As a dog owner, chances are that you love to take your dog with you when you travel. Like most dogs, yours probably loves car rides and gets super excited. But if you're going on a long car trip, then you have to make sure its going to be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved, including your pet. We have some helpful car travel tips so that the trip will go as smoothly as possible.
Your dog may be small, and you may think its ok to carry him in your lap. Even if you're not the one doing the driving, this is not a good idea for long periods of time. Your dog needs to be restrained in some way, not only so that he doesn't run around the car and distract you, but also for his own safety in case of an accident. A carrier is a popular choice for car trips. Make sure the carrier you choose is large enough for your dog to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. And don't put too many other items in the carrier either. Your dog's favorite toy or blanket can be in there with him.
What's the temperature going to be like where you're traveling to? And what is it going to be like on the road? Needless to say, never leave your dog alone in the car. It can take only a few minutes for the temperature to rise or fall to dangerous levels. In hot weather, it is not enough to lower the car windows. That will not provide enough ventilation. In the cold, keep in mind that your dog can get hypothermia. Best practice is not to leave your dog in the car.
Records And Paperwork
Traveling across state lines? You may have to produce your dog's vaccination information. We recommend carrying a first aid kit, which has copies of all your dog's records and medical information. If your dog isn't micro-chipped, consider getting that done just in case he wanders off. And of course, carrying up to date pictures of your dog is a good idea. But we're sure you have them on your phone! Your dog's collar should have his name, and your contact number. Always bring a spare collar and leash too.
A long trip likely means that you will be staying overnight somewhere. Whether this is a hotel, airbnb or a camp, you have to check beforehand if they allow dogs, and if there's an extra cost. If you don't have places to stay planned out, then it's worth your while to look up dog friendly places in the places you'll be driving through and have a list on hand.
Food And Water
Don't let your dog overeat before traveling. That will reduce the possibility of him getting sick or being nauseous. Even for a car trip that is only an overnighter, it's a good idea to carry his food and bottled water. This way you don't have to find a store that sells your preferred brand of dog food. And if you get a different brand, that might upset his stomach, especially when combined with the stress of traveling.
You may be able to go long periods without stopping, but your dog can't. Plan a pit stop every 3-4 hours to ensure your dog has plenty of opportunities to stretch and take potty breaks. Giving him a break from the car will keep him happy for the rest of the ride.
Taking your dog to the vet before a trip is recommended. The vet can check his general health and make sure he's ok to travel. If he has anxiety issues, then your vet could prescribe him a sedative. Never, ever self medicate your dog or give him your medication.
It may be that you have to travel but can't take your dog with you. As much as you might want to take him, we understand that there are situations when it is not possible. In that case, you have a few options. Using your favorite pet sitter may be your top choice. If you've never used a pet sitter before, then get recommendations from friends and from pet sitting websites well in advance of your trip and meet with some if you can. Pet sitters can get booked out, so make sure you book one in plenty of time. If that's not an option, then you can look into boarding your dog at a kennel. Again, do your research and find a kennel that is highly rated. A lot of kennels will send you pictures and updates of your dog throughout the day too, to keep your mind at ease. And finally, you could ask close friends or family to take him in for a few days while you're gone.
There are a lot of options, whether you want to take your dog with you or have to travel without him.