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Road Trip With Your Pup

No need to look into those big, sad eyes the next time you open the front door with your suitcases. Bring your best friend with you. All you need are a few tips to make sure everybody stays safe and happy, and to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Getting Prepared

Schedule a trip to the veterinarian. It might take several appointments before all the paperwork and vaccinations are complete, so plan your vet visit well in advance of your trip. Many hotels will want to see your dog’s vaccination paperwork before letting your furry pooch into one of their rooms. If your dog is on any medications including heartworm, and flea and tick prevention, make sure to get a sufficient supply before you leave. The same goes if he is on a special diet. Before your trip, you should identify the emergency veterinarian clinics closest to your hotel in case there’s a medical issue.

And it’s a good idea to have the following on hand:

  • ice pack
  • towels
  • alcohol wipes
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • gauze pads
  • tweezers
  • adhesive tape
  • bandages
  • styptic powder (helps stop bleeding from minor cuts)
  • disposable gloves
  • saline solution
  • scissors

Some things that are helpful to keep your dog calm are:

  • A favorite soft toy, blanket, or pillow
  • A calming treat that contains ingredients like lavender and chamomile
  • A Thunder Blanket should a storm arise
  • Avoiding feeding your dog unless he’ll be able to relieve himself
    • A small amount of dry food
    • A small collapsible bowl
    • Medications and first aid items
    • Travel documents like a rabies certificate
    • Treats and dental chews
    • Your veterinarian’s contact information

Check the weather and environmental conditions where you’ll be going. Be sure to pack collapsible water bowls, treats, toys, rain jackets, swimming safety vests, or any other items your pet could use.


If you bring your dog in the car, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • He’ll be safer in the backseat of a car and never make him stay in the back of an open pickup truck.
  • Give him plenty of rest stops to allow exercise and elimination. Never permit him to leave the car without a collar, ID tag, and a leash. If he has a microchip, be sure it’s up to date, and rather than only have his license number on his ID tag, add your name and cell phone number.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a car. A quick stop may feel like nothing to you, but heat is a serious hazard. Your car can heat up to over 100 degrees in no time. Even with the windows slightly open, the temperature can reach this in ten minutes. And if you are certain of your timing, a brief holdup can mean you return to a 110-degree car and a dog suffering irreversible organ damage or death.

Before a long road trip, take your dog on short car rides to see how they handle the car. Keep in mind that if the only place your dog goes in the car is to the vet’s office, he will likely be scared. To get him used to and even enjoying the car, take him first around the block, then for a ride to the park or someplace fun, so he begins to associate the car with having fun. Once you are ready for the vacation of a lifetime, pack up the car with the familiar smells of home-like favorite toys and bedding so he can relax.

Sharing A Bunk

If you stay in a hotel with your dog, it’s important to book ahead with a pet-friendly hotel. When you check online, and it says “pet friendly,” be sure to ask if there’s a size limit to the dogs they allow. And know that your dog won’t be allowed to be left in the room unattended unless he is crated—and why would you do that when there’s so much fun to be had with him?

Where's The Destination

There’s no doubt about it. As long as you take the proper safety precautions, bringing your dog along on vacation is going to make it a lot more fun. From the mountains of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida, from roughing it on a hiking trip to living in the lap of luxury at a five-star hotel, there are countless destinations and good times to experience.

Outdoor lovers will be thrilled in Bend, Oregon, with its alpine lakes, National Forests, and extinct volcanoes. Sedona, Arizona is a great spot for active dogs who will love venturing in parks and forests and some of the best hiking trails. Maine’s Bar Harbor is another top spot to hike with your dog. If you have a furry surfer-dude in your family, head to Florida’s Gulf Coast to Sanibel Island or to Gloria Estefan’s boutique hotel, Costa d’Este. Or visit San Diego. It may have some of the most dog-friendly beaches you can find. In the mood to pamper your dog with a spa treatment? The D Pet Hotel is a luxury pet resort and spa with baths, massages, teeth-cleaning (okay, that doesn’t sound fun), and pedicures. Or head to Savannah, Georgia, and look for ghosts at Bonaventure Cemetery. Named one of the ten most beautiful cemeteries in the United States, it received fame when featured in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." Bonaventure is pet-friendly and also one of the popular dog parks in the city. After you’re done padding around there, visit the many shops and restaurants that welcome dogs.


How about a cross-country trip? If you’ve taken all the measures above to ensure your dog's safety, health, and comfort, he will be happy no matter where you take him as long as he has you at his side.

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