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dog friendly road trip guide

Car Travel With Dogs: The Ultimate Dog Friendly Road Trip Guide

By <a>{authorName}</a> on {date} in Guides, Travel

With the nicer weather approaching, spring fever is in the air. Your dog has likely been cooped up with you all winter waiting for the winter freeze to start thawing. It is time to gas up the car, roll down the windows and go for a road trip! If you want this to be an […]

With the nicer weather approaching, spring fever is in the air. Your dog has likely been cooped up with you all winter waiting for the winter freeze to start thawing. It is time to gas up the car, roll down the windows and go for a road trip! If you want this to be an epic adventure with your best furry friend, follow this ultimate dog friendly road trip guide. If you plan this trip properly, there will be no reason to turn back!

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Travel Preparation –  Car Travel With Dogs

If you are tempted to hop in the car and let the wind take you and your dog wherever it wants, think twice. Preparing for a dog friendly road trip is the key to a pleasant trip and a happy dog. If you head out without considering the following things, you and your dog might be home before the fun ever started.

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Medical Records

Perhaps the least exciting part of your road trip will be getting your dog’s medical records in order. Stop by the veterinarian and ask for a few copies, just in case. These are essential in case your dog falls ill while on holiday, or if you need to board your dog for a day or two while you are away. While you are at the vet, make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations.

Emergency Vet Contact Info

Bring the contact info of the 24-hour emergency vet clinic in the town you will be traveling too. Dog's are unpredictable, and if they get sick in the middle of the night, you need to know where to take them.

Get Dog Familiar With Car

Spend a few weeks before your adventure letting your dog adjust to the car. Several short trips in the car should do the trick. Your dog will learn to love the car especially if they associate the car with a trip to the dog park or a doggie play date.

Pet Restraints

Make a plan for how your dog will be kept safe in the car during your road trip. Car travel with dogs can be dangerous with a rambunctious dog that is overly excited for the adventure ahead. Even the calmest dogs can get very hyper when they spend extended periods of time trapped in a car. Vehicle pet barriers, pet seat belts, pet car seats, and pet travel crates are all excellent ways to keep your pet (and you) safe when traveling in your vehicle. This chart by Dr. Foster and Sr. Smith is a great resource for deciding what type of pet restraint is right for your pet.

Take the time to read about Paws to Click. This organization helps raise awareness of the danger of traveling with unrestrained pets and how one click helps protect you and your family. They report that every 18 minutes an accident occurs due to a loose pet in a vehicle.placeholder photoPacking Essentials

Your dog will need their daily necessities such as their leash, collar, toys, medications, special toys, and beds. Bring extra food just in case you run out, or your dog accidentally eats it all during a holiday mishap. Don't assume that your dog's food will be available at your destination, as many brands of dog food are only sold regionally. Changing your dog's food during a holiday is not a good idea as the dog is already going through enough change. Having abundant water and collapsible water bowls will also make car travel with your dog much more pleasant. And don't forget the disposable dog waste bags – aka poopie bags. Have these stashed in a few places in case of an emergency.

Map Your Route

Be extra diligent about knowing the directions to where you are going and plan ahead for bathroom and exercise breaks. Print or write out the directions in case your GPS decides to malfunction, or your phone loses its charge.

Temporary Pet ID Tag

Get a tag made that indicates the local address where you will be staying. Include the local phone number, and your cell phone number in case cell service is choppy. Also, have photos of your dog printed out and on your phone, in case they run off during all the hustle and bustle that a new destination offers.

Book Dog Friendly Accommodations

Before you drive off into the sunset, book a dog friendly hotel or cottage on the way. If your road trip includes many long days riding in the car, you will need a place to sleep at night. Call ahead to reserve your room as many hotels only have a certain amount of room dedicated to pets. Ask for the name of the person you book the room with, just in case there is any confusion when you and your dog check into the hotel.

Get a Weather Report

Weather is something to consider when traveling in the car with your dog. Pack extra towels in the car to dry off a wet dog at bathroom breaks, in the case of rain. Purchasing a waterproof seat liner will be useful in rainy conditions and will protect your seats. If cool weather predicted, a doggie sweater might be necessary to keep your pet comfortable. If you are traveling to a sunny destination, a new outfit is a must. This Sunshine Chevron Dog Dress, from Spoiled Sweet Pets, is perfect for the warmer months ahead.

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Exercise Your Dog

Help your dog burn off extra energy before the long car trip ahead. A log game of fetch or a nice run together around town will do wonders to help your dog settle into his crate, car seat or seat belt.

On the Road – Car Travel With Dogs

It's time to pump up the music and hit the open road! After you gas up your car and get your human and pet snacks organized the following tips are important to remember:

No Head Out The Window

Although tempting and adorable in photos, this is a bad idea. Flying debris can easily injure your dog. Also, NEVER travel with a pet in the back of a pickup truck. Some areas now have laws restricting such transport. It is always dangerous and should be avoided at all cost.

Never Leave Your Dog Alone

A pet in a car is never a good idea. Temperatures in cars ride quickly. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “a study performed by the Louisiana Office of Public Health, found that the temperatures in a dark sedan as well as a light gray minivan parked on a hot, but partly cloudy day, exceeded 125oF within 20 minutes.” This is proof enough that leaving your pet in the car can easily lead to illness and even death. Cracking the windows makes little difference,

Also, leaving your pet in the car gives an open invitation for thieves to steal your precious pooch.

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Limit Food Intake

Resist the temptation to pass your dog back some of your road trip food. Dogs should only eat small amounts of their regular food during travel as some dogs become anxious while in a car. An upset belly is not the way to have a dog friendly road trip.

Proper Hydration

When you stop for bathroom breaks offer water or ice cubes to your dog, so they don't become dehydrated. Small amounts of water will also ease an upset belly if your dog is anxious while traveling. Some people bring plastic jugs of water from home as water in new towns and cities sometimes upsets their dog’s tummy. This is a good tip to take into consideration if your dog has a sensitive stomach.

Take Frequent Bathroom Breaks

Dogs should not travel longer than 4 hours in the car without water and exercise. Research the roads you will be on and find towns that have dog parks for your breaks. Many rest areas along highways now have small dogs park, which is super convenient when planning a dog friendly road trip.

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Open The Windows

If the weather is beautiful, your dog will appreciate some fresh air. Open the windows as often as possible and enjoy the benefits that fresh air has to offer you and your dog.

When You Arrive At Your Destination – Car Travel With Dogs


Congratulations. You have arrived safely at your destination. Car travel with your dog isn’t so bad after all, is it? The first thing to do is give your dog a great walk. Play some fetch, give him some treats and reward him for the excellent job he did traveling in the car.


Try to maintain your regular routine when you arrive at your destination. Walk and feed your dog at the same time each day. Routine is especially important to dogs and will help the both of you adjust quicker.

If you are ready to hit the road with your dog in the next few weeks, please SHARE The Ultimate Dog Friendly Road Trip Guide with your friends and family!

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