Road Trip With Your Dog: Everything You Should Know

The world is becoming more and more accessible to dogs, which means more owners are taking their pets with them on trips. However, it can be hard to know how to keep your pup comfortable for a long ride in the car. Here, our Overwatch Animal Hospital vets share 11 tips for road-tripping with your dog safely.

Should I Take My Dog On A Road Trip?

The idea of taking a road trip with your dog is fun and exciting, especially when you consider all the new sights and places your pup will get to experience! However, with the wrong execution, hours of traveling in a car can be very stressful for both you and your pooch.

A well-socialized dog who loves adventure is bound to enjoy the trip. If your dog is a bit of a couch potato, they may just enjoy coming along for the relaxing drive and being with their human! Either way, it is important to know the best practices to keep your dog entertained, healthy, and relaxed during a road trip.

11 Tips For Traveling With Dogs In A Car Long Distance

Our experts at Overwatch Animal Hospital have shared the following 11 tips to safely road trip with your pup!

    1. Plan a pet-friendly route

    As your dog will need breaks for exercise and to go to the bathroom, it is important to pick a route that has safe rest stops, possibly even some public fields. 

    2. Make consistent stops

    Before you get on the road, you should know how often to stop on a road trip with a dog. Most vets agree that the average dog needs to take a break from a car ride every 2 to 4 hours. These breaks should be minimum 15 minutes long, but the longer the better!

    There are certain things that could change how many breaks your dog needs, such as their age or how prone they are to car sickness. If you're unsure, consult your veterinarian on how many breaks your pup should take on the trip.

    3. Plan meals accordingly

    Feed your pet a light meal three to four hours before you leave. While you're on the road, always stop when your dog needs food. Don't feed them in a moving vehicle to help avoid pet car sickness. 

    4. Never leave them in the car alone

    Never leave your dog alone in a parked car. It is a safety concern at temperatures higher than 70°F or lower than 35°F. However, passersby may decide to break your window to free your dog if they think they are trapped inside at any temperature. 

    5. Pack the essentials

    Packing your dog's food and water, treats, medicine, toys, feeding bowls, poop bags, extra leashes, first aid kit, stain, and odor removers, and other supplies will help keep you out of stores so you have more time for adventures. Make sure to include your pet's health records, including recent immunizations.

    6. Pet Identification is a must

    While your pet must be microchipped in case they go missing, it is also important to have dog tags on their collar with at least your name and current phone number for easy identification.

    7. Protect your dog and your car

    Keep your pet restrained during the ride. It isn't safe if they are hopping around the car while you're driving. There are products available from harnesses and hammocks to car-safe crates.

    8. Wear them out ahead of time

    A tired dog is often a well-behaved dog, so right before you leave for your trip, take your pet for a long run or a visit to the dog park. This will help ease travel anxiety and allow them to relax in the car.

    9. Provide entertainment

    Your dog can't always appreciate the radio like you. Aside from open windows and nice views, try to bring a chew toy for your dog to enjoy or a treat that takes a while to chew on, like a dog-safe bone or dental chew. 

    10. Don't ignore signs of anxiety

    Even if your dog is not typically anxious, you should anticipate possible discomfort or anxiety in order to counteract it. Pressure wraps like a Thundershirt or calming supplements for dogs are good things to have on hand. You can use them if you're in the car and notice your dog pacing in the backseat, whining, pawing, vomiting, or excessively scratching, as these are all signs of anxiety. 

    11. Check in with your vet

    Make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel. If your dog is in their senior years or has any existing health conditions, ask your vet if travel is safe for them and make sure their vaccines and flea and tick prevention are up to date.

    Is It Worth It To Road Trip With My Dog?

    Your dog's life can be more fulfilling and healthy if you take them further than the block around the house. Social, curious dogs benefit from seeing more of the world and soaking in new experiences.

    That being said, it's normal for owners to feel apprehensive about taking their pooch with them on a long trip for the first time, especially in the car. If you follow the above tips and consult your vet for any special conditions your dog may have, you should be able to have a safe, fun trip with your furry friend!

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition. 

    If you are planning to travel with your dog, contact our Clarksville vets to update their vaccinations and receive flea and tick prevention for a safe trip!