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How to Prepare for the Ultimate Dog-Friendly Road Trip

Posted by Justin Ramb

Summertime means it's also time for road trips. You and your family, including your furry family members, can enjoy many excellent adventures. At the same time, ensuring the best experience when traveling with a pet requires some additional preparation. 

How to Prepare for Road Trips With a Dog 

Our helpful guide to road trips with dogs will help you and your entire family enjoy your experience and make lifelong memories. 

Practice makes perfect 

Acclimate yourself and your pet to car rides together by taking shorter trips around town. Take your pet to a local dog park or on dog-friendly errands. Notice your dog's signals that it's time for a drink of water or a walk outside to answer nature's call. Understanding how your pet communicates will prove invaluable on longer trips. 

Make sure your pet has frequent access to fresh water, though you might want to wait for feeding much solid food until you return home or can take a longer break. Some dogs get a little car sick, especially if they're not used to traveling in vehicles. This car-training period might also offer a great time to invest in a dog-friendly water bottle and collapsible bowls. Of course, you won't want to skimp on small treats to reward excellent behavior. 

Compare seatbelts and car seats for dogs 

Almost all states have laws that require humans to use seatbelts. Just because regulations may not require non-human passengers to wear seatbelts, it's still prudent. Restraints help protect dogs in case of accidents or sudden stops and keep frisky pets from distracting drivers. 

The AKC reviewed several dog seatbelts, generally called harnesses, to help pet owners start shopping for these essential pieces of safety equipment. Some manufacturers also offer car seats for dogs. These can provide a good investment because they help dogs ride more comfortably and can also protect seats from messy accidents. 

Plan for puppy playtime and pottying

Dogs need to answer nature's call about every four to six hours. Younger or older pets might require more frequent stops. By the time pets need to pee, it's probably time for four- and two-footed passengers to enjoy a chance to stretch their legs anyway. Research pet-friendly parks or rest stops along the route, and plan ways for everybody to wear off some excess energy. 

Plan for accommodation along the way 

Many affordable motel or hotel chains accept pets, but some don't. Some places charge substantial pet fees, but others do not charge anything for domestic animals, though they may charge for damage. Apps like TripAdvisor can search for pet-friendly motels, but it might take more research to find out about the fee policy. 

Some travelers may find it necessary to bring along a puppy pad just in case their well-trained dog's behavior changes in an unfamiliar setting. Good guests will also bring poop bags to keep the property clean and hygienic for everybody. 

Don't let Rover stick his head out the window 

If pet owners want to indulge their dogs by letting them stick their head out of the window, limit it to slow trips around familiar neighborhoods. Otherwise, the activity may prove risky because of other traffic, dust and grit from the road, and flying insects. Keep dog's noses and children's arms safely inside the vehicle with the windows closed. 

Don't forget the dog's first aid kit 

Wise drivers will stash a car's first aid kit if they need bandages, antiseptic, or pain relievers for themselves or their passengers. They might also pack drinks, snacks, an easy-to-access change of clothes, and medication for long drives for themselves and their two-legged companions. 

Before a long trip, call or visit the vet to ensure up-to-date shots, records, and prescription refills. Some suggestions for a dog first aid kit might include: 

  • An extra leash and collar 
  • Puppy pads 
  • Extra water, food, and dog-accessible dishes or bottles 
  • Anti-nausea medication and medical records 

Road trips offer plenty of chances to bond with dogs and experience adventures together. At the same time, unfamiliar places and routines can stress pets and expose them to new allergens or germs. It's a good idea to bring along some extra assurance. Multi-Plus Chews from Moe's Healthy Pets help ensure essential nutrition and support a dog's immune system.

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