15 Dog Travel Must-Haves and Tips for Stress-Free Traveling
Any dog lover knows that a vacation is just not the same if your dogs can't join in on the fun! We are huge fans of bringing the dogs along whenever possible. Although it requires a bit of extra preparation, after many years and dozens of road trips, we like to think that we have become quite proficient at it!
1. Lid Locking Container
Naturally, you will be bringing dog food along on your road trip. We recommend packing it in a lid-locking container instead of keeping it in the standard food bag to prevent accidental spills or tears. Depending on where you will be staying, these are also great for containing smells and not attracting unwanted animals!
2. Measuring Cup
Just because you may be lax with the calorie counting on vacation doesn't mean that you should do the same for your pets! Consistency is key to maintaining a healthy weight, and it is very important to measure your dog's meals. We use a collapsible measuring cup to save space!
3. Collapsible Water Bowl
You must remember to keep your dog hydrated on a long road trip. Set a reminder on your phone to make regular stops and provide fresh water. We recommend you bring along a collapsible water bowl for convenience and because it saves precious space in the car!
4. Waste Bags
When you gotta go, you gotta go, right? You will likely be visiting rest stops, parks or even an open patch of grass to let the dogs do their business. Cleaning up after your dog is not only courteous but also good for the environment. We like to use compostable dog poop bags and keep them in a convenient carrying dispenser.
5. Insect Repellent Wipes
In addition to ensuring your dog is current on all their flea and tick medications, pest repellent wipes can provide an extra layer of protection when visiting new places. We use an all-natural option that takes advantage of the natural pest repellent properties of lemongrass, sesame and castor oils.
6. First Aid Kit
Most people don’t have a first aid kit for themselves, let alone their pets. When you’re on the road, however, you never know what will happen, and your local vet won’t be accessible. It’s wise to put together a first aid kit before your trip to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Your kit should include:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Vet wraps
- Space blanket
- Cornstarch (to staunch bleeding)
- Plastic card (to scrape stingers out of skin)
- First aid booklet for pets
- Emergency phone number list (vet, 24-hour animal hospital and animal poison control)
On a similar note, you should ensure that you’ve packed your pet's medications and supplements. Try packing them up in a pillbox, so you have each day portioned out ahead of time. If you are traveling for longer than a week, bring labeled baggies of extra pills so you can refill your pillbox once it’s empty. Your medication pillbox should include:
- Prescription medications
- Car sickness or anxiety chewables
- Supplements for general health
- Allergy meds
- Flea and tick meds (if your pup’s next dose takes place during your travels)
8. Extended Leash
When visiting unfamiliar places, it is particularly important to keep your dog leashed. We like to pack a 30-foot training leash to give the dogs a little room to explore whenever possible. These leashes also function great as a tie-out if you are stopping for a picnic or resting on a hike.
9. Up-To-Date Tags
Before you leave home, make sure you have your pet's tags. If they ever wander too far or get lost, you’d want their collar to contain your pet’s name and your current contact information.
10. Reflective Gear
You will likely be doing at least a portion of the driving at night. Packing reflective gear for you and your dog is a great idea to ensure you are visible when making pit stops or taking potty breaks along the way.
11. Vet Records
In the event of an emergency, you don’t want any obstacles in the way of your pet’s care and rapid treatment. Have any necessary records on hand (this includes vaccination records). This isn’t just helpful for emergencies; you’ll also find yourself needing these documents if you simply want to take your dog to the groomers.
Most pet stores and grooming salons require vaccination records for an appointment. If your pet needs a bath, nail trim or a full-blown spa day during your travels, you’ll be glad to have their immunization records.
12. Towels and Grooming Supplies
Let’s face it; our dogs need frequent attention to keep their skin, coats and paws healthy. Pack up the following supplies to make sure your pet has what they need:
- Undercoat remover
- Nose balm (especially if your destination is a cold or dry environment)
- Paw moisturizer (again, great for cold or dry environments)
13. Dog Energy Bars
Things can get a bit hectic on a road trip, so it is a great idea to have bars or snacks on hand to provide sustaining energy. Make sure to keep in mind your dog's regular eating schedule, and if you are unable to feed at that time, supplement as needed.
These snacks are also great to use as an energy booster during long hikes. Be aware of your dog's daily activity level when determining whether or not you should omit these calories from their next meal.
15. Taste of Home
Last but not least, pack a small bag with some of your dog's favorite things. Pick things that bring comfort to your dog and ease any stress or anxiety they may experience while traveling. We like to bring some of our dog’s favorite toys and a blanket!
Road Trips With Dogs: Tips and Tricks
Once your essentials are packed, it’s time to hit the road. But, if you’ve never taken a road trip with your pet, you’ll need to know a few things before you leave. Here are some tips for long road trips with dogs and some dog road trip accessories you may find helpful along the way.
Tip 1: Don’t Let Your Dog Roam Freely
It is dangerous to allow your dog to roam around the car as you drive. For the safety of both your pup and everyone else in the vehicle, it is important to restrain your dog when the vehicle is in motion.
If you plan on using a dog seat cover, make sure it has seat belt openings so you can use a pet seat belt.
Tip 2: Give Them Some Entertainment
If your dog is bored, there is a much higher chance of misbehaving. Give them something to do to keep boredom at bay. A Kong toy filled with their favorite treat or a food puzzle should keep them entertained for hours.
Tip 3: Play White Noise
New environments come with many sounds and smells that can overstimulate our pets. Drown out some of that noise pollution with white noise. You can either invest in a white noise machine or play soundtracks from a white noise playlist on YouTube or Spotify.
Tip 4: Be Consistent
As fun as a road trip can be for you, it might be stressful for your pup. Because you are changing your routine, it is more difficult for your dog to predict when they will be eating, going to the bathroom and sleeping, which can cause a lot of anxiety.
Try your best to stick to your basic schedule as you hit the road. Feed and walk your dog as close as you can to the time you usually do, and this will help reestablish some of the routines your pup expects and enjoys.
Prepare for Travel With 4Knines
Traveling with dogs does not have to be stressful! Knowing what to bring along and a bit of preparation can make the experience enjoyable for you and your pets! If you and your dog like to lead adventurous lives, consider investing in a car seat cover or cargo liner.
Review our guide on how to choose the right dog car seat cover or how to pick the best dog cargo liner to find the perfect fit for your unique situation.
For more helpful blogs, check out our car safety tips so you can ensure your pet travels safely.