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- If you’re gearing up for a road trip with your dog, you’ll need some things to keep them safe, comfortable, and loving life on the road and off.
- The safest way for your dog to travel is in a crash-tested crate or harness that attaches to a seat belt in the back seat.
- Protect your dog from overheating or suffering heatstroke on the road with regular breaks, plenty of hydration, and additional gear like a crate fan and window shades.
With changes to how we travel, Americans across the country are hitting the road with dogs as their co-pilots. Whether your plan is to hike and camp, to explore back roads and under-the-radar towns, or visit family and friends, the promise of an adventure on the open road is intoxicating not just for you but for your dog, too.
As a professional dog trainer by day and travel writer by night, I have years of experience hitting the road with dogs. I’ve combed through my own gear to come up with a list of 15 essential items for a canine-friendly road trip. For expertise on traveling safely with a dog in the hot summer months, I’ve consulted with Dr. Tanya Fraser, VMD, medical director of VCA Allendale Animal Hospital in Allendale, Michigan, and Lindsey Wolko, founder of the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Virginia.
To assure the success of a road trip with your pup, you’ll need a handful of items to keep them safe and comfortable during long drives. Dogs also need regular breaks from the road, just like we do. “Stopping every few hours to get out, move around, and use the bathroom is ideal,” said Fraser.
All that driving also increases the possibility that your dog may, at some point, experience some car sickness. Most dogs outgrow motion sickness in puppyhood, according to Fraser, but if your dog is prone to nausea in the car, things like withholding food for a few hours before traveling or letting your dog see out the window can help. Roll down the window for additional airflow but not so low that your dog can thrust their head into the wind. That’s very dangerous. “You know the sound your windshield makes when a rock hits it? Imagine your dog being hit by that rock. Ouch!” Wolko said.
Before you embark on your trip, Fraser recommends making sure your pet is up-to-date on their vaccines and parasite control. Consult your vet if you have questions. They can also provide you with anti-nausea medication if your dog frequently experiences motion sickness.