Whether your dog is a seasoned road warrior or novice traveler, plan ahead for his comfort and safety. Doing so makes road trips less stressful, so everyone can enjoy the trip!
If your dog isn't accustomed to traveling distances in a car, start with short rides and gradually lengthened them. If it turns out your dog doesn't enjoy riding in the car, don't ruin your vacation. Find a reputable kennel to board him or hire a dog sitter. If leaving the dog behind isn't an option, ask your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications.
Look for pet-friendly hotels that welcome and are prepared to handle dogs. Ask about any available pet amenities and the accompanying cost. Many hotels charge a non-refundable pet deposit, as well as a daily pet charge. Others charge a special cleaning fee.
If you're staying at a campground, ask beforehand if it allows dogs. Many sites within state and national parks don't allow pets.
Remember to pack items of importance to your dog: treats, a few favorite toys and his blanket or dog bed. Along with his bowls, pack his regular food and some bottled water to keep his digestive system in sync.
Your dog's vaccinations should be current, and take the records with you. Administer flea, tick and heartworm treatments as appropriate and pack any other needed medications.
Compile a list of veterinary hospitals along your route. Writing down their phone numbers saves valuable time in case of an emergency.
Pack a recent color picture of your dog and know his height and weight. It will be useful to authorities if he gets lost.
Use a sturdy leash and collar with tags that give his name, your name and phone number. Make sure he's also wearing his rabies vaccination tag. Some owners microchip their dog for identification purposes, but having the information on collar tags facilitates a quick return to you.
If your dog is afraid of loud noises, such as fireworks or thunder, keep him secure in his crate or on a leash. Even dogs who normally aren't frightened may become scared in unfamiliar surroundings.
Before pulling out of the driveway, take your dog for walk. Along the way, stop every few hours for exercise and bathroom breaks. Make sure to clean up afterward.
A crate or carrier is the safest way for your dog to travel. Put a soft blanket, a favorite toy or two and water in it. If there's not space for a crate in the car, use a pet restraining harness. It acts like a seat belt for him. Be aware of which side the sun is on, so the dog doesn't become overheated.
Have water available in the car for him. If the dog is prone to car sicknesses, it's best if he travels on an empty stomach.
While your dog may like to stick his head out of an open car window, don't let him. Eye injuries can result. And never let your dog ride in an open truck bed, as it can cause severe injuries or death.
Never leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle. During warm weather, rising interior temperatures and lack of air circulation can cause life-threatening conditions in a just a few minutes. Have a family member stay with the dog if you must leave the car without him.
Before letting the dog out of the car, put him on a leash for his safety and that of others. Once you arrive at your destination, observe all rules and regulations regarding pets.
Keep your dog as quiet as possible and don't leave him unattended in a hotel room. Many dogs naturally are uneasy in a strange place. Keeping your dog in a crate can prevent him from getting into trouble, while giving him a sense of security. It also can help prevent incessant barking or property destruction.
At campgrounds, be aware of the dangers that could harm your dog, such as poisonous plants or encounters with wildlife. Secure him safely to keep him from wandering off, but never leave him unattended and defenseless outdoors.