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Road Trip With Your Dog: Everything You Should Know

There is nothing quite like traveling the open road, and bringing your dog along makes it that much more exciting. Here, our White Hall vets share 11 tips for going on a long-distance road trip with your dog and talk about how boarding may suit dogs who prefer staying home.

Taking Cross-Country Road Trips With Your Dog

Traveling with your dog(s) in the car for long-distance adventures can be exciting! Unfortunately, it could also become a complete disaster with improper execution or planning.

That being said, if your dog is well-socialized, confident with new experiences, and loves car rides, a well-planned road trip could be the highlight of their life. Our vets at Hunter's Animal Hospital are here to give you 11 tips that can make your trip as enjoyable as possible for both you and your pooch.

11 Tips For Traveling With Dogs In A Car Long Distance

There are so many things to consider when planning a trip with your canine companion. Here is an easy list for owners to follow to help make their trip go as smoothly as possible for both you and your pup.

    1. Pick a Route That is Dog Friendly

    Your dog will need to stretch their legs and have potty breaks so make sure the route you take has plenty of safe places to stop, such as rest stops. How often to stop on a road trip with your dog will depend on many factors including age, size, and health. Very young and very old dogs will have to stop more frequently, along with those with medical conditions. Smaller dogs will also need to take more potty breaks as their bladders are so small.

    2. Go on a Test Drive (Really!)

    Even if your dog is excellent in the car for routine trips, a long road trip may still be challenging for them. Make sure to take some longer practice trips so they become comfortable with spending a long time in the car before you embark on a cross-country road trip with your dog.

    3. Plan Your Pup's Meals Accordingly

    Feed your pet a light meal three to four hours before you leave. While you're on the road, always stop when your dog needs food. Don't feed them in a moving vehicle to help avoid pet car sickness. 

    4. Never Leave Your Dog Unattended

    Never leave your dog alone in a parked car. It is a safety concern at temperatures higher than 70°F or lower than 35°F. However, passersby may decide to break your window to free your dog if they think they are trapped inside at any temperature. 

    5. Be Sure to Pack All Essential Items

    Packing your dog's food and water, treats, medicine, toys, feeding bowls, poop bags, extra leashes, first aid kit, stain and odor removers, and other supplies will help keep you out of stores so you have more time for adventures. Make sure to include your pet's health records, including recent immunizations.

    6. Don't Forget Pet Identification

    While your pet must be microchipped in case they go missing, it is also important to have dog tags on their collar with at least your name and current phone number for easy identification.

    7. Protect Your Dog & Your Car

    Keep your pet restrained during the ride. It isn't safe if they are hopping around the car while you're driving. Harnesses and car-safe crates will provide your dog with optimal protection during the journey.

    8. Give Your Dog Lots of Exercise & Playtime Beforehand

    A tired dog is often a well-behaved dog, so right before you leave for your trip, take your pet for a long run or a visit to the dog park. This will help ease travel anxiety and allow them to relax in the car.

    9. Find Ways to Entertain Your Dog for the Drive

    Give your dog something to distract them from the long car ride. Whether it be a chew toy or a kong filled with peanut butter, your dog will be happy.

    10. Address Any Signs of Anxiety Right Away

    If you notice your dog is stressed or anxious while riding in the car, we suggest using natural stress-reducing remedies. Pressure wraps like a Thundershirt or calming supplements can all help reduce stress in dogs.

    11.  Schedule a Pre-Travel Vet Visit

    Make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel. If your dog has existing health issues, ask if travel may affect them, and make sure your dog’s vaccines and flea and tick prevention are up to date. They can also provide health certificates that may be required. 

    Do you know how often to stop on a road trip with your dog?

    While on a long-distance road trip with your dog, you can expect to stop every three or four hours. During these stops your dog will need to go use the outdoor facilities and have a drink and snack as needed.

    Is It worth it to road trip with my dog?

    Your dog is without a doubt an important member of your family. It is important as pet owners that we realize that their lives can be far more fulfilling and enjoyable if we take them farther than just a walk around the block. If you've put in the work to raise a social, curious dog then it can be very rewarding to see your pup traveling the world and soaking in new experiences. 

    That being said, if you are apprehensive about taking your dog on an extended trip, or you feel that they would not be comfortable in these new situations many reputable boarding facilities will make them feel at home and keep them happy and entertained while you travel.

    What if your dog doesn't like road trips?

    If you have a dog that isn't a fan of being in the car then you may want to consider other options. This can include having a friend or family member stay with them or bringing them to a reputable boarding facility.

    Dog Boarding Services at Hunter's Animal Hospital

    We understand that it can be stressful to leave your pet when you go out of town–especially if they are ill, or when they are recovering from a procedure or surgery. At Hunter's Animal Hospital, we want to help put your mind at ease.

    We provide complete general boarding services for all of our patients, and medical boarding services for pets with conditions standard boarding centers may not be equipped to accommodate.

    If your pet is staying with us, make sure to fill out a Boarding Release Form before their stay.

    Learn More About Dog Boarding

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

    Are you planning a cross-country road trip with your dog? Contact our White Hall vets to schedule an appointment to update their vaccinations and flea and tick prevention.

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    We are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of animals. Get in touch today to book a visit to our White Hall clinic.

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