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Cross Country Road Trips with Dogs

The world is becoming more and more dog friendly, so it can be a fun experience to travel with your dog. Our Boulder County vets are here the share 11 tips for road-tripping with your dog safely.

Should I Take My Dog On A Road Trip?

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 Boulder County vets are here to give you 11 tips to make your trip as enjoyable for both you and your dog as possible.

11 Tips For Traveling With Dogs In A Car Long Distance

When planning a trip with your canine companion, there are numerous factors to consider. 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.

    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 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.

    Take some practice trips

    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 spend a long time in the car.

    Plan meals accordingly

    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.

    Never leave them in the car alone

    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 the essentials

    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.

    Pet Identification is a must

    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.

    Protect your dog and your car

    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.

    Wear them out ahead of time

    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.

    Provide entertainment

    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.

    Don't ignore 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.

    Check-in with your vet

    Check 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.

    How To Stay Safe in All Types of Travel

    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.

    Travel 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.

    Travel 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.

    Travel 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 It worth it to road trip with my dog?

    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 there are several reputable boarding facilities that 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. 

    If you are planning a trip with your dog, contact our Boulder County vets to schedule an appointment to update their vaccinations and flea and tick prevention and to make sure your pooch is in good shape for the trip.

    New Patients Welcome

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

    Contact Us

    (720) 214-0270