| Kelsie Shields
With a little more than a month left of summer it’s time to cram in that summer road trip you’ve been planning all year (or week), and of course you can’t forget the four-legged family member when you go on vacation. To help make your travels as successful as possible, we’ve created a packing list for you and your dog, so that you can be ready for whatever the road throws at you.
Before You Head Out
Before you hit the road there are several ends we recommend tying.
Research where you’re headed: Whether you are headed to a family reunion or discovering somewhere new, be sure that there are pet friendly places to take your pup including lodging, local transportation, and places to play.
Prepare your pet: Acclimate your pet to car rides before expecting them to be able to travel long periods of time. Do this by taking short trips and getting them used to the habits of car life. Preparing your pet also means getting them used to their crate and any other type of situation they may have to get acquainted. If your dog does not use their crate often it is a good idea to start putting them in it more before you expect them to use it for your travels.
A trip to the vet’s: Make sure your dog is up to date on shots and is healthy enough for traveling.
Your Pup’s Suitcase
Identification: First and foremost, make sure your dog has proper identification! Get that name tag on with your contact information; micro-chipping is also an excellent way to make sure your pet is safe in the event their collar slips off. Something so simple can have a huge impact in the unfortunate event that your dog goes missing.
The essentials: Enough food for the duration of your trip, safe water that your dog is used to drinking, necessary medications and medical records, a proper harness and lead, a crate to keep your dog safe in and out of the car, and of course baggies for cleaning up after business; all of these items are musts for your next road trip.
Comfort is key: In order to reduce the amount of unneeded stress on your dog when traveling, try to make them as comfortable as possible. Bring things that comfort and create a sense of normalcy to the ride. This may include their blankets, favorite toys, a crate if they are used to one. The smell and presence of these items will reduce the impact of new surroundings and sensory information that comes with them—essentially you will create a safe place for your dog by bringing these items.
What to Have Handy
A medical kit: A medical kit is always a good idea when traveling, especially with pup. Gauze, tweezers, and a list of emergency numbers are all good things to carry.[i] Hydrogen peroxide can also be very useful, not only can it be used to clean wounds but it can also be used to induce vomiting in the case of your dog eating something dangerous such as chocolate or poisonous substances. Be sure to research and talk to your vet about how to properly use hydrogen peroxide.
A cleaning kit: If your dog does become car sick, a few cleaning supplies like cleaning spray and a few paper towels can make the rest of the ride a little more enjoyable.
Rabies vaccination records: it is rare, but some states require rabies vaccination records at certain interstate crossings. Better safe than sorry.[ii]
To Sedate or Not to Sedate
Deciding whether or not to give your dog a sedative can be a tough decision. Luckily there are natural options out there for both dogs that suffer from anxiety and car sickness, and even better yet, there are products that do both. Not to toot our own horn but our customers use our Bedtime Bones to calm anxious dogs AND dogs that don't enjoy car rides. That’s because they contain several herbs that are exceptional at reducing nausea and anxiety: chamomile and lavender.
There are also other products available to help. Many people have had success with thunder shirts or even other herbs such as ginger. To read more on options to reduce car sickness naturally, read our blog, Solving Your Canine’s Motion Sickness.
Try your best to accommodate your dog’s needs during travel. Be aware of what they are telling you. Here is a short list of a few distractions that will make your next trip go by without a hitch.
Limit your dog’s food intake before and during travel: make sure your dog is well fed but not full; try to avoid feeding right before taking off, this will ensure that motion sickness doesn’t play with a full stomach (We’re trying to make sure that cleaning kit goes unused).
Never leave your dog in the car alone: you've heard it before but it needs repeating. Never leave your dog in a car unattended. Cars heat up extremely fast, even when the outdoor air temp is not high. Don’t take the risk. You are bringing your dog because you want to be with them, so don’t leave them in the car alone while you have all the fun!
Take lots of breaks: Make sure your dog remains well exercised and has enough bathroom breaks to make it through the trip.
Give your dog something to do: Car rides can be boring for everyone, give your dog a toy that will keep them entertained while moving along the road.
Now Get Ready to Hit the Road
Now that we’ve covered the bases your next trip with pup should be a little less stressful. Visit our Woof About Blog to learn more about how to deal with anxiety, motion sickness, and different natural products to help your dogs through it all.
[i] Groves, C. (2016, February 11). 15 Essential Road Trip Tips That Will Give Your Dog The Adventure Of a Lifetime. Retrieved July 25, 2019, from https://barkpost.com/travel/road-trip-tips-happy-dog/
[ii] Car Travel with Pets:10 Tips for Safety and Security. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2019, from https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/10_tips_for_safe_car_travel_with_your_pet