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Road Trip With Your Dog: Everything You Should Know

Having the opportunity to explore the world with your furry friend can be quite rewarding. It is, however, important to properly prepare to ensure that your travels are stress-free. Our Kingman vets share some tips to make a cross-country road trip with your dog successful and enjoyable for both of you.

Cross Country Road Trips With Dogs

The idea of taking a trip with your dog is something that many pet owners know can either be a joyous experience filled with adventure for you and your canine companion, but could also become a complete disaster with improper execution or planning.

However, if your dog is well-socialized, comfortable with new experiences, and enjoys car rides, a well-planned road trip could be the highlight of their life. Our Kingman vets are here to give you 11 tips to make your trip as enjoyable for both you and your dog as possible.

Tips for Successful Road Trips With Dogs

While traveling with your dog can be exciting, there are also several factors that you should consider to make it safe and successful. Here is a simple checklist for owners to follow to ensure that their trip goes as smoothly as possible for both you and your dog.

    Choose a Route That Allows For Stops

    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 some types of medical conditions. Smaller dogs will also need to take more potty breaks as their bladders are so small.

    Bring Your Dog on a Practice Road Trip

    Even if your dog is great in the car on short trips, a long road trip may be difficult for them. Before embarking on a cross-country road trip with your dog, make sure to take some longer practice trips to get them used to spending a long time in the car.

    Be Sure to Bring Enough Food

    Feed a light meal to your pet three to four hours before you leave. Stop whenever your dog needs food while you're driving. To avoid pet car sickness, avoid feeding them in a moving vehicle.

    Don't Leave Your Dog in the Car Alone - Ever

    Never leave your dog in a parked car alone. It is a safety concern at temperatures above 70°F and below 35°F. Passers-by, on the other hand, may decide to break your window to free your dog if they believe they are trapped inside at any temperature.

    Pack Every Essential Items You May Need

    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 you spend less time shopping and more time exploring. Include your pet's medical records, including recent immunizations.

    Always Bring Proper Identification For Your Pup

    While your pet must be microchipped in case they go missing, it is also critical that they wear dog tags with your name and current phone number for easy identification.

    Take Steps to Ensure Car Safety

    Keep your pet restrained during the ride. It isn't safe if they are hopping around the car while you're driving. There are products available from harnesses and hammocks to car-safe crates.

    Tire Them Out With Lots of Exercise

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

    Keep Them Entertained While Traveling

    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.

    Watch For The Common Signs of Anxiety

    We recommend using natural stress-relieving remedies if you notice your dog is stressed or anxious while riding in the car. Pressure wraps, such as the Thundershirt, and calming supplements can all help dogs cope with stress.

    Schedule a Vet Visit Before Your Road Trip

    You should schedule an examination to ensure that your dog is in good enough health 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 any necessary health certificates.

    Other Ways to Travel With Your Dog

    While traveling by car is probably the easiest, there are other methods of travel that you can choose from and it is important to know how to travel with your dog safely in these instances too.

    Traveling by Plane

    Animals with short nasal passages, such as bulldogs and pugs, are at risk when flying with dogs. They are more likely to have breathing difficulties and succumb to heat stroke quickly. If you must fly with your dog, inquire about their ability to travel in the cabin with you. This may be an option for smaller pets depending on the airline's rules, but it will necessitate planning. Don't put it off until the last minute.

    You will also need to visit your vet and get a health certificate that is dated no more than 10 days before your trip. Check with the airline to make sure you have the right type of carrier.

    Traveling by Train

    Amtrak trains only allow dogs weighing less than 25 pounds, so traveling with a dog may be out of the question. Pets are permitted on smaller train companies and many European railways. Check with the train company to ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation.

    Traveling by Boat

    Pets are permitted on some cruise lines, but usually only on ocean crossings. Check to see if your pet will be permitted to accompany you in your cabin, as some ships confine pets to onboard kennels.

    Is traveling with dogs in the car for a long distance worth it?

    Your dog is unquestionably an important member of your family. As pet owners, we must recognize that taking our pets on a walk around the block can make their lives far more fulfilling and enjoyable. If you've worked hard to raise a social, curious dog, seeing your pup travel the world and soak in new experiences can be extremely rewarding.

    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 several reputable boarding facilities will make them feel at home and keep them happy and entertained while you travel. 

    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. 

    Is your dog experiencing pain after their spaying or neutering surgery? Contact our Kingman vets to schedule a checkup for your pup.

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    Cerbat Cliffs Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Kingman companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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