What to pack for a road trip with your dog(s)
If you are like us, you love your dogs and want to spend as much time with them as you can. Taking your dog on a road trip, whether it be for a couple of days, or a week or so, can be a lot of fun, but it can also be full of challenges that you may not have fully considered before.
With a little guidance, planning, and some adjustments to your expectations, a road trip with your dog can be a great idea. Before you hit the road with your best friend as your co-pilot, be sure to pack these items and you will be sure to have a great trip that is enjoyable for both of you. So, let’s start planning your pet-friendly travel adventures.
What to Pack:
You know you need to feed your dog, but have you thought about how you will access it when you are away? When you are on a road trip with your dog, you may not be able to find your dog’s specific diet just anywhere, so pack enough of his regular food to last you the entire time you are gone. It is always a good idea to have more than you need, just in case something comes up. Measure your cups per day that you feed your dog, and multiply that by the number of days you be gone. How many cups are in a bag? How many bags will you need to bring? If you feed canned food, do not forget a can opener if the can is not a pull top.
Make sure you have plenty of your dog’s favourite treats on hand. This is great for giving your dog some comforts of home, rewards for play time, and distractions during stressful times. Keep the treats in a dog proof container, or out of the dog’s reach at all times to avoid accidental ingestion.
Pack jugs of water to ensure your dog has water at all times. I would recommend several 4L jugs (some frozen in advance to maintain coldness), and a couple smaller 1-2 L bottles for carrying, and refilling in hotel rooms. Squeeze bottles work great for rinsing paws, as well as preventing spillage. It is always a great idea to keep bottled water on hand because not all communities may have safe drinking water.
• Water Bowls:
Bring stable water bowls for when you are in your hotel room, as well as collapsible bowls for when you are out exploring. Portable travel bowls are light and easy to carry with you in a small bag or backpack.
Fast-drying towels will come in handy when you take your dog on a road trip. If your dog enjoys swimming in rivers, lakes, or oceans you can dry them off nicely before they get back into the car. This will help to prevent hotspots, skin infections, and irritations. It is also a good idea if your dog experiences any travel sickness.
Bring your dog’s favourite toys to play with on your road trip. If your dog is an active dog who needs to run and play in a park to burn off pent-up energy, bring a “chuck-it” toy or something similar that your dog enjoys. Keeping your dog from being bored is key to having an amazing road trip.
• Enrichment Toys:
Items such as a “KONG” stuffed with a combination of canned food, kibble, treats, etc. and then frozen can give your dog hours of enjoyment while you are in the car. You can prepare new ones for the next day, every night while you are in your hotel. This will also help keep your dog from being bored while on the road trip.
• Extra Leash & Collars:
In the event that your current leash/collar becomes damaged, dirty, lost, or unusable, you don’t want to be struggling to find a new one. Having an extra set on hand will prevent an unnecessary detour to find a pet store. We order great hand made collars and leashes from Cookie and Clovis for our dogs. This is our go-to for fun and amazing designs in collars and leashes, with a personal touch.
• Poop Bags:
Always have a large supply of poop bags in your vehicle, in your bag, and on your person, etc. You never know when or where your dog may need to do a #2, and you don’t want to be an inconsiderate pet owner. Always pick up after your pooch. Biodegradable or compostable bags are the best for the environment.
• First Aid Kit:
Packing a well-stocked first aid kit is a great idea for any road trip with your dog. If you do not know what to put in a first aid kit for your dog, talk to your veterinarian or Veterinary Technicians, and they will happily assist you with compiling a first aid kit for your road trip. Items such as bandage material, tweezers, antihistamines, gloves, and gauze are a good beginning. We will have suggestions for what to put in your pet first aid kit posted in a future article. At many big pet stores, you can find prepackaged first aid kits, as well.
• Medical History:
Bring your dog’s most recent history – any medications or supplements your dog may be on (name, strength, dosage etc. all written out), current type, Vaccine certificates, the name and contact information for your regular Veterinary clinic where you take your dog for medical care. In the event of a medical issue, you may need to take your pet to an emergency veterinary clinic, and they will need to know some basics about your dog’s health. Also, vaccine records are required if crossing the border. Have everything written out, and in a small folder that you can put in your glove compartment.
If your dog is microchipped, is the contact information correct and up to date? Do you know the microchip number? Do you know who to contact if your dog is lost? Have all of this information together in one place that is easily accessible in the event that your dog goes missing while you are away. If your dog is not microchipped, talk to your veterinary team about getting this done before you go.
Line your dog’s crate with a nice comfy blanket that reminds them of home and keeps them comfortable. You can also purchase ‘cooling beds’ which are nice if it is a warm-weather trip. Having a dog-specific blanket to put on the bed in your hotel room is also a good idea, to cut down on hair/fur left behind after you leave your pet-friendly hotel.
• Reflective gear:
Safety should always be the top priority whenever you bring your dog on a road trip. If you like to go out at night, or hiking in the woods, etc., reflective gear or light up leash/collars are always a great idea to be sure you (and others) can spot ‘Spot’ from a distance.
A nice safe & sturdy crate with lots of openings for air to pass through is the safest way to travel with your dog. The crate should be big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around. A lightweight collapsible crate or X-pen is a great idea for bringing in to the hotel rooms.
• Life Vest:
Does your dog like to go swimming, or do you plan on taking your dog canoeing/boating on your road trip? Pack a life vest that is sized appropriately for your dog; you can usually find these at a good pet store near you, and veterinary clinics (where you will also get great pet safety advice).
• Harness Seatbelt:
You may wish to drive with your dog on the seat of the vehicle. If so, the back seat is best. Have a harness seat belt to ensure they are safe and secure if you need to make an abrupt stop. Make sure it is well fitting, and the appropriate size for your individual dog.
• Pet-Friendly Accommodations:
One other thing you may want to bring with you is a list of pet-friendly hotels or accommodations where you know you can check in with your dog. There are many ‘pet-friendly’ hotels, but the term pet-friendly means different things to different people. Be sure to check each hotel chain for pet policies and prices. This can vary, and the price of a pet’s stay can become very expensive.
Some good options for chains that are great for pet-friendly travel are:
budget: Red Roof Inn
Having these items in your dog’s luggage will definitely go a long way to making sure you have a great road trip with your dog. Have I forgotten something that you should be on this list? If you have more suggestions on what to pack for your dog road trip, I would love to hear from you.
Happy road tripping with your dog(s)
You can Follow Random & Hazzard’s travel adventures at: @RandomsTravels