoy the trip with you.
While you’re packing up the car, don’t forget pet necessities. Take photos of your dog’s vaccination records in case you need to board your dog or visit a vet while away from home. Keep some current photos of your dog on your phone too. Pack food, poop bags, medications and keep a collapsible bowl with water in the car so your dog can drink regularly. Have your dog microchipped before traveling and attach a set of id tags to his collar or harness.
A pet first aid kit is an essential item too. The American Red Cross has a Pet First Aid app you can download for quick reference if your dog becomes injured or ill. If your dog gets car sick, consult with your veterinarian about possible medications to help ease the queasiness during travel time.
Leave some space in the car for your dog’s crate or confinement area. There should be enough room to stretch out and rest comfortably. Set it up with a comfy blanket and some favorite toys to help your dog settle in. For a dog, unpacking a food stuffed toy like a Kong™ can be the equivalent of kids chilling out to movies in the back seat.
Dogs who are crate trained and comfortable in confined spaces make better traveling companions. It’s worth taking time to crate train your dog well before you hit the road. A crate can also come in handy once you’ve reached your destination. It gives your dog a safe, quiet place to relax in a new environment and helps with management if your dog needs to be temporarily separated from allergic family members or other dogs who may not want to share their home. A crate is also useful for dogs who can’t sit still in the car. It keeps Fido from bouncing from window to window and can be covered to reduce barking.
While many dogs ride calmly in the car, it’s still important to make sure they’re secure in the event of an accident. An alternative to a crate is a secure seatbelt harness. It will keep the dog in place in the seat, allowing him to look out the windows and lie down to rest.
While on the road, keep your dog’s head in the car. Having fresh air blowing in his face may look like fun, but flying debris can cause injuries and fast-moving air can damage a dog’s eyes and ears.
Plan for regular potty breaks along the way. How often you stop depends on the age and health of your dog. Puppies and older dogs may need more frequent potty breaks, so you may need to stop every couple of hours.
Interstate highways have public rest areas and most include designated dog potty areas. Take time to let your dog sniff and explore a bit. It’s good for the humans to get out and stretch their legs too. Use a secure body harness (with ID tags) and leash while at the rest stop, to prevent your dog from bolting if startled by traffic noises or if there is wildlife nearby. Please pick up after your dog.