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10 Tips For Epic Road Trips With Your Dog

By Juliana Weiss-Roessler

Are you ready to create some great summer vacation memories by hitting the road with your canine best friend? Before you load up and get going, follow these 10 steps to ensure it’s a safe and enjoyable trip for you both.

Contact your vet
If it’s been a while since your dog’s last check-up, now’s the time to take him in. Ensure your dog is up-to-date for vaccinations, and ask if additional vaccinations are required for the trip since your dog may encounter different threats, like Lyme disease, at your destination or along the way.

Also, get a copy of your dog’s medical records and extra meds, just in case your trip is delayed. And take the time to program your phone with contact information, including the address, for a 24/7 emergency dog vet at your destination.

Plan your route
You want to ensure that your schedule accommodates time for regular breaks. For his physical comfort and happiness, your dog needs to have the opportunity to relieve himself but also to walk around and experience the new environment.

Plan to take a 15 to 30 minute break every 4 hours. You can also make very long trips more enjoyable for both of you if you plan stops at locations with pet-friendly attractions, even if it’s just a nice dog park.

Get a weather report
This can help you better prepare for issues like rain that could slow your travel, and also to avoid potential natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Also, take the weather into consideration when packing for your dog. If it’s colder than she’s used to, you may need to pack some clothing for her, too.

Book pet-friendly accommodations
Now that you have your route planned, you need to plan for lodging. Not all hotels accept pets, and even campsites often have restrictions. This may require contacting individual hotels in advance to find out their pet policies, including breed restrictions, rules, and possible fees.

Some very pet-friendly hotel chains, such as Best Western, will post this information on their site.

Arrange for dog care at your destination
If you are attending an event, such as a wedding or graduation, that will take you away from your dog for a period of time while you’re at your destination, you should locate a day care or boarding service. Don’t leave your dog unattended. The unfamiliar environment can cause your dog more anxiety than at home, so you want to ensure he’s being cared for by professionals. If you have friends and family at your destination, ask them for recommendations for dog care.

Crate your dog
With your dog spending hours in the car, it’s more important than ever to consider safety issues. The safest way for dogs to travel in a car is in a safety-certified, crash-tested crate. It will also provide a comfortable, safe, and familiar place for your dog to sleep in at the hotel, motel, or other accommodation.

Pack a bag for your dog
Separating them from your items will make them easier to access when you need them on the ride. Consider all the places you will visit along the way when packing. Items you may need include:

  • Food and food bowl
  • Water, water bottle and bowl
  • LeashToys for chewing and fetching
  • Medications
  • Protective clothing
  • Dog-safe insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Water googles
  • Blanket and dog towe
  • Brush and shampoo
  • Flea comb and tick remover
  • Poop bagsTreats

Update your dog’s ID
If your dog is lost on your trip, you want to find him as quickly as possible. If the number on his tag is your home phone number, this could be very difficult. Take the time to make an ID just for the trip, listing not just your cell phone number but an additional emergency number for a friend or family member in the area.

Prepare your dog for the trip
Many dogs suffer from car sickness, so it’s best to feed your dog a few hours before you get in the car. Before you head out, take a nice, long walk, so she’s ready to rest and relax for the trip.

Maintain your routine
It’s not possible to do everything exactly as you would at home, but the more you remain consistent, the better. Once you reach your destination, feed and walk your dog on the same schedule you would at home. If you can, increase the walk time to help him get rid of the extra excitement and anxiety of the trip.

You’ve taken the time to prepare, so now just kick back, have fun, and enjoy the time together!

Want more travel tips? Check out Cesar’s Best Travel Tips, and share yours with us in the comments.

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