Road Trips with Fido

October 27, 2018

3 minute read

Hitting the road is a summer tradition--whether it’s off to the beach or on an epic cross-country road trip. But before putting the pedal to the metal, double check your packing list. Snacks? Check. Road trip playlist? Check. Doggo? Hmm.

Most of us think of our pets as family members. But even so, puppers are often left behind when their families travel. It doesn’t have to be that way. Airlines are more accommodating to pets than ever and major airports now have pet-relief areas. But, especially given the number of hotels and restaurant patios that welcome dogs, road trips remain the most pet-friendly travel option out there. So, what are you waiting for?

First Stop: The Vet

Different areas of the country are more prone to certain doggie illnesses (such as heartworm or ticks) than others. Your vet can advise if your dog needs additional immunizations or preventative medications.

As well, if you plan to leave your pup at a doggie daycare or kennel (perhaps while you spend the day at an amusement park or shopping mall), he may need updated shots for kennel cough, parvo, distemper, and/or rabies.

Ask your vet for a copy of the immunization records. If they’re not needed for a daycare or kennel, they may be required for camping at some state parks and for international border crossings.

One last thing: if your doggo isn’t already microchipped, now’s the time. When he’s far away from his familiar neighborhood, a lost dog may get confused and panicked--and run away from friendly help, or even his guardian. A microchip is your best shot at finding each other if that happens.

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A crate keeps your dog safe and comfortable during road trips

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Seatbelts and harnesses can also help keep your dog safe on the road, if bringing a crate isn't an option.

Car Safety

We all know it’s a bad idea to drive with an unrestrained pet, but many of us do it anyway. An upcoming road trip is a good reason to invest in a crate for your vehicle or a harness that attaches to a seatbelt. In both cases, your dog is restrained and not distracting the driver. As well, both will keep Fido from bolting at an accident site.

Regardless of which you choose, do your research. Pick one that suits your dog’s size and needs, and that performs well in crash tests.

As well, keep in mind that the best place for a restrained dog is usually in the back seat. Like infants, doggos don’t fair well in the front passenger seat if the airbag inflates. And the cargo area of most vehicles is designated as the “crumple zone,” which is a safety feature designed to keep the occupants in the middle of the car safe.

Pack a Suitcase

It’s easier to keep track of your dog’s gear if it’s all in one place. Fill a suitcase or duffel bag with all the essentials your dog will need for the trip. This can include things like:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Food, bones, and treats
  • Extra Leash & Collar
  • Poop Bags

If your cell phone number isn’t already on your dog's tag, get an updated tag before your trip. (You can do this easily at many pet stores, or by ordering a new tag online.) In case your dog goes missing, its better to be prepared with an up-to-date number so that you don't miss any calls from good samaritans who may be trying to help.

As well, keep in mind that the best place for your dog is always in the back seat. Like infants, dogs don’t fair well in the front passenger seat if the airbag inflates. And the cargo area of most vehicles is designated as the “crumple zone,” which is a safety feature designed to keep the occupants in the middle of the car safe.

On The Road

Once you’ve hit the highway, these tips can keep the drive stress-free and enjoyable for everyone:

  • Take along toys and hard chew treats to keep your dog occupied.
  • Be mindful of the car’s environment. Since dogs overheat more easily than we do, keep that air conditioning running. As well, protect your dogs sensitive hearing by keeping music turned low and/or adjusting the speakers so that sound is primarily at the front.
  • Take rest stops every couple of hours. A good romp will make the next leg of the trip more bearable for your dog, and by extension, you!
  • Stick to your usual routine as much as possible when you're on the road. Your dog will appreciate his usual meal around the same time, and this semblance of routine can really help ease his stress.

Listed in an article like this, the details may seem like a lot to attend to. But the end result - flying down the highway with your destination in sight and your best furry buddy along with you - will make it all worth it.

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