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Road Trip With Your Dog: Everything You Should Know

Taking your dog on a trip with you is always a fun experience for you and your pet, but taking them on the road can be stressful if you're not prepared. In this blog post, our Milledgeville vets share some advice on how to make a road trip with your dog run as smoothly as possible.

Taking a Road Trip With a Dog

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.

Depending on your dog’s temperament and comfortability traveling in a car, the idea of taking a long-distance road trip with your pup can go a couple of ways. You may be full of excitement for your adventure together, or you may begin to panic and feel quite stressed out. Either way, don't worry. We are here to help give you some tips to help your journey be enjoyable for you and your pet.

Tips for Taking Your Dog on a Road Trip

There are so many things that can factor in when traveling with dogs in a car for long distances. The advice below should help make sure you and your pup have a relaxing and enjoyable trip.

Check-in With Your Vet

The first step for you as a dog owner is to ensure your companion is in good enough health to travel with a simple routine exam. If your dog has any existing health issues, ask your vet if they are well enough to travel, or if traveling will have any impact on their health. Also, make sure your dog’s vaccines and flea and tick prevention are up to date.

Depending on where you are traveling to, your dog may require health certificates which can be provided by your veterinarian. 

Create a Pet-Friendly Route

Ensure you plan enough stops along the way for your dog to stretch their legs and have bathroom breaks. Parks and rest stops make excellent, safe places for you to stop. Many factors including the age, size, and health of the pooch will dictate how often to stop on a road trip with a dog.

Puppies and senior dogs will likely require more frequent stops, along with dogs with medical conditions. Smaller dogs will also need to take more potty breaks as their bladders are so small.

Make Some Practice Runs

Even if your dog is fine for routine car rides, a long road trip may still be a bit of a challenge. Plan some longer practice trips to help them become more comfortable with extended trips in the car before you embark on a cross-country road trip with your dog.

Plan Meals Accordingly

Feed your dog a light meal three to four hours before your departure. While traveling, always stop when feeding your dog. Feeding your dog in a moving car can increase their chances of car sickness or even choking. 

Pack the Essentials

Be sure to pack your dog's food and water, treats, medicine, toys, feeding bowls, poop bags, extra leashes, first aid kit, stain and odor removers, and any other supplies you think you may need. This should help keep you out of stores so you have more time for adventures and ensure your pup has everything they need.

Make sure to include your pet's health records, including recent immunizations, just in case you are traveling somewhere that may require this information.

Pet Identification Is a Must

It is always best to have your dog microchipped in case they go missing at any point along your trip. Also, make sure your dog has tags on their collar with at least your name and current phone number for easy identification.

Protect Your Dog & Your Car

Keep your pet restrained during the ride. If they are hopping around the car while you're driving, they can not only injure themselves but distract the driver which can result in an accident. There are a variety of products available from harnesses and hammocks, to car-safe crates.

Wear Them Out Ahead of Time

Right before you leave for your trip, take your pet for a long run or a visit to the dog park to tire them out a bit. After all, a tired dog is typically a well-behaved dog. This will help ease travel anxiety and allow them to relax in the car.

Provide Entertainment

Preventing your dog from getting bored is a key thing to remember. Your dog will need something to distract them from the long car ride. Whether it be a chew toy or a Kong toy filled with peanut butter, your dog will be happy as long as they are distracted.

Don't Ignore Signs of Anxiety

If you notice your dog is stressed or anxious during your travels, natural stress-reducing remedies can be beneficial. Pressure wraps or calming supplements can all help reduce stress in dogs and are available at just about any pet store.

However, even just stopping to let your dog out of the car to get some fresh air can help reduce their stress before continuing on your journey.

Never Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car

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 regardless of the temperature. 

In Conclusion

Your dog is without a doubt, an important member of your family. Pet owners need to realize that their lives can be far more fulfilling and enjoyable if we take them farther than just a walk around the block. If you've done all you can to raise a social, curious dog, it can be very rewarding allowing them to travel around and encounter new experiences. 

That being said, if you are overwhelmed about taking your dog on a long road trip, or you feel that they would not be comfortable, simply don't take them with you. There are a variety of reputable boarding facilities that will make them feel at home and keep them happy, healthy, 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. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition. 

Want to see if your dog is fit to accompany you on a road trip? Contact our Milledgeville vets to book an examination for your pup. If you aren't sure about traveling with your furry friend, ask us about our boarding services.

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