Summer is on its way and you are probably thinking about this year's holiday. A lot of us with dogs will prefer taking the car rather than other transport as it is so much more convenient, but before you embark on a long road trip there are some essential items you will want to pack.
It is also important to plan your trip so your dog and you can enjoy the ride. Read on and we can take you through everything you need to know.
Before the trip
If your dog isn't used to regular car journeys then it is a good idea to get them used to travelling in the car for a while before you go any distance. Make sure they have a designated area, whether that is in the boot or back seat.
How do you prepare a dog for a long car ride?
Try and keep to a similar routine before your trip - so if your dog is used to a morning walk, fit that in before you leave. It could be a good idea to make it a longer walk than normal to tire them out a bit so hopefully they can sleep a fair amount of the time. Feed your dog at the normal time too - even if that means stopping before you need to.
How long can a dog go on a road trip?
The key point here is to factor in lots of stops where your dog can stretch their legs and go to the loo. We suggest every three to four hours between breaks is about right-although you may need to stop more frequently with a puppy. Check out the listings on Driving with Dogs to find doggie-pawfect places to take a break with your pooch.
How do I calm my dog in a long car ride?
If your dog becomes restless or agitated on a trip the best thing you can do is stop for a while. If this isn't possible because you are stuck in a traffic jam then get some fresh air into the car and see if playing some music distracts them. You can give them their favourite toy to play with or dish out a treat. If you think they are too hot then offer them some water and create some shade.
So you've got your packing done - now lets see what you need for your faithful companion.
Dog gear essentials
- Travel restraint
- Seat cover
- Dog bed
- Collapsible dog bowl
- Poop bags
- Window shade
- Wet wipes
- Spare lead
- Vet record
- Travel health certificate
- Dog towel
To keep you and your dog safe on a long road trip, they should be safely secured. That can be using a dog seat belt,dog seat, crate or if they are in the rear of a hatchback, a dog guard. If your dog is not restrained you could end up with a fine and if you did have an accident it may invalidate your insurance. If you are using a crate it must be big enough for your dog to stand up in and turn around comfortably.
In case of any accidents, invest in a wipeable seat cover if your dog will be travelling in the back seat. Even if your dog isn't normally car sick, it pays to be better safe than sorry.
If you have a small dog or if they are going to travel in the boot, bringing their bed will encourage them to settle down and keep them calm. If you are staying overnight en route you will want them to have their bed in any accommodation you have booked.
It's very important to keep your dog hydrated - especially if you are travelling in the summer. Don't rely on being able to fill up on the way in case you get stuck in traffic and ensure you have enough for the journey.
Collapsible dog bowl
There's nothing more frustrating than forgetting the dog's bowl - especially when they need a drink. A collapsible travel bowl is ideal for this as not only do they not take up much room in your car, you can use it on hikes when you get to your destination.
Your dog will still need feeding as usual so ensure you pack enough for the journey. If your dog is on a raw diet you will need to use a cool box or similar to keep it fresh.
What goes in must come out and you don't want to find yourself without your dog waste bags when at a busy service station. They come in handy too as a small rubbish bag when on a journey.
Does your dog have a favourite toy? They can be very useful if your dog becomes restless or you need to distract them. A long lasting chew toy will keep them occupied for a good while. Consider buying them a new toy as this can keep them interested for longer.
Like children with sweets, dog treats can help to pass the time. Don't overdo them though, as it could affect your dog's stomach and induce travel sickness.
Your dog's blanket will smell of home and help them to settle on a long trip. If you stop for lunch you can take it with you to lie on in the cafe.
As dogs cant regulate their temperature as well as us it is a good idea to keep them out of direct sunlight. You can get window shades from car accessory shops or you can make your own with a towel trapped in the window top.
Invaluable when travelling with kids and dogs - for all manner of reasons.
For some reason being on the road means leads seem to go missing more easily-whether you leave them on top of the car or on the verge. You will kick yourself if you haven't got a spare one with you.
Just in case your pet becomes ill or has an accident, it is really useful to have their vet records with you especially if they have any long term health issues or allergies. It will also have their microchip number if they go missing.
Travel Health Certificate
Is your road trip taking you abroad? Since Brexit your dog's pet passport is no longer valid if you are travelling into the EU - including Southern Ireland. You will need to have a valid travel health certificate which is issued by your vet. Also ensure your dog doesn't need any specific treatments to enter certain countries.
We know you are not planning on a wet holiday, but even if it is raining you will still need to ensure your dog has some exercise. There isn't much worse that a wet dog in a full car so make sure you pack a dog towel to dry them off.
Being prepared for a long journey with your dog can make all the difference from being a nightmare to a happy adventure. By using our list we hope you will have a great time together - on the road.