Long car rides can be challenging even without a dog to consider, but when you're taking your canine companion on a road trip, you'll need to prepare ahead of time. Some dogs are better travelers than others, which will impact what you need, as will the length of your trip.
But what does your dog need for long car rides? Once you know what essentials you'll require, you can concentrate on other ways to make sure you and your dog have a smooth journey.
Before you decide what to pack, it's good to get general advice about traveling with your pup. The more you know, the less stressful it will be for all involved.
If your canine companion isn't used to riding in the car or doesn't travel well, prepare ahead of time if you can. Gradually work your way up from 10-minute trips around the block to longer car rides of an hour or two. This will acclimate them so they'll cope better with traveling all day.
On the day of your trip, take your dog for a long walk before you head on your trip. Even if this means getting up earlier than you'd care to, a dog that's been worn out by running and playing is more likely to tap a nap in the car and travel calmly.
Don't give your dog a huge breakfast before a long car journey as it may cause them to feel travel sick or even vomit. Depending on the length of your trip and their usual eating schedule, you may need to give them another small meal in the middle of the day. Otherwise, wait until you've reached your destination or the place you're stopping for the night before feeding them a hearty dinner.
Stop for bathroom breaks every three to four hours for adult dogs or every one to two hours for puppies. Don't forget to pack a decent supply of poop bags. During these breaks, you can also give your dog water and let them stretch their legs for 10-15 minutes.
Never travel with your dog on somebody's lap — it just isn't safe. Your dog should either have their own seat that they're securely buckled into or a travel crate in back of the car or in a footwell.
If you're making a multi-day trip, plan your route carefully to find pet-friendly motels or hotels to stay in. If you'll be stopping in at restaurants or diners for meals, ideally these should be pet-friendly too.
If your dog is crate trained, a travel crate or kennel is a good choice for safe car travel. A hard-sided option will offer your pet some protection in the event of a collision and many dogs feel calm when in their crate. However, if your dog isn't crate trained or doesn't tolerate being crated well, never attempt to put them in a kennel for a long car ride.
A harness is a better choice than a kennel for dogs who aren't crate trained or for pet guardians who'd like to see and check in on their dogs more easily during road trips. This harness is crash tested and meets or exceeds U.S., European and Australian safety standards. It's extremely strong and easy to adjust to get a good fit. You just need to thread the car seat belt through the handles on the top of the harness and secure it, so you don't need any extra equipment.
This travel water bowl acts as both a bowl and a container for storing water. It holds 3 quarts of water, which will keep most dogs hydrated all day. It has a spill-proof design, so you don't need to worry about making a mess if you let your dog drink inside the car.
Sold by Amazon
You'll need to bring a bowl and a supply of your dog's usual food to give them meals on the road. Even if you don't stop for lunch, you might be staying overnight on a multi-day trip and your pup will need a bowl when you reach your destination anyway. This inexpensive bowl is a great choice if you don't want to risk bringing their regular bowl from home and losing it on your trip. There are small, medium and large sizes available.
If your dog isn't the best traveler, try this calming aromatherapy spray. It contains a blend of calming essential oils, including lavender and chamomile. It works extremely well for some dogs but not for others, so it's worth trying out before your journey. You can spray it on their body, a blanket or even the car seat they're sitting on and it's easy to top up as you go.
Looking for something slightly stronger to calm your dog on the road? This CBD oil for pets might help. It has natural calming and anti-anxiety properties, so it's great for dogs who get nervous in the car. Plus, it's made from nothing by natural ingredients and doesn't contain levels of THC that would make your dog feel woozy or high.
Sold by Cornbread CBD
Plush toys can be comforting travel companions for dogs who like to cuddle up with them rather than rip them to shreds. This is an extra-durable plushie, so it can take some mouthing and chewing, but it isn't car ride safe if your dog destroys toys.
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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.