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Tips for Traveling With Your Dog

Summer is right around the corner, and that means vacation time for most people! If you’re planning on bringing Fido on a road trip this summer, make sure you’re prepared for whatever might come your way so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest! We’ve compiled our top tips for road-tripping with your dog so your time in the car can be as stress-free as possible. Read on to learn more!

Bring vaccination records and any other important health documents

Whenever you’re planning on traveling a ways away from home or spending the night somewhere, it’s a good idea to bring any important health records (including vaccination records) with you, especially if your dog has any medical issues or health concerns. Some hotels require vaccination records to allow a pet to stay the night. If you find yourself needing to give your dog a bath on the road, some grooming spots also require proof of vaccines. In the unfortunate case that you find your pet needing medical treatment, having your pup’s records readily available can help expedite treatment.

Make sure your pet’s ID tag and microchip are updated

If your pet somehow escapes and gets loose during your travels, it’s critical that all of their information is up to date and accessible so they can be returned to you safely. Make sure that their ID tag is correct, has all of the correct information on it, and is securely fastened to their collar. Make sure the collar stays on your pet at all times while traveling! Making sure your pet’s microchip information is up to date and accurate is also important to do before traveling, in case your pet’s collar comes off or isn’t on. If you don’t know your pet’s microchip information, you can ask your vet to help you find it and contact the registration company to ensure all information is correct. It’s also a good idea to write this number down and keep it in the folder with your pet’s vaccination records.

Make frequent stops

Especially for dogs who don’t have a ton of experience traveling, taking frequent breaks is super helpful for helping them keep their cool. When mapping out your travel itinerary, make sure you include enough time for regular stops along the way. Let your pup out to use the bathroom, stretch their legs, and sniff around for a bit. It’s good for you too! Make sure your pup is always on a leash and out of the way of traffic and cars. You can even do some research before you set off to see if there’s a rest stop along the way that has a designated doggy relief area or dog park!

Pack an essential bag  

One of the most valuable things you can bring with you on your travels is a well-packed essentials bag (emphasis on the “well-packed!). No matter rain, sun, or mess (we know it happens!), having these essentials with you when you travel will help you get through whatever your trip throws at you.

Food and Water

When packing your essentials bag, make sure you bring a few days worth of extra food with you and drinkable water. In case plans change or your trip gets extended, you want to make sure you have enough of your pet’s food to cover a change of plans without having to scramble and find the nearest pet store. Keeping water in your bag at all times is important, especially in case of emergency. If you happen to get stuck roadside or in an unknown location, you want to make sure you have enough water to keep your pup hydrated until you can get to your destination.
We love Messy Mutt’s Travel Water Bottle for our road trips because you can pop the silicone bowl down and fill it with water whenever your pup needs a quick drink. Plus, any unused water drains back into the bottle for easy cleanup. 

Clean-Up Supplies

Some of the worst doggy messes happen on the road (we’re pretty sure it’s science). Whether it’s an upset tummy or a water spill, you want to make sure you can clean up messes in the car quickly and efficiently. A roll of paper towels, pet mess cleaner, pet wipes, hand wipes, and hand sanitizer should have you covered. We also love Earth Rated’s poop bags because they’re 100% leak-proof and extra strong so messes stay contained. Don’t forget a few trash bags to put the waste in and then deposit in the nearest trash can. Keep these things near the top of your bag so you’re ready for action in case the worst happens. 

Familiar Items

Traveling can be a stressful time for your four-legged companion. Bringing an item from home that is familiar and has a familiar smell may bring them a sense of comfort. Maybe it’s their favourite plush toy, a blanket, or a bed! Anything that reminds them of the comfort of home and their usual routine should do the trick. If they’re feeling stressed out or anxious in the car, you can pull this item out to give them some relief and help ground them. You can check out our recommended calming aids

First Aid Kit

Arguably one of the most important items in your essentials bag, a well-stocked first aid kit can mean the difference between disaster and managed crisis. You can build your own first aid kit or buy a premade one from a retailer. While having a first aid kit is great, we highly recommend going one step further and taking a first aid class to learn how to properly use the items in your bag so that you’re prepared if an emergency ever does strike. Canine-Health Canada offers first aid courses for dogs in every province in Canada (and you can take them online). You can learn more on their website here (they’ll also help you build your first aid kit). It could mean the difference between life and death for your dog.


One of the most important things to remember to bring on your trip is any medications your dog might need while you’re gone. This includes any daily medications as well as pre/probiotics, joint supplements, and any flea/tick or heartworm prevention medications. If you know your dog gets anxious when you travel, it’s a good idea to bring some calming supplements as well. We recommend Open Farm’s Calming Supplement, which is formulated with Valerian Root, L-Theanine, and  L-Tryptophan for calming and relaxation. Give to your pet 30 minutes before hopping in the car to allow for best results. You can check it out in our shop here.

Purchase Proper Restraints 

Restraining your dog properly in the car is one of the most important things you can do to keep them safe during a road trip. If your dog isn’t properly secured, they run the risk of becoming a projectile object, which could injure or kill them and other people. A crash tested harness and seatbelt or crate securely tethered are the two best options for keeping your dog safe in the car. If you aren’t able to get a safety-rated harness before your trip, you can use a seatbelt tether to attach to a regular harness (or collar, if you have to). We love the KONG Travel Swivel Teather because it allows your pup to adjust their position comfortably while still remaining safe and secure. Some restraint is always better than none, but it’s worth it to invest in a crash-tested harness or kennel so you can keep your dog and your passengers safe. Whatever you do, never put your dog in the front seat - the impact of an airbag can kill a dog immediately. 

Pack Some Fun For the Road!

Road trips don’t have to be stressful! Before you leave, stuff and fill a KONG with some high-value treats or some of your pet’s favourite safe foods. Stick them in the freezer for a day and pull it out when you’re ready to hit the road. If one frozen KONG isn’t enough, you can even stuff and freeze multiple KONGs by bringing them in a cooler to stay frozen while you drive. If you’re having trouble thinking about what to fill your KONG with, check out KONG’s Cuisine page which has tons of recipes to get your creative juices flowing. You can also bring along tasty chew toys like Earth Animal’s No Hide Strips, which are made from air-dried proteins and are easily digestible and free of harmful chemicals. Having something to focus their energy on will help relieve stress and keep their brains busy while you travel safely to their destination.

Keep the Routine the Same

One of the best ways to keep travel stress at a minimum is to keep all your pet’s routines as consistent as possible. If your dog usually goes for a walk at 7AM and gets breakfast at 8AM at home, walk your dog at 7AM and feed your dog breakfast at 8AM while you’re away. Having a schedule and set consistency will help them feel less anxious while they’re in a strange place full of new people and experiences. 

Wherever you go on your summer travels, your pup’s safety and comfort are always a priority. Being prepared is the best way to tackle road trips with ease! Where will you drive to next?!

Until next time,

Oaklee with no background

🐾 Woofs & Wags
- Melissa & Oaklee 🐾

Cute golden retriever puppy sitting on a beach

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