You’re not alone if the thought of taking a road trip with your dog stresses you out. Trippy user Jillian had a similar feeling. She posted her question asking for the best tips for traveling with a dog:
Best tips for traveling with your dog? Hi, Trippy pet owners/lovers! With the holidays approaching, I’ll be traveling a lot with my dog. What’s the best travel advice you’ve found from traveling with your pets? Looking for anything general to specific—helpful accessories (carriers, bowls, etc.)? Treats or stress reducers? Money savers? Best way to get through an airport? In-flight tips? Anything and everything, please give me your best tips!
Here are 11 essential tips to help you plan the most comfortable and amazing road trip with your dog:
1. Make sure your dog is healthy
When in doubt, consult your veterinarian to make sure your dog is fit to travel. Check with your veterinarian on the types of preventative medicine to bring on your road trip. Most importantly, get your dog microchipped if you haven’t done it yet. In an unfamiliar environment, dogs may get confused and dart out of the car door once you open it.
2. Look for signs of motion sickness
Lindsay from London wrote:
Driving with your dog? Dogs are super sensitive to motion sickness, so chances are, they will probably get sick. Reduce the amount of food you give them in the morning. Driving on an overindulged stomach will increase the chances of a little vomit. When you stop, give your dog a little snack (something high in protein!) and be sure to go for a short walk to release any pent up energy.
Dogs are prone to getting motion sickness. Look for signs like excessive drooling, or gagging. Trippy user Elliott from San Francisco shared this:
Nausea is another problem that plagues pets that travel. In dogs, drooling and looking sick to their stomach likely are signs of carsickness. It probably isn’t a good idea to feed your pet a large meal before a trip, especially before a plane flight. When going on a long car trip, try feeding small meals during rest stops, and feed the biggest meal at the end of the day.
3. Pack the essentials
Pack bowls, water, food, medications, leash and collar, dog ID tag, dog bed, poop bags, treats, dog first aid kit, pee pad, and your dog’s favorite toys. To sum it up, take this checklist with you:
- Drinking and food bowls
- Dog’s favorite food
- Leash and collar
- Dog ID tag with your name, phone number, and other necessary travel information
- Dog bed (optional)
- Poop bags
- Dog first aid kit
- Pee pad
- Dog’s favorite toys
- Favorite pillow
- Disinfectant spray
- Vaccination record
4. Car safety items for your dog
For safety, dogs are required to buckle up. Find out which is best for yours – a dog car seat, dog seat belt, kennel, or crate. Lindsay recommended this if you use a crate:
Do you crate your dog? If you do, make sure nothing in there can harm them (obviously). But I’m talking about a leash or loose collar. Nothing in there can be hazardous, even toys!
Get the right safety harness for your dog and never drive with your dog in your lap or in the front seat of the car. Secure the kennel or crate to avoid sliding when you make a turn or have to encounter an abrupt stop.
5. Calm an anxious dog
Elliott suggested this when taking a road trip with your dog:
The first step is to watch for signs that you or your pet is stressed. If you are feeling stressed, your pet will feel stressed as well! Count on it! That is easier said than done because not all animals express distress in the same ways. Some animals that are very anxious show obvious signs, such as pacing and vocalizing, whereas other equally stressed pets may give much more subtle indications. For dogs, watch for excessive salivation, panting, a furrowed brow, holding their ears back, and frequent lip-licking or yawning. Yes, Yawning is an indicator of stress in dogs and people.
Your dog will sense how you feel. Reduce stress by planning ahead, prepare your dog and yourself before hitting the road. Or follow Greg’s and Kira’s advice:
We have found that a Thundercoat helps calm our dog, a Yorkie, both in the car and on the plane.
HAPPY TRAVELER! Hands down the best all-natural product we have used for our dog. Normally can’t sit still in the car because he is so excited for the destination, Happy Traveler pills saved our lives on a cross-country move.
6. Plan pit stops
Do your research and locate the dog-friendly stops before traveling. Road tripper Elizabeth received five recommendations for pet-friendly stops for her road trip from Myrtle Beach to Kansas City.
Kid/Pet-Friendly Stops? My children and I (and our Chihuahua) will be traveling from Myrtle Beach to Kansas City next week. Our course of travel is as follows: Day 1: MB to Columbia (SC), on through Asheville (NC), and finally to Gatlinburg for the night. Day 2: Gatlinburg through Nashville and on to Saint Louis for the night. Day 3: Saint Louis to Kansas City. I am searching for kid/pet-friendly things to do/ places to see along this route. I would like to make this an interesting and educational trip for the kids but have to consider that our options will be limited due to our dog. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
If you don’t have a dog sitter and enough time so you can go to the St. Louis Zoo (rated best zoo in the U.S.! it’s free to get in but parking costs.), concentrate on St. Louis County Parks & Recreation Department attractions–most are free and are great for relaxing the kids on a long trip. What activities do your kids like? Sylvan Springs has an outdoor skate park (board, BMX bikes, scooters & rollerblades). Laumeier Sculpture Park has large-sized outdoor sculptures with ideas to engage kids with the art. Water play areas have summer appeal (pack swimsuits!) and benches in the shade for parents at Creve Coeur Park Picnic Site 1, Branwood shelter, Sylvan Springs Park, and Tilles Park Hiking trails–Appendix A of Trail Policy of St. Louis County lists the length of the trails. Assume you can bring your Chihuahua unless the site states, “pets, domestic animals are not allowed.” Only a handful have a pet policy– such as the Wild Bird Sanctuary where your Chi may be seen as a tasty meal! Check the website or contact the St. Louis County Parks Dept if you want to be reassured.
7. Pet-friendly hotels
Stay in La Quinta Inns and apply for a rewards card. They are very dog friendly. You cannot take a dog in the dining area. Clean up after the dog, and they are very nice. They even provide the bags. You will have no problem stopping along the route as you desire. Petsmart has a screen cage that makes it easy to travel with a small pet. No need to plan much. It will be a fun journey and you will see signs for attractions. I stop each hour for 5 min with pets and children. Avoids DVT.
Having stayed in hotels with a dog between Vegas and SLC, the best thing to do is to call around. Even the motel 6’s don’t always allow dogs in small towns. Be sure to call and see if they are pet friendly – their websites aren’t super reliable. You can always check Airbnb as well. We’ve stayed in some great and pet-friendly locations via Airbnb.
Most pet-friendly hotels charge a pet fee if you’re checking in with your dog. Call ahead and find out all the fees needed. La Quinta has a nominal fee, and you can read all about it on their website.
8. Never leave your dogs unattended
Keep your dog safe and well-ventilated in the vehicle by keeping a comfortable temperature inside. And never leave your dog unattended or leave your dog in an overheated car while you go to the restroom or get a bite to eat. Likewise, during wintertime, the temperature in your vehicle may cause harm to your dog.
9. Don’t overfeed your dog
A full stomach may cause nausea. It’s best to give your dog a light meal or feed him or her at least three hours before hitting the road. Bring bottled water because the water in an unfamiliar environment may cause discomfort.
10. Go for walks before and after a long drive
Lindsay took many road trips with her dog in the UK. She wrote:
Me and my dog go everywhere together, so I understand how much dog travel tips can help. Before you travel, tire your dog out! Go for a long walk, run, whatever you need to do to get your pup sleepy. This helps especially when flying, I notice my dogs’ anxiety goes away when we go for long walks before leaving.
When you arrive at your destination, go for a long walk before you check-in at the hotel. Your dog will feel more comfortable as soon as he (or she) sees and smells their new surroundings.
11. Prepare first
Take your dog on a few short trips in your hometown for a few weeks before embarking on longer journeys.