Is It Safe To Take Dogs on Long Drives?

Adaeze Nwakaeze Adaeze Nwakaeze · Updated: March 15, 2023 / Published: March 13, 2023
Dog, long drives

A road trip with your furry friend is one of life’s most fantastic adventures. The open road, fresh air and the thrill of exploring new places together can be fun and create lasting memories. But is it safe to take dogs on long drives?

The answer is YES! However, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure your pup has the safest and most comfortable experience when hitting the road. As fellow dog lovers, we know how important it is to be safe when you bring a furry friend along for the ride. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide, filled with expert tips and advice on how to make your road trip with your dog an experience you’ll both cherish. We’ve got you covered, from the best way to pack your dog’s belongings to keep them entertained and comfortable throughout the trip. 

So, grab your dog’s favorite toy, buckle up and let’s embark on a journey full of adventure and unforgettable memories!

Preparing for the Trip

Preparing for a road trip with your dog requires a bit of extra planning. Here are some tips on what to pack and how to plan your route:

#1. Pack For Your Dog’s Needs

When packing for your dog, consider what they need for the trip. This includes food and water bowls, plenty of water, enough dog food for the trip and any medications your dog requires. It’s important to keep your dog’s diet consistent, so bring the same type and brand of dog food that they eat at home. If your dog has a favorite blanket or bed, bring that along too. Don’t forget to pack a leash, poop bags and a first-aid kit for your dog.

#2. Plan Your Route

Before you hit the road, research pet-friendly accommodations and restaurants along your route. This will help you plan your rest stops and ensure your dog has a comfortable and safe place to stay during the trip. Some hotels and motels have restrictions on the size and breed of dogs they allow, so check before booking. It’s also important to consider the length of each driving day and plan accordingly. Also, some states and cities have specific regulations for traveling with pets, so check these in advance.

#3. Take Breaks

Just like humans, dogs need regular breaks to stretch their legs and use the bathroom. Plan to stop every two or three hours to let your dog out for a walk and some fresh air. This will also help prevent car sickness and restlessness during the drive. Keep your dog on a leash when you stop and clean up after them.

#4. Prepare for Emergencies

Have your vet’s contact information and a copy of your dog’s medical records on hand before you hit the road in case of an emergency. Researching emergency animal hospitals along your route is also a good idea. Pack a first-aid kit specifically for your dog. 

#5. Consider Your Dog’s Personality

If your dog is easily stressed or anxious, consider ways to make them more comfortable during the trip, including calming supplements, a Thundershirt or playing soothing music in the car. Try practicing short car trips with your dog leading up to the long trip to help them get used to the experience.

#6. Be Mindful of Weather Conditions

When planning your trip, consider the weather conditions and how they may affect your dog. If traveling in hot weather, keep your dog hydrated and never leave them alone in a parked car. If you’re traveling in cold weather, ensure your dog has a warm coat and bring extra blankets to keep them warm.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Comfortable and Happy During the Trip

Traveling could be stressful for dogs, but there are steps you can take to keep your furry friend comfortable and happy during the trip.

  • Provide comfort by bringing along familiar items.
  • Keep your dog entertained with toys, chew bones or audiobooks.
  • Avoid overfeeding your dog and stick to their regular feeding schedule.
  • Practice positive reinforcement by rewarding good behavior with treats and praise.
  • Make sure your dog is well-hydrated.
  • Check the car’s temperature and ensure it’s not too hot or cold for your dog. 
  • Consider using calming aids such as pheromone sprays or natural remedies like lavender oil to help reduce anxiety and stress in your dog during the trip.
  • If your dog is prone to motion sickness, talk to your vet about medication options or natural remedies to help prevent nausea and vomiting during the trip.
  • Bring along waste bags and clean up after your dog during the trip to keep your car and surroundings clean and hygienic.
  • Be patient and understanding with your dog during the trip. They may feel anxious or uncomfortable in new surroundings, so give them time to adjust and offer lots of love and reassurance.

Safety Considerations for Traveling with a Dog

Safety should always be a top priority when traveling with a dog on long drives. Here are some key safety considerations to keep in mind when hitting the road with your pup:

  • Always use a crate or restraint system to keep your dog secure during the trip. This will prevent them from getting injured in case of an accident or sudden stop.
  • Never let your dog ride with their head out the window or in the back of a truck. This could be dangerous and lead to serious injuries.
  • Ensure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations and medications before the trip. This includes flea and tick preventives, heartworm medication, and other necessary vaccines.
  • Bring a copy of your dog’s medical records and contact information for your veterinarian in case of an emergency.
  • Avoid feeding your dog while the car is in motion, which can lead to choking or vomiting.
  • Don’t allow your dog to sit in the front passenger seat as this can be risky in emergency situations.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in a hot car. This could be deadly, even with the windows cracked.

What to Do if You Encounter an Emergency During the Trip

As much as we prepare and plan our road trips, emergencies can still happen. Here are some tips to help you handle any situation:

#1. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and identification tags

The tags should display your contact information and your pet’s medical conditions. Also, consider having your pet microchipped for extra security.

#2. If you get into an accident, do not move your dog unless it is necessary

For safety precautions, it is best not to move your dog. Support their body with blankets or towels and keep them as still as possible until help arrives.

#3. Always keep a first aid kit for your dog in the car

The content in the kit should include bandages and antiseptic wipes, tweezers, scissors and splints for broken bones, antihistamines for insect bites or stings, hydrogen peroxide for wound flushing, and other supplies such as towels and gauze pads.

#4. Do not leave your dog in the car

If you experience a flat tire or engine failure on the road, do not leave your dog alone in the car while seeking assistance. If it’s safe to do so, bring him with you, but have a leash handy in case he becomes scared or runs off out of fear. Remember, if you encounter an emergency during your trip, the most important thing is to stay calm and act quickly.

The Benefits of Traveling with Your Dog

Traveling with your dog isn’t just about practical considerations it’s also an incredibly rewarding experience! Here are some benefits of bringing your furry friend along for the ride:

  • Dogs are great travel companions and can help alleviate loneliness or boredom during long trips.
  • Traveling with your dog could be a bonding experience that strengthens your relationship and creates lasting memories.
  • Dogs are a great icebreaker and can help you meet new people on your travels.
  • Bringing your dog along can encourage you to get out and explore, as you’ll want to find fun and dog-friendly activities to enjoy together.
  • Spending time in nature with your dog has been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits, including reduced stress and increased feelings of happiness.

Final Thoughts

Taking your dog on long drives is a fun and rewarding experience as long as you’re prepared! Follow the tips outlined in this post to ensure your travels with your pup are as safe and enjoyable as possible.