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Cross Country Road Trip With Your Dog: Everything You Should Know

The world is becoming more accessible to dogs, leading to more owners taking their pets on trips with them. However, knowing how to keep your pup comfortable during a cross-country road trip can be difficult. In this blog post, our Redding vets share 11 tips for safely road-tripping with your dog.

Should I Take My Dog On A Road Trip?

Taking a road trip with your dog can be fun and exciting, especially when you consider all the new sights and places your pup will experience! However, hours of traveling in a car can become very stressful for both you and your dog if not executed properly.

A well-socialized dog who loves adventure is sure to relish the trip. If your dog tends to be more of a couch potato, they may enjoy accompanying you for the relaxing drive and being with their human!

Either way, knowing the best practices to keep your dog entertained, healthy, and relaxed during a road trip is crucial.

11 Tips For Traveling With Dogs In A Car Long Distance

Our experts at Dana Park Veterinary Hospital have shared the following 11 tips to safely road trip with your pup!

    1. Plan a pet-friendly route

    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 you stop on a road trip with your dog depends on age, size, and health. Very young and very old dogs, along with those with some types of medical conditions, will have to stop more frequently. Smaller dogs will also need to take more potty breaks as their bladders are so small.

    2. Make consistent stops

    Before hitting the road, familiarize yourself with how frequently you should stop during a road trip with your dog. According to most vets, an average dog should take a break from a car ride every 2 to 4 hours.

    These breaks should last a minimum of 15 minutes, though longer breaks are preferable.

    Various factors, including your dog's age or susceptibility to car sickness, may influence the required breaks. If you're uncertain, seek advice from your veterinarian regarding the appropriate number of breaks for your pup during the journey.

    3. Plan 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. Please don't feed them in a moving vehicle to help avoid pet car sickness. 

    4. Never leave them in the car alone

    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. Pack the essentials

    Make sure to pack your dog's food, water, treats, medicine, toys, feeding bowls, poop bags, extra leashes, first aid kit, stain and odor removers, and other supplies. This preparation will help you avoid frequent store trips, giving you more time for adventures. Also, don't forget to include your pet's health records, including recent immunizations.

    6. Pet Identification is a must

    Ensure your pet has a microchip in case they go missing, but also, attach dog tags to their collar with at least your name and current phone number for easy identification.

    7. Protect your dog and your car

    Please restrain your pet during the ride to ensure safety. Pets hopping around the car while you're driving can be dangerous. Consider using products such as harnesses, hammocks, or car-safe crates to keep your pet secure.

    8. Wear them out ahead of time

    Before your trip, ensure your pet is well-exercised by taking them for a long run or a visit to the dog park. This will alleviate travel anxiety and promote relaxation in the car, as a tired dog is often well-behaved.

    9. Provide entertainment

    Your dog may not always appreciate the radio as much as you do. In addition to opening windows and providing pleasant views, consider bringing a chew toy or a treat that requires prolonged chewing, such as a dog-safe bone or dental chew, for your dog to enjoy.

    10. Don't ignore signs of anxiety

    Even if your dog is not typically anxious, you should anticipate possible discomfort or anxiety in order to counteract it. Pressure wraps like a Thundershirt or calming supplements for dogs are good things to have on hand. You can use them if you're in the car and notice your dog pacing in the backseat, whining, pawing, vomiting, or excessively scratching, as these are all signs of anxiety. 

    11. Check in with your vet

    Make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel. If your dog is in their senior years or has any existing health conditions, ask your vet if travel is safe for them and make sure their vaccines and flea and tick prevention are up to date.

    Is It Worth It To Road Trip With My Dog?

    Your dog's life can be more fulfilling and healthy if you take them further than the block around the house. Social, curious dogs benefit from seeing more of the world and soaking in new experiences.

    That being said, it's normal for owners to feel apprehensive about taking their pup with them on a long trip for the first time, especially in the car. If you follow the above tips and consult your vet for any special conditions your dog may have, you should be able to have a safe, fun trip with your furry friend!

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition. 

    If you plan to travel with your dog, contact our Redding vets to update their vaccinations and receive flea and tick prevention for a safe trip!

    New Patients Welcome

    Dana Park Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Redding companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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