Here’s everything you need to keep your pet happy on the road.
Who wants to go for a ride? DOGS. Road trips are clearly the winner when it comes to pet travel.
There are lots of chances for your pet to explore, sniff new stuff, maybe mark some territory three states away, and even experience things for the first time, which is magical.
But when it’s time to pack, don’t forget to grab a suitcase for your pet. They’re going to need everything on the road that they need at home since you’ll want to keep their routine as stable as possible (that includes trying to keep them on their usual food and sleep schedule too). That’s why we’ve put everything you’ll need together in one place, with our top travel picks and this packing guide.
MAKE ROOM IN YOUR SUITCASE FOR:
- SEATBELT HARNESS
Swing by one of our stores and we can help fit your dog properly for a seatbelt harness, which should always be used in the backseat (where dogs are safest). Plus, a harness does double duty for extra control on walks in new environments. Also, consider a bench seat cover to prevent muddy paws and maybe some drool from ruining your upholstery.
- DOCUMENTATION OF YOUR PET’S VACCINATION RECORDS
Make sure they’re up-to-date and take a photo to document, as well as one of their rabies tag or license. You may be asked for this info at some destinations, so it’s good to have it handy.
- DOG FOOD/TREATS/CHEWS THAT DON’T NEED REFRIGERATION.
Leave the frozen raw pet food at home. Pack freeze-dried food or dehydrated food for an on-the-go alternative with very similar nutrients. Rehydrate with stomach-soothing bone broth for added nutrients and flavor. Kibble is also very portable, and you can add extra moisture to keep them hydrated. Skip canned food unless it’s single serving. Trying something new? Serve it up before the trip to let your pet’s stomach get used to it.
- WATER AND FOOD BOWLS
Stackable ones take up less space in your bag, plus foldable or collapsible ones are good for hikes or walks. You’ll also want to bring some water for the road, to keep your dog hydrated and help with carsickness. Pack some bottled water or bottles of water from home—water from new places can actually cause stomach upset. Don’t forget to pull over every 2-3 hours—pee breaks are as important as H20.
- COLLARS AND LEASHES
It’s always a good idea to have an extra collar and leash handy just in case one breaks. Collars should be on at all times, and your pet should never go outside on vacay without a leash. Check their ID tag to make sure it has your current cell phone number on it, and if your dog is micro-chipped, check that the registry is up-to-date as well. Not microchipped yet? Do it before the trip.
- POOP BAGS
And lots of them. After all, bags are definitely not something you want to run out of on the road.
- CALMING PRODUCTS
Being in an unfamiliar place is enough to make anyone anxious, including your pet. Use a calming product to help them relax. Try one with CBD or other soothing herbs. If you are trying one for the first time, give it a go before your trip, to make sure you’ve found one that works for them.
You only need 2-3 toy options, but make sure you have something for the car (like a “silent” squeaky toy they can squeak without driving you crazy), something active to play with outside (maybe a ball or a toy to toss), and something to keep them occupied during downtime (try an interactive toy or brain game).
- BEDDING FROM HOME
Nighttime in a new place can be hard. You’ll all sleep easier if your dog or cat has a bed, blanket or pillow that smells familiar to curl up on.
- FIRST AID KIT
Be prepared. Make sure your kit is stocked with a pet first aid guide, sting relief pads, tweezers, tape, antiseptic, gauze pads, and scissors.
- COOLING GEAR
A cooling jacket or vest can keep your pet comfortable in hot weather, but don’t forget to take precautions. Sidewalks can also be blazing, so do the 7 second test—put your hand firmly on the ground and if it is uncomfortable in any way, it’s too hot. The temperature in a car can rise more than 30 degrees within ten minutes, so never leave your dog in one alone, even with a cracked window. Heat stroke can be deadly, especially for short-nosed breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers as well as ones who are elderly, overweight, or those with heart or lung disease.
- DOG GOGGLES
Obviously, nothing makes a canine feel freer than hanging his head out the window, but please don’t let them do it without dog goggles. After all, the debris that’s hitting your windshield is also hitting your dog’s face, and that can be dangerous.
- DOG LIFE JACKET
If you’re heading anywhere with a body of water, don’t just assume they can doggie paddle. Some pets really can’t swim, or just might get tired and need a life jacket for extra help.
- FLEA AND TICK PROTECTION
Can’t bring your pet along for the ride?
Print our customizable Things My Human Knows manual to share instructions with their caregiver.