If your dog loves car rides, a road trip will be a dream come true. There’s nothing quite like taking to the open road with your four-legged adventure buddy. Here’s what you need to know when planning your trip:
Buckle Up For Road Safety
It’s illegal and dangerous to drive with an unrestrained dog in your vehicle. Putting your dog in a carrier or seatbelt harness only adds a few extra minutes to your trip and it can save your life. Restraining your dog can also prevent carsickness by keeping them from sliding all around the vehicle.
Line your dog’s carrier or the car seat with soft, absorbent towels or blankets that can keep them comfy. You may need to clean or replace them if your dog vomits or has an accident.
Dogs love taking in all of the new smells coming in through the window while you drive. You can leave it open, but take care so that your dog is not able to jump out.
Meeting Your Dog’s Needs
You should give your dog plenty of opportunities to drink fresh water. Offer them a drink at least every two hours. You may want to delay or skip a meal to lessen their need for potty breaks and to prevent vomiting. Puppies and toy breeds should at least eat small meals because they may get low blood sugar if they skip meals. Carefully consider whether you should feed special road trip snacks, such as a bite of your burger or whipped cream from your frappuccino. If your dog has a strong stomach, go for it, but you may not want to risk a case of indigestion or diarrhea.
Ideally, your dog will be able to relax, even fall asleep in the back seat. Try going for a brisk run during bathroom breaks to tire your dog out – it’s also good for your own circulation after hours of sitting.
Bring extra flea and tick protection, such as a natural repellent that you can use in addition to your usual treatment. Also bring along extra medications, and keep your vet’s phone number on hand in case of an emergency. You may also want to locate and vet’s offices and emergency vet clinics along the way.
Plan To Visit Dog-Friendly Locations
Many pubs, breweries, beaches, restaurant patios and shops welcome dogs, and may even offer water bowls and treats to four-legged visitors. See if you can have your road trip during Be Dog Friendly Week (18 – 22 July), during which many businesses trial dog-friendly policies.
You may be surprised to find that some locations are not dog-friendly. Many national parks and nature reserves forbid dogs to protect fragile wildlife native to the parks.
Wherever you are allowed to go with your dog, keep them on a leash and clean up after them. Do not stay if your dog shows excessive anxiety or any level of aggressive behaviour. Being a responsible dog owner will help ensure that dog-friendly places can continue to be welcoming.
Should You Ever Leave Your Dog Alone In The Car?
If you’re travelling alone with your dog, you’re very likely to go somewhere that is not dog-friendly. Leaving your dog in the car leaves them vulnerable to heatstroke and theft. However, there are some safety measures you can take to mitigate risk if you must leave your dog alone.
When you need to take a toilet break, your best option is to visit a pet supply store so you can bring your dog inside the restroom with you. You may also be able to bring your dog inside a park restroom. Some shopping malls and shops may allow dogs, or could make an exception to allow you to quickly use their restroom if you ask nicely.
Depending on your car’s make and model, you may have the option of running the AC with your car locked. You should not rely on this for more than a few minutes, as your AC could fail without warning. Also be aware that, even if your dog not in danger, a well-meaning, concerned dog lover may call the police or break into your vehicle to “rescue” your dog.
Remember, it only takes ten minutes for the temperature inside your car to rise by 10 degrees Celsius. After 30 minutes, your car can be more than 19 degrees Celsius hotter inside than the outside temperature. You can use a Cool Dog Ventilation Lock to slow the heating of your vehicle and promote airflow, but it won’t have much effect if the air flowing through your car is still very hot. Never leave your dog in a car alone when it’s more than 20 degrees Celsius outside – not even for a minute.
Most hotels allow dogs for an additional pet fee, but some have restrictions on size or breed. Always call ahead to make sure your dog will be welcome to stay with you. If you cannot find a dog-friendly hotel on your route, try an AirBNB, they’re often more affordable and may even have a yard for your dog to play in.
Packing List: What To Bring In Your Dog’s Road Trip Kit
- Food and water bowls
- Food and treats that your dog normally eats
- Plenty of poop bags
- Bed and blankets
- Flea and tick protection
- Car carrier or seatbelt harness
- Lead, optional: extra leads
- Up-to-date collar tags
- Vet’s phone number, prescriptions
- Coat, boots