With kids out of school and long, sunny days, summer is a great time for family vacations. Of course, pets are just as much a part of the family as anyone else—so why not include our four-legged family members in the travel plans?
While traveling with pets can be fun, it can also be stressful if you’re not adequately prepared. Read on for some expert tips to make traveling with your dog fun and enjoyable for everyone involved!
Tip #1: Do Your Research
A successful trip starts long before you actually hit the road. If you’re bringing along a furry friend, you’ll have to do some extra planning to make sure your dog is safe, comfortable, and welcome at each stop along the way.
If you’re booking a hotel or private home rental, for example, check that dogs are allowed. Additionally, check that there are no breed and size restrictions that would cause you to be turned away—that’s the last thing you want after a long day of travel!
You’ll also want to research vets in the area so that you’re prepared in the event of a pet health emergency.
Depending on where you’re going, you may also want to research additional things, such as whether it’s safe for you and your pup to drink the tap water.
Tip #2: Visit the Vet
Before you set off on your adventure, take Fido to the vet for a check-up. Inform the vet of your travel plans, ensuring that your dog is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations.
The vet will be able to tell you whether your pup is in sufficient physical and mental shape for travel. They will also be able to recommend any medications or supplements that can help with car sickness, travel-related anxiety, and more.
Tip #3: Secure Your Dog Safely
You may have visions of your dog roaming freely in the car, hanging his head out the window, or sitting in a passenger’s lap, but we strongly advise that you secure your dog safely instead.
By safely restraining your dog while you drive, you’ll be minimizing distractions and giving yourself the peace of mind that your pup won’t be able to escape out the door or window while you’re out on the open road.
Safe options for securing your dog include:
- Dog seat belt
- Dog car seat
- Back seat hammock
- Travel crate
- Pet barrier
The right choice for your dog can depend on a few factors, such as his size and temperament, and the amount of space you have in your car.
Tip #4: Go on Practice Trips
Whether your dog loves or hates the car, it’s important to go on several practice rides to get him used to the feeling of being in the car. If he’s not used to being restrained, it’s also a good way to help him get used to the process for smoother transitions.
Take Fido for car rides in varying lengths in the days, weeks, and even months leading up to your trip. Go for quick rides around the block and longer rides to a favorite hiking spot so that he’s used to the unpredictability of the drive.
Use toys and treats to your advantage, too—positive association is key!
Tip #5: ID Your Dog
Chances are, Fido already wears a collar with a name tag on a regular basis. When you’re traveling, though, this is extra important.
Check that the contact information on his ID tag is visible and up-to-date; it’s also a good idea to have him microchipped as an extra precaution.
Tip #6: Pack Your Dog’s Essentials
No one wants to have to pull over or spend time at a rest stop digging through suitcases trying to find an essential item. Instead, prepare a travel pack for your dog so you have all of his necessities on hand.
Your dog’s travel pack should include:
- Collapsible food and water bowls
- Familiar food (aka the same food he eats every day)
- Leash and harness
- Poop bags
- Favorite toys (and maybe a favorite sock that smells like home)
- Medications and supplements
- Health records
It’s also a good idea to have a pet first aid kit on hand. We recommend having two—one in the car at all times, and one at home.
Tip #7: Modify Your Dog’s Meals
Avoid carsickness by having Fido travel on an empty stomach. Depending on your travel times, take away food the night before you leave, or skip breakfast the morning of your trip.
When it is time to eat, feed your dog in small portions at rest stops. Never feed him in a moving vehicle, as this could make him nauseous.
While you’re modifying his meal schedule, it’s important that you give him the same food he eats every day. Travel is not the time to try out a new diet!
Tip #8: Take Plenty of Breaks
Plan to make stops every 2-3 hours while traveling with your dog. When visiting high-traffic rest stops, try to park far away from other cars and people and near a grassy area, keeping your dog secured on his leash at all times.
In addition to meals, water, using the bathroom, and exercising, those rest stops are also a great chance for you and your pup to spend some quality time together after being separated in the car.
Tip #9: Wear Out Your Dog
As the adage goes, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Before you get back into the car for a long stretch of driving, make sure your dog has had plenty of opportunities to exercise and get rid of any pent-up energy (and, of course, do his business).
While you’re driving, keep your dog busy with interactive toys. Chew toys and dog puzzles can come in especially handy.
For dogs who get anxious while traveling, try PetHonesty’s Hemp Calming Fresh Sticks to reduce anxiety and hyperactivity while also promoting dental health.
Tip #10: Have Fun!
Of course, we can’t forget the most important tip of all: have fun on your trip! Take lots of photos, try new activities, and make lots of precious memories on your pet-friendly summer vacation.