Hitting the road with your dog adds a bit more planning to your trip, but when done right, the quality time spent with your furry companion is well worth it.
Whether you're an old pro at pet travel or this will be your first trip with your dog, it's always a good idea to brush up on pet travel tips. This way, you can ensure you and your dog have the best time possible on your adventure.
To help you bring along your best friend on your next road trip, we've put together this list of helpful tips for traveling with dogs. Along with our own dog travel experience, we also caught up with dog photographer Molly Dombroski to get the expert advice she's learned from traveling around the country with her two pups, Summit and Mylo.
These are the 5 best tips to make sure you get the most out of your dog-filled travel.
1. Air Conditioning is a Must
The golden rule of pet travel is never leave pets in a hot car and this is especially important when you're on a road trip. Especially in warm temperatures, a car can heat up to dangerous conditions in just a few minutes. So when it's hot out, you never want to leave your pup in the car — even if the windows are cracked.
If you do plan to travel with your dog in the summer, make sure to check the weather and be on the lookout for swimming holes for your pooch to cool off in. Molly books a hotel room once the weather gets too hot for her dogs to handle.
Alternatively, you could opt to rent a van or RV with air conditioning or fans that run separately from the car. This way, you can keep those running overnight or when you're not driving. Outdoorsy offers RV, camper van, and trailer rentals so you can browse different options and find a pet-friendly van with AC. Whether you go with a Sprinter or a Vintage Volkswagen, you can drive straight to your destination and wake up with picturesque views.
2. Keep Your Dog Entertained with Toys and Mental Stimulation
Spending long hours in the car can get boring for anyone, and your dog is no different. To help your dogs from getting antsy on long road trips, pack lots of fun toys, chews, and bones to keep them entertained on the journey.
"For me,” says Molly, “this usually means I pack some Benebones and good chews for the dogs. The dogs absolutely love these and will keep at it for hours on end.”
3. Keep Your Pet Safe in a Kennel
Ideally, you won't get in an accident, but sometimes the unexpected happens. In that situation, the worst thing for your pets is for them to be loose in the car. Airbags, loose gear, and other vehicles are hazards for your dog in an accident.
To keep your dog safe just in case, it's a good idea to have an impact-resistant kennel for Fido. One option we recommend is the G1 Kennel from Gunner Kennels which is crash tested to keep your animal safe. Plus, you can deck the inside out with comfy bedding so it becomes a safe spot (both physically and mentally) for your dog in the car.
4. Bring Food and Treats
Just like you need your road trip snacks, so does your dog! Since dog food can take up quite a bit of space in a car, Molly tries to pack just enough for her dogs to make it from one stop to the next to save space. "Treats can also take up a lot of space so I pack these into plastic baggies and try to get as much air out of those bags as possible," she said.
Molly also recommends using dog food travel bags from WilderDog or Ruffwear to keep the food fresh and make food storage on the road easy. Once you have these different bags of food, organize everything into one duffle or other type of back so you can keep track of everything.
5. Fill up their Bowl
Make sure you bring plenty of water for your dog and a dog bowl so you can give your pup water when they need it on the road. Hydration on the road is important to keep your dogs healthy and happy in the car (even if it means a few more pee breaks). If your dog is panting, that's a good sign to get them some water!
Molly always has a water bottle for her pups and keeps a collapsible dog bowl in the front at all times for quick hydration. Just be careful not to let your dog drink too much too quickly, as this can lead to throwing up. Seriously, the last thing you want is dog vomit in your vehicle!
Now that you know some of the basics for road travel with pets, it's time to go have some fun! Grab the dog toys, dog food, water, carrier/crate, and RexSpecs and go have some adventures with your dog. (And tag us on Instagram from the road!)
Words by Johanna Flashman