by Rebecca R.

Road tripping for the upcoming holidays? If you’re thinking of bringing your dog along, here are some essential things to consider as you plan.

Before You Go, Visit the Vet

Before traveling, schedule a vet visit to verify that your dog is in travel-ready health and up-to-date on all vaccinations. It’s wise to request a copy of your dog’s medical record to take on the road. Pet parents should also consider microchipping their dog in the event they get lost — a chip can help identify a pet so that they can be reunited with their family.

Dog Car Safety

To ensure their safety in the car, dogs should wear a car harness that attaches to a seatbelt or travel in a crate. Both options will help keep your dog protected in the event of a sudden stop or collision. 

If your dog is harnessed, get them used to wearing a harness before the trip. Let your dog wear their harness in the house, only for a few minutes initially, and utilize positive reinforcement like treats and praise to reward your dog for wearing the harness. As your dog grows more comfortable, take them for short car rides to further acclimate them to their harness.    

If you decide to crate your dog in the car, take the time needed to sufficiently crate train your dog before the trip. If your dog is already crate trained, that’s one less thing to do! Make sure the crate is sturdy and provides enough space for your dog to stand up, turn, and lie down. Determine the safest place in the car to put the crate, making sure that your dog can get adequate airflow. Take your dog on practice trips before embarking on your road trip.

What to Bring For Dogs On A Road Trip 

Your pet packing list should include:

  • A sturdy leash and collar with identification tags bearing pertinent information (dog’s name, owner’s name, phone number, etc.), proof of rabies vaccination, micro-chip number. It’s wise to bring a backup leash and collar
  • Food
  • Bottled water
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Medications, if applicable
  • Poop bags
  • Crate or harness
  • Toy(s)
  • Dog bed and blanket
  • Health record, including vaccinations record
  • A recent picture of your dog

Final Considerations

As you put together your travel itinerary, be sure to plan bathroom and exercise breaks for your dog at least every 4-6 hours. And if you’ll be lodging along the way, verify pet policies before making a reservation. Additionally, double-check that the hotel you’re staying at has a grassy area for those bathroom outings. Happy travels!