What to Prepare when Going on a Car Trip with Your Dog

September 28, 2023by Nicole Tengco0

Traveling can be one of life’s most exciting experiences, and bringing your dogalong can make it even more memorable. Although this can be a rewarding experience, it can be a bit of a challenge. It’s like traveling with kids—you always need to stay prepared and plan ahead to ensure that they’re comfortable and safe on the journey.

So, what do you need when going on a car trip with your dog? In this article, we’ll tackle what you need to know and prepare before you take your dog on a fun road trip. Read on to learn more!

Understanding Your Pup’s Needs

Photo by Özgür

Understanding your dog’s needs is a key aspect of planning a trip with them. This includes basic stuff like food and water, but you must also consider other factors like exercise, comfort, and mental stimulation.

When planning a trip, consider how you will keep your pup happy and healthy while on the road. You should pack enough food and water for the whole trip and consider their activity levels and health conditions. 

Does your furry pal have allergies, chronic conditions, or physical limitations? Are they typically anxious during car rides? Do they have a high need for exercise and play? Asking these questions can help you plan ahead and meet your barking buddy’s needs.

If your dog has health conditions requiring medication or specific care, you must ensure you can accommodate those needs throughout the trip. This might involve bringing enough medication, finding pet-friendly accommodations with the necessary facilities, or planning a route that allows for regular stops if your dog can’t sit for long periods.

It’s also crucial to ensure your doggo’s vaccinations are all up-to-date before traveling. Some areas may have diseases that your dog is not vaccinated against, so it’s important to consult with a vet before you go on your trip.

Essential Items to Pack for a Car Trip with Your Dog

Food and Water

Although this should be obvious, it bears emphasis—food and water are among the top things your dog needs. As such, you should always pack enough dog food and water for your pup to last the entire duration of the trip. 

It’s also a good idea to bring more than you think you’ll need in case of an emergency. Also, bring plenty of water and a portable dog bowl. Feeding your dog a few hours before the trip (and not immediately before going) is best to avoid car sickness.

Secure Travel Crate or Harness

Aside from food and water, you’ll also need some things to keep your pup safe. Bring a secure travel crate or a harness designed for car rides. Doing so not only ensures your dog’s safety in case of an accident but also helps minimize distractions while driving. 

The crate should be well-ventilated and large enough for your dog to comfortably sit, lie down, and turn around. Meanwhile, the harness should be sturdy and allow your pup to adjust its position in the car. However, it should not be too loose, as your furry pal may jump around if it gets too excited!

A Comfy Dog Bed or Blanket

Your dog may want to nap or sleep during the car ride. Because of this, it’s a good idea to bring their favorite blanket or a comfortable dog bed that fits in their crate. This is especially helpful if you’re going on a long trip—it’ll bring a sense of warmth and familiarity to an otherwise different environment.

Toys and Treats

Aside from your dog’s physical needs, you must also meet its mental needs. You can keep your furry pal entertained by packing some of their favorite toys during the journey. Chew toys can be especially useful for keeping them occupied. Treats are also a great way to reward good behavior during the trip.

Poop Bags

Sometimes, there’s no telling when dogs need to go potty, so staying prepared is always best. Responsible dog parenthood requires cleaning up after your pup, so pack plenty of poop bags for your trip. Doggy diapers can also help protect against “accidents” in areas where your pup shouldn’t go to the toilet.

Leash and Collar or Harness

Even if your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t typically need a leash, it’s important to bring one along. You never know when you might need to control your dog quickly, especially in unfamiliar environments. A leash will not only allow you to keep your dog safe against potentially dangerous situations, but it’ll also protect people and animals from your (likely) excited pupper.

First-Aid Kit

Sometimes, no matter how safe and well-prepared you are, accidents can happen (knock on wood!). As such, having a first-aid kit specifically designed for dogs can be a lifesaver. It should include items like bandages, tweezers, a digital thermometer, and any medication your dog may need.

Familiar Items

To help keep your dog comfortable when traveling, bring along some familiar items. This could be their favorite toy, blanket, or even a piece of your clothing. By bringing a sense of familiarity to the trip, these items will help them feel more secure.

Updated ID Tags

In case your dog gets lost during your travels, having updated ID tags can help improve your chances of finding them. The tag should include your current contact information.

Other Tips for Your Car Trip with Your Dog

Photo by Yoss Traore

Choose Dog-Friendly Locations

Before you set off on your journey, it’s helpful to research dog-friendly locations. Look for places where your dog can get enough exercise. Also, if you’re planning on staying overnight, make sure your accommodation is pet-friendly.

Plan for Breaks

Dogs need regular breaks to stretch their legs, drink, eat some snacks, and go to the toilet. When planning your route, consider rest stops or parks where your dog can walk or run around. This will also help break the monotony of the journey for your four-legged pal.

Keep the Temperature in Mind

If it’s hot outside, use sunshades on the windows and run the air conditioning. If it’s cold, ensure your dog has a warm blanket to snuggle in.

It’s best to remember that the inside of a car can quickly become too hot or too cold for a dog, so never leave your dog alone in the car for a long period.

Clean Your Car After the Trip

As a pet parent, you should know that messes can happen unexpectedly. Pack some cleaning supplies like wet wipes, paper towels, and a small trash bag for quick clean-ups. Once you’re back home, vacuum the car and wipe down surfaces to ensure it’s clean enough for your next adventure. Disinfecting your car’s interior can also help get rid of unwanted hitchhikers that your pup may have picked up outdoors.

Wrapping Up

Preparing for a car trip with your pup requires careful planning and consideration to ensure their safety, comfort, and enjoyment throughout the journey. Make sure to pack all essentials and follow the tips above to ensure you make great memories with your furry pal without much hassle! 

And remember, it’s vital to make sure your dog is fit for travel, especially when you’re in for a long trip. If you’re looking to have them checked by a vet, PetPal can help. Book an online consultation or schedule a home vet visit today!

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