Tips for Traveling Cross-Country With Dogs

Are you planning a big road trip and hope to take your dogs with you? Or maybe you need to make a big move from one city or state to another, and your canine companions travel better in the car? Here are some checklist items to make your road trip as smooth and anxiety-free as possible.

Include At Least One Human


Dogs make excellent road-trip companions, but you also need a buddy who can take the wheel. Long trips are unpredictable, and there’s always a possibility of food poisoning or other issues that could prevent you from being able to drive. You don’t want to be stranded somewhere when you need to focus on the health and well-being of your dogs.

Research Destinations Ahead of Time


When traveling to another country, such as Canada and Mexico, research any laws focused on transporting animals across the borders, which still may not be open to American travelers following covid-19. For trips requiring a stay in a hotel or rented room, call ahead of time to check pet policies and restrictions. Ask for a first-floor room, and bring your own dog beds, food dishes, toys, and leashes.

Keep Pups Safe in the Car


Set up a secure place for the dogs inside the car, including safety harnesses, kennels, and backseat barriers to prevent sudden shifting — or a rogue dog climbing into your lap as you drive. PETA suggests using a window guard for dogs who like to ride with the windows down. The guard prevents eye trauma and keeps your dog securely inside the vehicle at all times. Avoid traveling with your dogs in the bed of a truck, as sudden stops easily jolt dogs out of the bed while sun exposure creates a hot truck bed floor.

Keep Pups Comfy in the Car


In addition to their safety, consider your dog’s comfort level; bumpy car rides often cause anxiety or stress. Keep dogs cozy with bedding and blankets so they can cuddle up and rest. Bring along their favorite toys, busy bones, and bully sticks to occupy their attention. Add shades to the side and back windows and run the air conditioner to keep dogs cool throughout the trip.

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Have Plenty of Food and Water Available


Make a food and water plan that covers the days you travel plus a week or so more, just in case. If your dogs are on a specific diet, portion food out for each meal to make it easy to grab and go at the hotel or rest stops. Provide safe, clean drinking water by keeping gallon bottles of water cool inside the car at all times.

Leashes, IDs & Microchips


Before the trip, take your dogs to the vet to make sure they’re healthy. If possible, have your vet issue a health certificate verifying each dog is healthy and vaccinated. Have your vet double-check your pup’s microchip information to make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Finally, make sure your pets are wearing ID tags and leashes on at all times, including inside hotels. Dogs have a tendency to dash out of doors or windows if something frightens or excites them.


Many rest areas have little dog park areas that give you the opportunity to play fetch, use the bathroom, and let dogs run around a bit. If your rest area doesn’t include this convenient little perk, walk your dog for several minutes around the rest stop. This is also a great time to set out a water dish or check the car to ensure your pup’s area is still in order.

Time Zone Transitions


Keep track of the change in time zones, because your dogs still want to eat and keep the same basic routine they follow at home. This is especially important for mealtimes and administering medications.


These tips alleviate some of the issues traveling with dogs creates. Keep your dogs happy, but don’t forget to keep yourself comfortable and hydrated as well with this pawfect tumbler.

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