“Wanna go for a ride?” Most dogs love to hear those five little words (unless they fear it’s a trip to the groomer or the vet). However, driving cross country with your best friend is a lot different than taking a Sunday afternoon drive. It requires preparation and planning to be sure both you and your pooch are comfortable. Here are five things you should do to prepare for a cross country road trip with your dog, along with 12 essential items to pack.
Schedule a Vet Wellness Visit
You want to be sure your dog is in good health before taking to the road. So, schedule a wellness check-up with your veterinarian. Your vet can make sure they’re up to date with all vaccinations and medications, and can discuss treatment for nausea (while most dogs do fine on short trips, longer trips can test their tummies).
Map Out Your Trip
While you may like the idea of an unplanned adventure, bringing along your buddy requires planning for multiple pit stops and knowing what hotels have pet-friendly accommodations (there’s nothing worse than being dog-tired – and being turned away because of your dog!). You may also want to pinpoint some emergency vets (just in case) and some pet stores (for restocking) along your route.
Create a Doggy Safe Space
You may think it’s cute having your pup ride shotgun, or even in your lap, but this can be very dangerous and is even illegal in some states, it also gets old really quick on a long road trip. Instead, give them their own space in the backseat (you can even purchase a divider to be sure they stay back there), or if they're anxious and prone to wandering in the car, you can crate them in a comfortable kennel that allows for plenty of air circulation and visibility so they know you’re never far.
Consider a Driving Harness
There are many dog harnesses designed for driving with your dog on the market, but you should know that not all are created equally. The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) website lists three crash test-certified harnesses, and by clicking on each you can view a successful crash demonstration using a “crash-test doggie.” They also provide a list of CPS certification requirements and the certification logo to look for on approved products.
Pack in Advance – 12 Essential Items for Pet-Friendly Travel
Don’t pack for your pet the morning you hit the road – you’re bound to forget something. Instead, get everything together a day or two beforehand. That will give you time to remember things you may have forgotten. Here are 12 essential items to pack for your road trip with your dog.
1. Dog Crate
Even if you don’t intend to crate your dog in the car, some hotels, even those that offer pet-friendly travel, require you to have a crate.
2. Dog Bed
Preferably this bed will be one from home that your dog is already familiar with to offer comfort on the road. Also, pack their favorite blanket for security and warmth.
If your dog takes any medications regularly, or your vet has given you an anti-nausea solution, remember to bring them with you.
4. Food, Bottled Water, and Treats
This may seem obvious, but our list wouldn’t be complete without it.
5. Food and Water Bowls
Another no-brainer, however, you may want to consider collapsible travel bowls like this Ruffwear Quencher to save room and to make eating on the go more convenient.
6. Toys and Chews
You’ll have your eyes on the road to keep you busy and can use the radio for entertainment; your dog, however, is likely to get bored, especially since their normal walking routine will be out of whack. Give them an outlet with toys and chews to give them something to do during the journey.
7. Bad Weather Gear
You never know what type of weather you’ll encounter when driving across the country, so always be prepared. You may want to pack a doggy rain slicker or sweater, along with towels to dry your pup (and clean his paws).
8. Grooming Supplies
Don’t neglect your pet’s grooming regimen just because you’re on an adventure. Also, you may need to brush out some knots if you get caught in a downpour.
9. Cleaning Supplies
If your dog gets car sick or has an accident due to nerves, you’ll want some cleaner and paper towels (and perhaps a deodorizer).
10. Puppy Pads
Your buddy may no longer be a puppy, but puppy pads can offer relief during overnight stays when your dog is off the normal potty schedule.
It’s a good idea to have a copy of your dog’s paperwork (vaccinations, etc). Some hotels require this, and it can also put someone at ease if your dog happens to snap at them at a rest stop, etc.
Sometimes, a dog is so excited to get on the road that they hop in the car on their own – and their owner then forgets the leash!
Are You and Your Dog Ready for the Road?
These are our tips for the best way to travel with a dog. You can also plan to do the same when you’re moving cross country with a dog. One final bit of advice that all responsible pet owners understand: Never leave your dog alone in your vehicle for any length of time. Dogs can overheat quickly when it’s hot out, and the AKC reports that hypothermia can also occur during the cold months.
If you’re planning to go cross country and just don’t think it’s feasible to bring your best friend, you do have another option: My Pet Cab. With a national network of pet transportation professionals, we offer the safest nationwide pet transportation service. My Pet Cab combines specialists in the transportation industry with experts in the pet-handling business to ensure easy pick-ups, safe rides, and timely drop-offs.
We are members of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association, and you can learn more about our services on our website. Otherwise, now that you know how to travel with a dog cross country, happy tails to you!