Preparing your dog for a long road trip - a checklist
It’s always fun to take your dog on a road trip, but make sure you follow this checklist before starting. On any type of travel, remember that preparation is essential, but even more so with a pet. Using a checklist will make your trip goes smoother – and ultimately will be more fun for both you and your furry companion.
Visit your dog's vet
Visit your dog’s vet before your trip for a health checkup and assessment to prepare your dog for the road trip. If your dog has just recovered from an illness, they might need special arrangements such as medication or toys when travelling. Your vet can also prescribe medication if your dog gets car sick. While it can be easy to skip a trip to the vet, there is nothing worse than having a medical problem while you’re on the road!
Do test runs beforehand
Get your dog used to car travel with a few trips. Start with short trips, see how your dog does, and gradually increase the length of the trips. This way, you can better monitor your dog and spot potential issues. For example, does your dog get carsick fast? Is your dog anxious? How soon before he needs to relieve himself? Does he have a tendency to try to jump into the front seat? Knowing all of this will help you prepare better for longer road trips and make it less stressful for both parties.
Don’t forget dog essentials
Carry all of your dog’s essentials such as a dog bowl, food, water, leash, car-sickness bags, treats, medication, blankets, toys and most importantly a collar with a name tag. If you’re camping, be sure to carry a dog bed and a crate that’s large enough. If it’s just you and your dog on the road, consider getting a seat belt harness just in case of an accident.
Apart from the regular checks that you do for every road trip, you might want to make adjustments to your car to make it dog-friendly. Install sunshades if it's summer and open the windows to ensure cool air flow. You can get a slipcover for the seats to protect them from fur and scratches.
Feed your dogs before the road trip
Make sure the dog is fed at least four hours before travelling, but avoid giving your dog a heavy meal. Prepare your dog for the road trip by taking him on a walk just before you get in the car. This will allow your dog to stretch their legs and relieve themselves and make your dog more relaxed overall during the journey.
Keep your dog calm
You might like to listen to Metallica on the road but that doesn’t mean your dog will dig it. Keep your dog calm by playing soothing music or by giving him a chew toy to work on during the drive. If you have a passenger, ask him or her to give your dog some love by gently patting your dog as often as possible. Also, try to maintain an even speed through the trip as dogs are prone to motion sickness and can be disturbed by high speed and sudden jerks.
Plan regular pit stops
Plan your route and stop well in advance to minimize confusion on the road. If it’s a long trip, look up pet-friendly hotels or favourable spots such as a large park or trail. In case you’re sleeping in the car, look up safe spots to spend the night. It might also be helpful to make a list of animal clinics and medical stores along the route, just incase.
Remember to stop every two to three hours and let your dog out to relieve himself and give him water. When you stop for mealtimes, feed your dog healthy but light and wait for enough time before you get back on the road. Always keep your dog on leash if you’re stopping on highways and never leave your dog alone in the car for extended periods of time.
You want this trip to be as fun for your dog as it is for you. Remember, you can’t be as flexible with your dog companion as you can be with a human one.
There is so much you can see and do together and it can bring you close together. In addition, travelling with your dog create wonderful memories that last a lifetime. Remember, always take tons of photos!
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