The Top 8 Pet Travel Tips For A Smooth Ride

Many of us take our dogs with us in the car.

But what about when you’re headed out for the long-haul? What about when that trip isn’t just to the local dog park or a nice hiking trail?

What if you’re going to be in the car for several hours and away from the house for a few days?

Traveling with your dog may seem overwhelming, but with a little prep, it’s easy. If you’re planning on taking your pooch with you on a road trip, these pet travel tips will make the trip smoother for everyone.

1. Practice Before The Big Trip 

If your dog isn’t accustomed to riding in the car, start there. Take at least one short trip of two to four hours before you go on your longer vacation. See how your dog does in the car. 

If you’re the type of person who gets in a flurry before a trip, plan ahead to be calm to help your dog stay calm. Animals tend to pick up on chaos and anxiety, which makes them anxious. 

If you’re looking for something to calm your dog before the big day, Dogs Naturally has some great, all natural solutions for anxiety

2. Invest In Safety

Maybe your dog loves the car. Maybe she loves being free to sit in the front seat with you or sticking her head out the window ...

... but I think we all know that this isn't the safest way to travel with a pup.

Dogs can generate a huge amount of force in an accident. To keep your dog safe, there should be something restraining her. There is a reason we wear seatbelts after all. Some states even require pet restraints by law.

Two options are a seatbelt or a crate

  • A seatbelt/safety harness 

Look for quality. Try to avoid plastic - it can snap easily with enough force. Also look at the stitching, straps, snaps and other hardware. Do they look strong enough to remain intact? 

Unfortunately, not all pet seatbelts are created equal. Only a few are accident rated, so do your research to find ones that are tested and approved.

  • A crate

A crate is good, but make sure it's secured to the vehicle. And try not to put the crate in the very back, just in case there's a rear-end collision.

In both cases, make sure that, if the seatbelt is damaged or the door is blocked on the crate, there's a quick release mechanism. You need to be able to get your dog out, fast, if need be. 

3. Check Your Tags

Most of us don't think anything bad will happen while we're away from home. That said, it's always good to be prepared just in case. 

Make sure your dog’s tags have your current information on them. You might even want to have a temporary tag that can be updated each time you stay overnight. Make sure the number for your temporary address is on these ones.

You should also have your dog’s health and medical records with you. Up to date photos are also important. 

4. Pack For Your Dog’s Comfort 

Some dogs don't mind being away from home. Others may take time to adapt to a new environment, so bringing along a few comforts from home is a good idea. Pack your dog's favorite bed and toys. 

The same goes for food bowls. Try and bring things to make the space feel as normal as possible.  

Your dog will feel better staying in a hotel or at your mom’s house if she has her own belongings that smell like home. 

pet travel tips

5. Plan Ahead For Hotels

Don’t assume that you’ll find pet-friendly accommodations along the way at the last minute. You should research where you plan to stop. Call ahead to ensure that the hotel can and will take your dog. Some have weight limits. Ask about extra fees and charges. 

6. Pack Food, Water And Supplements

A getaway isn’t the right time to try out new food or run out of your dog's usual. Pack extra food in case your trip is delayed for any reason. Take plenty of water on your trip, too. You should also consider packing your own treats, too. That way you know what you’re giving your pet. 

If you're a raw feeder, don't just toss in the towel and go to kibble for convenience. There are several easy ways to travel with a raw fed dog. Find them here. 

7. Plan For Extra Breaks

Your dog may need breaks every two hours on the road. Every time you stop, give your dog a chance to walk around and stretch her legs. If you can tire her out, she’ll be calmer in the car and in the hotel room. You’ll feel better, too. 

Better yet, check out nice trails along the way. Or, if you're a frequenter of dog parks, look for ones along your route to give your dog a break from the back seat.

8. Pack Extra Supplies

Think about where you’re going and plan what your pet will need. Some good extras to have in the car include:

  • A pet first aid kit
  • Extra blankets and towels
  • Cleaning supplies in case your dog has an accident in the car or hotel (or wherever you're staying)
  • Natural bug repellent 


Emily Vey is a research and writing wizard on the Four Leaf Rover team. She’s always working to help dogs live the healthiest lives possible (and helping the earth doesn't hurt either)! She lives in Ontario with her partner-in-crime Ryan, their husky Inuk and German shepherd Indi. Together they enjoy hiking, swimming and all things outdoors!

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