You’re itching to get on the road for the next exciting new adventure, but is your domesticated BFF ready? Maybe you’ve been preparing yourself for quite a while, you know, notifying family and friends, gassing up the car, checking your car insurance policy, loading your Starbucks card…. What have you done to prepare Fido or Big Dog for the journey ahead? There are many things you can do, before, during and after your trip, to help make the road trip experience just as much fun for your pet as it is for you.
No matter where you are going or how long you will be gone, make sure your pet is wearing a collar and tag with your name and phone number on it. Even better, make sure Max or Tigger has been micro-chipped and all the information on it is current. If your pet is on medication, make sure you take extra in case you get delayed. Program your phone for quick access to your pet’s vet, and for emergency veterinary services that you will pass on your route. Speaking of phones, there are now some great apps available to help you find pet friendly hotels, restaurants, and dog parks while you’re on the road. Dog Park Finder, DogFriendly and BringFido are just a few that are worth checking into.
Having your pet securely restrained is the only way to keep your pet safe in an accident. It also helps prevent you becoming distracted while driving. Purchase a traveling crate that is large enough for your pet to sit, stand and turn around in. It’s a good idea to get him used to the crate before traveling to make sure the crate has a positive influence, not “oh no were going to the vet again”! Try taking short drives to get everyone used to being in the car and in the crate, and gradually extend the time periods of each trip. Then when you head out for the long haul, everyone is comfortable and relaxed. Have tie downs to secure the crate in case of quick stops or turns. Having your pet crate trained before you leave is optimal. Another benefit is that they also work well for hotel rooms or even camp sites, providing a safe, comfortable place for your pet to sleep.
Gather together all your pets’ luggage in a convenient bag or box that you can get to easily and quickly while on the road. Here’s a list to help you get started:
- Food and food bowl
- Water, water bottle and bowl
- Leash and toys for chewing and fetching
- Protective clothing
- Dog-safe insect repellent and sunscreen
- Blanket and dog towel
- Brush and shampoo
- Flea comb and tick remover
- Poop bags
Try to keep your pets feeding schedule the same routine as it has been in the past, but you may have to alter it depending on your departure time. A light meal three to four hours before leaving is optimal. To prevent both of you from going stir crazy, remember to go on a brisk, energy releasing walk before loading up. Another great tip, freeze a small dish of water the night before your leave, that way it won’t spill and will melt by the time you take your first break.
On The Road
Plan to take a break about every 4 hours, for 15 to 30 minutes each time. The trip will be even more enjoyable if you can plan your stops at a dog park or other pet friendly locations you’ve found using the previously mentioned apps.
If you decide to forgo the crate, don’t allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window, and always keep him in the back seat in a harness attached to a seat buckle. Never drive with a loose pet in the car as they could be severely injured if you have to slam on the breaks or make any kind of evasive driving maneuvers.
Pay attention to the temperature and maintain good air flow in your vehicle so your pet does not get too hot or too cold. Remember that animals have a very keen sense of hearing so keep the sound level of any music you play low.
Have fun! Now that you are fully prepared, relax and enjoy the open road with your favorite animal friend. If you are really an animal enthusiast, check out these tips for hiking and camping, or get really nerdy and read 10 Brain Games To Play With Your Dog.