Sharing a road trip adventure with your best four-legged friend is an experience unlike any other, and can make for a truly unforgettable experience. However, poor planning can quickly ruin a dog-friendly vacation, and send you both home early and disappointed. From packing snacks and entertainment to quick clean up basics to first-aid essentials, we’ve got you covered. To help remedy the unexpected, we’ve gathered 10 packing essentials to make sure your road trip is one you’ll never forget!
If your dog will be confined for any period of time, either in the car or a carrier, they’re likely to build some pent up energy. Dogs need daily exercise, and traveling days are no different. To prevent problem behaviors from developing from access energy on the road, there are several items you should pack to keep your best four-legged friend entertained on your trip.
Bring a leash (and backup leash), treats, toys and chews. Additionally, pack your dog’s favorite activity from home to keep them happy on the road. Cesar’s Way provides great tips and tricks for burning energy in small spaces, from working for treats to playing keep away, running up and downstairs, and more. These energy-burning opportunities are a fantastic way to burn energy, and also to build your dog’s confidence on the road.
2. Dog Vehicle Safety
Keeping your dog safe in the vehicle requires some preparation, but it’s a crucial step in protecting their wellbeing while traveling. From dog car hammocks to seat belts, car seats, carriers and more, there are plenty of options on the market to keep your dog safe on a road trip. To best prepare for your trip, take your dog on short outings beforehand to assess how they ride in the vehicle. This information will help you understand what dog safety equipment is best suited for your dog’s needs in the car.
3. Cleaning Essentials
Motion sickness strikes even the most experienced four-legged passengers, and the result can be quite an unpleasant mess. When you hit the road with your dog, always make sure to pack extra towels, pet-friendly wet wipes, antibacterial wipes, waste bags, and towels for any potential cleanup situations. These items will absolutely come in handy when you need them most.
Additionally, aside from motion sickness while on the road, towels and other cleaning items are also quite useful after a day on the beach, or when you get caught in the rain!
It’s important for your dog’s safety that they wear identification any time they leave the house, especially while traveling. Accidents happen, and if by some chance they get away from you while on the road, proper identification tags will get them back to you as soon as possible.
Keep a collar on your dog at all times while traveling with a tag that will direct any finders back to you. The AVMA recommends carrying a current color photo of your dog, and an identification tag that includes the owner’s name, current home address, and phone number. Additionally, they recommend carrying a travel ID tag which includes the owner’s local contact phone number, address, and contact information of your residency accommodations.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure to carry your dog’s microchip registration information, and that it’s up to date with your current means of contact.
5. Food and Water
Packing ample food and water for your dog on a road trip is essential for their health and well being. Not only should they have access to fresh and clean water at every stop, but they should also be offered food at their regular feeding times during the trip. For example, if you usually feed your dog at breakfast and dinner time, then stick to that schedule on the road. Additionally, pack healthy dog snacks for stops along the way. Not only will snacks keep your dog happy, but it can be used for training and as a reward for traveling well during the journey.
Although packing food and water is essential, remember you’ll also need bowls to offer these items to your dog in. Ideally, pack travel food and water bowls that are portable and great for traveling.
6. Medical Records
Although medical records don’t typically come to mind for high-priority packing items, these records will come very much in handy if an accident arises. The AVMA recommends carrying current copies of your dog’s medical records, including pre-existing conditions and current medications.
If you’re traveling within country, a brief copy of medical records should suffice, whereas if you’re traveling out of country you’ll need a much more thorough background to their medical history.
7. Veterinary Information
Accidents happen. To best prepare for an emergency, carry your veterinarian’s contact information with you at all times during travel. Additionally, you should plan ahead and prepare a list of 24 hour emergency hospitals near your locations along the way, and close to your final destination.
To find veterinary clinics near you, search the American Animal Hospital Association Search.
8. Leash and Collar
Much like taking your dog to a park, beach or other public area, make sure your dog is wearing her collar, leash and identification tags at all times during travel. If for any reason your dog wanders off or gets lost, these items are essential to finding their way back to you.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to microchip your dog at adoption. A microchip holds an individual identification number, and when this chip is scanned it can direct the finders to the dog’s owner. When an animal is found and taken into a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things staff will do is scan for a microchip. If this information is accurate and up to date, this will lead the finders and your dog back to you.
If a dog is found without a collar, tags, or microchip, it becomes much more difficult to find the dog’s home and family. By simply preparing identification ahead of time, you’ll ensure that your dog is safe even in extreme circumstances.
9. Waste Bags
When your dog takes care of business, it’s your responsibility to clean up after her- especially in public places. Not only does this prevent an unsuspecting someone from stepping in waste, but dog feces can also be harmful to local wildlife and the environment. Picking up after your dog and disposing of the mess properly prevent this from being an issue for others around.
If carrying dog waste bags in your pocket is inconvenient, consider purchasing a bag holder that clips onto your dog’s leash- this way it’s with you at all times whenever your dog needs to relieve herself. Additionally, remember to pack a back-up roll so you won’t run out.
10. First-Aid Kit
A dog first-aid kit is essential for dog parents on the road, especially in the event of a natural disaster when far away from immediate medical assistance. Although a first-aid preparedness kit may not be needed on your adventures, it is something that is sure to come in handy when you need it most. From injuries to ingesting something toxic, there are many accidents that may require immediate medical attention while traveling.
The ASPCA Animal Control Center recommends packing a do-it-yourself dog first-aid kit that every dog parent should carry with while adventuring. According to the ASPCA, your kit should contain:
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting *Always check with a veterinarian expert before administering to your dog.
- Ice pack
- Disposable gloves
- Scissors with blunt end
- OTC antibiotic ointment
- Oral syringe
- Liquid dishwashing detergent for bathing
- Alcohol wipes
- Saline eye solution
- Styptic powder
- Artificial tear gel
- Veterinarian phone number, clinic name, and address.
Now that you understand the packing basics for a road trip with your best four-legged friend, you’ll be ready to hit the road on a dog-friendly adventure straight away! If you’d like to learn even more inside tips for traveling with your dog, check out Beyond the Basics: 10 Tips for Traveling With Your Dog. By preparing ahead of time, you’ll set your dog, and yourself, up for success on the road.
Remember to be patient with your dog during travel, and to thoroughly prepare ahead of time. Additionally, if your dog doesn’t have the temperament for travel, don’t force it. An adventure with your dog should be a rewarding experience for you both, and by packing accordingly you’ll set yourself up for a successful trip. Now it’s time to hit the road with your best friend and create memories that’ll last a lifetime!
Written by Carly Sutherland, writer and content creator for Seaside Planet.