Traveling With Your Dog – 5 Tips To Ensure A Great Trip

By Amy P

Preparing for a trip can be a very stressful time. Especially when you have decided to take the family dog along. Here are just some of the things to consider before taking that road trip – How long is the trip? What dog items should you bring? What hotels accepts pets? What if your dog has a medical emergency?

So you are planning a vacation and you have decided to take your dog with you. Great idea! However, you have a small problem. You have never taken your dog on a road trip with you before. So, now what? Luckily other people have done this and are willing to share some great tips on how to travel with your dog. I have traveled numerous times with my dog Jake. He’s a pro now! Every dog is different. Some dogs can make a trip pleasurable while some can make it a very bad experience. There are a couple of things that you should consider before you take your dog on a road trip with you.

How long is the trip?

* Is this the first time your pet will be traveling with you on a road trip? Even if you have traveled before with other dogs, all dogs are different. Some can tolerate being in the car for a long time. And others can not.

* Here are some things to help your dog get acclimated to car travel and to avoid motion sickness. Start by taking your dog for short rides, perhaps to the store, then gradually start taking them for longer rides. Usually after a few short trips they should have overcome their motion sickness. If this doesn’t work, I would consider kenneling your dog. It’s not fun traveling with a sick or unhappy dog.

* Are you going to be traveling on windy roads? Some dogs may get car sick. I remember traveling with my dog, Jake, for the first time to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. After about 10 minutes into the windy roads he started to get sick. We had to pull over and let him get some fresh air. With time he got used to the windy roads. We still travel there often with him and he loves it!

Is your pet in good condition to travel?

* Just like when you are traveling, if you don’t feel well enough for it, neither will your dog. I recommend taking your dog to the vet for a check up. This also gives you the chance to make sure that your dog is current on all of his shots. It’s highly recommended to bring along a copy of their records on your trip. Some states may require you to have them with you. Your veterinarian may know which states require health certificates and proof of rabies vaccination. If not, check with the humane society.

* Depending upon where your travels are, other vaccines that you may want to consider are the Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccination and Lyme disease vaccination. If you think that there is a slight chance that your dog may be around other canines, your vet might suggest the Bordetella vaccine. Kennel cough is highly contagious. I would also consider the Lyme vaccination if you are traveling to the northeast where Lyme disease is prominent. Lyme disease is usually transmitted through a tick bite. In areas where Lyme disease is prevalent, I would check your dog for ticks when he comes in from outdoors.

* Even though your dog may not have fleas or ticks now, where you travel they might pick some up. Before you leave for your trip, I highly recommend using Frontline on your dogs to help prevent a flea or tick infestation.

Dog accessories you should take with you

* Dogs have luggage too. Your dog may be anxious and excited about going on a trip. To help ease some of their stress, pack some of their favorite toys and favorite blanket to snuggle up in.

* Bring their dog carrier or crate if they have one. This will make dog travel safe for them and for you. If you were to have to come to a screeching stop, your dog can become an projectile which can result in serious injury or death.

* Make sure to bring plenty of food and water for them. Not all convenience stores are convenient for your pet and they may not carry dog food. Don’t forget your dog’s food and water dish. As Jake would be sure to remind you, dog treats are a must!

* And for the just in cases; You never know when your dog might just get away from you. He will be in a strange place not familiar to him and he might not be able to find his way back to you. Make sure that your dog has his tags on him. One of the tags should have your dog’s name, your name, address, and a phone number. Jake has our cell phone number on it so we are always able to be contacted. You can always have your dog micro-chipped. This is a great option, however, the average person does not have the device to scan it. I would also have their rabies and license tag on your dog as well.

* Also, don’t forget to pack a first aid kit. This brings us to the next tip…

What if your dog has a medical emergency?

* There is always the slight chance that your dog will need some medical attention. Make a list of the animal hospitals for the areas where you will be traveling. I recommend locating the ones that have after-hours. On your list I would either print out directions or even better, a small map. Google Maps is a popular map engine to use for directions.

What if you have to stay over night in a hotel?

* Research the area you will visit or travel through before you leave – even if you are not planning on stopping. Plans can change, forcing you to stay overnight somewhere in a hotel. Not all hotels allow pets in their rooms.

* Make sure to read your hotel’s pet policy. Some may have a size limit. While some hotels do not charge for your pet, others do. Sometimes it’s a one time fee and sometimes they charge per night. DO YOUR RESEARCH!


Planning ahead is the key to a successful road trip with your dog. By planning ahead, you eliminate some of the stresses of traveling. Be prepared, do your research, and make a checklist of things to do before your trip. Happy traveling!

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