7 Tips for Planning a Road Trip With Your Dog

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The dog days of summer may be beckoning you to take a road trip with your best four-legged friend, so being prepared to hit the open road will require some planning before the actual fun begins.


Below are seven tips you might not think about prior to driving away to your next destination with dog in tow:


Set Aside Some Cash

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As soon as you learn you are going on vacation, start socking away a little extra cash from each paycheck if you can. There are ways to budget finances every month and plan for unforeseen circumstances. Consider it a ‘pet emergency fund’.


An unplanned veterinarian visit while vacationing isn’t all that uncommon. If you’re camping and hiking on new terrain or RVing in new territory, for example, all sorts of hazards exist that could result in injury or illness.


Sprains, cut paws, dehydration, poisonous plants, and bee stings are just a few issues your dog might encounter. But the financial burden of an unforeseen vet bill can be lessened by saving beforehand.


Map Your Route

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Do you know how long it’s going to take to get to your final destination? Be sure to plan your specific route in advance and stop at least every four hours to let your dog do his business and walk around.


If you break up your trip into overnight stays, make sure the lodging is pet-friendly because it would be a pain to get turned away because you didn’t check first.


Bring Pet Documents


If for some reason you do have to go to the vet while traveling, having a record of your pet’s health will come in handy. Before leaving on your trip, make sure you have a copy of your dog’s medical record and your home vet’s contact information.


Handy phone apps can help keep pets’ medical records organized and even give users access to common vet-answered questions while on the go. Another thing to consider is getting your dog micro-chipped if he/she isn’t already.


Don’t Ride Shotgun

Get the car prepped for dog travel. They need a comfortable space to ride in. A properly-vented travel crate or carrier that’s big enough to stand or turn around in is ideal. You don’t literally want your dog in your lap while driving, so set them up properly.

A pet barrier between the back and front seat can work, but make sure they can’t squeeze through it or knock it down. All of these methods of transport need to be tested in advance to see what works and what doesn’t.

Make their space familiar by placing their dog bed and favorite toy inside. Pack a dog bag – collapsible bowls, leash, poop bags, blankets, toys, treats, and more than enough food.

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Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car


Hundreds of dogs die every year from being left in the car. Don’t forget common sense. Leaving your dog in your parked car when it’s too hot or too cold could result in death. Even if it’s just to run an errand, don’t do it.


Within 10 minutes, the temperature inside the vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees, and in 20 minutes almost 30 degrees. At one hour, the temp can be more than 40 degrees warmer in the car than the outside temperature – so even on a 70-degree, that’s 110 degrees inside. Cracking the window has very little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle.


One solution would be to get doggie daycare lined up in advance, so that you can do errands or separate activities without putting your dog at risk.


Be Aware of Heat Stroke

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Whether outside running around or left in the car, heat stroke can cause permanent organ damage to your dog and even death. Take your dog to the vet immediately  if you notice excessive panting, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, drooling, lethargy, glazed eyes, a purplish tongue, and lack of coordination.


Also, bring your pet into an air-conditioned space quickly and use ice packs on his head, neck and chest. Run cool water over them, and let them lick ice cubes.


Plan for Fun

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Some cities and towns have swimming pools for dogs! This would not only cool your dog off, but give him a chance to play with other dogs. Some pet boarding places also have swimming pools. If your dog doesn’t know how to swim, here are five easy pool tips to teach him/her how.

With a little planning, you and your furry companion will have a memorable and fun time together on your next road trip. Final tip: Don’t forget to take pictures of your adventures!

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dmorrissey_headshotBio: Devin lives with his pit bull, Scrummy, and often writes while he sleeps across his feet. When he’s not writing or browsing Wikipedia, he’s experimenting with his friends’ cars out of his own wallet.