What Should I Bring on a Road Trip with my Dog? – 13 Best Tips!


Middle Class Dad road trips with your dog pug sticking its head out of a moving car's window

Road trips with your dog can make for an amazing journey. But many dog lovers have wondered what should I bring on a road trip with my dog?

I decided to compile a list of my best tips. Here they are:

Make sure to bring familiar toys & bedding, but also ensure your dog has tags with your phone number and get them microchipped. Vet records can be helpful too, along with a doggy first aid kit, plastic bags for picking up poop, puppy pads for your car’s interior, and food and water bowls.

But those are just a few of the essentials. So let’s dive in further.

So in this article, we’re diving in deep into road trips with your dog. We’ll look at some of the biggest challenges and some things you won’t want to miss. But specifically, we’re answering the question of what should I bring on a road trip with my dog?

Below, I have listed out 13 essential tips that will help you have epic road trips with your dog. But first, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about road-tripping with your dog.

How do you take a dog on a long car ride?

It helps to have a plan.

After all, if your dog gets sick, it could be helpful to know where to stop along with the way to get them help. But also, many hotels don’t take pets, so knowing which ones do is crucial.

My dogs also get motion sick, so some puppy pads can save your car’s interior, and you may even want to think about a puppy sedative which we’ll get into more below.

But here are the top things to consider when planning a road trip with your dog:

  1. Get them checked out by your vet – Many of us only take our pets to the vet when something is wrong. So have your vet do a check-up and get them up-to-date on shots.
  2. Make sure they have a well-fitting collar with tags with your name and phone number
  3. Get them microchipped too – That way if they do run away and get picked up, the chances are good you will be contacted
  4. Place puppy pads on the floorboards in the back and on the back seats – This will be great in case of accidents
  5. Bring water and food bowls and place on the floorboards in the back seat – Ideally the ones they already know. After all, everything will be new and different so having some familiar items from home will be comforting
  6. Also, bring a few of their favorite toys and a blanket
  7. Plan to stop every 2-3 hours – No marathon driving here. Your dog will not only need potty breaks, but they also will need to stretch their legs
  8. Map out your route ahead of time
  9. Know which hotels along that route allow pets
  10. If they have a crate at home they use sometimes, put that in the back seat – It will be another familiar thing and can be a comforting place to go, especially during bad weather

How often should you stop on a road trip with a dog?

About every 3-4 hours. But the size and age of the dog can affect that, so always err on the side of caution.

Stopping frequently is a must on a road trip with your dog.

It’s not just to let them potty. No, especially for larger dogs, they must have some time to run around and burn off some energy. When they aren’t able to burn off that energy, they’re more apt to get restless. So a calm, relaxed dog will make the trip more enjoyable for both of you.

Do make sure to only take them out of the car on a leash.

Aside from that possibly being the law where you stop, remember this will be unfamiliar territory for them. So they could be easily startled and run away. If you can find some fenced dog parks along your route, that is ideal.

Also, make sure to bring plenty of those grocery store plastic bags that are likely piling up in your pantry. Those are great for picking up poop. And in many places that will be the law.

If they have a crate at home they use sometimes, put that in the back seat. It will be another familiar thing and can be a comforting place to go, especially during bad weather or if you don’t own SUV and have a sedan like a Subaru then opt for a dog divider so your dogs would have a bigger space at the back of your car. 

Should I give my dog a sedative for car travel?

Some dogs, like mine (Valerie and Chai) get really anxious in the car.

In my dog’s case, they were abandoned roadside, so chances are they see the car and re-live that abandonment. And early on after we got them every car ride was traumatic for them. They probably literally thought we were dumping them.

But other dogs just suffer from travel anxiety and are not comfortable riding in a car. They may not like the confined space or the motion of the car as it flies down the highway. Sadly, that leaves many dogs nervous and upset.

Luckily, there are some great over-the-counter dog sedatives for car travel.

You know you’ll need one if your dog exhibits some of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Restless pacing
  • Nervousness
  • Panting or whimpering

Before we talk about what to give them, though, make sure to make the car interior as comforting as possible with:

  • Their favorite toys
  • Relaxing music
  • Roll down the windows sometimes
  • Familiar bedding

Always check with your vet before giving your dog any medications. But I have found that the following ones you can buy on Amazon work great!

1. Vetoquinol Zylkene Behavior Support Capsules

The plus of this one is it’s non-drowsy. And it’s great for a variety of things that can stress your dog out. Things like fireworks, thunderstorms, grooming, etc.

The company has been around almost 100 years and this works for both dogs and cats.

From the reviews, the top concerns were from people who either said they didn’t notice a behavior change (although most of those reviews were from cat owners) or they could not get their dog to eat it. But it still has hundreds of outstanding reviews.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT ON AMAZON

2. NaturVet – Quiet Moments Calming Aid for Dogs

This one has even better reviews and is an Amazon’s Choice product.

It’s gentle enough to use daily too. Like the one above, it too is great not only for road trips but also for storms, fireworks or grooming. These are soft chews your dog will love to eat. Wheat-free too and made from all-natural sources like hemp, ginger, and melatonin.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT ON AMAZON

3. Rescue Remedy Stress Relief Drops For Pets

I have used Rescue Remedy for years as not only do they make this pet formula, they make this for adults and kids too. I moved cross-country once with 2 cats in the cab of a U-Haul with me and this stuff was a lifesaver!

This is, by far, the cheapest of these 3 recommendations and like the one above, it too is an Amazon’s Choice product. 

In terms of reviews, it’s not quite as good as my #2 recommendation but is a little better than the #1 recommendation above. But it also has the most number of reviews coming in at almost 2,000!

This one is non-drowsy and all-natural and homeopathic. They recommend just 4 drops (which you could also put in the water bowl) and that dose is the same no matter what the size or weight of your dog.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT ON AMAZON

But now, let’s get into the . . . 

13 Best Tips for Taking a Roadtrip with Your Dog

1. Create a Foolproof Checklist for Your Dog’s Needs

First thing first. List out the things that you might need for your dog during the trip. Cross-check everything and pack them up in a different bag. Your list might include:

  • Dog Snacks
  • Essential Medicines
  • Grooming Brush
  • Pillows & Toys
  • Collar tag and leash
  • Nutritious Food and Glucose water
  • Small shovel and Plastic bags
  • Care kit and health kit
  • Identifying documents and Pictures

These will help you to stay in control all the time and take care of your dog perfectly.

2. Start Small Before Making Longer Journeys

It is a good idea to make shorter trips before you start planning for longer road trips with your dog. It will help your dog to get used to the idea of traveling. Plus, you will figure out what to do and what not to do with your dog inside the car.

Longer trips tend to increase nausea among the dogs if they are not used to it.

Go to the next city or to the local park that takes about 2/3 hours of travel. Monitor your dog’s movement and observe whether he can cope with the situation or not. This practice will also help you to understand if your dog has any motion sickness or not. 2/3 shorter trips are ideal before you jump to the bigger ones.

When you make stops on your road trips, make sure and get plenty of walking time in with your dog. There are some significant benefits of walking your dog you might not know that can keep you and your pooch healthy for years to come.

3. Make Sure Your Dog is Potty Trained

You don’t want your dog to make a mess inside a public establishment or your car. There is a high chance of this happening if your dog is not potty trained. Make sure that your dog is potty trained and can make loo when told.

This will give you more freedom to roam around and help you to avoid unnecessary cleaning situations. Make note of when your dog had its last meal and plan his loo needs accordingly.

Stop the car in a suitable place and wait till your dog clears up his bowel movement.

4. Locate Pet-Friendly Locations Ahead of Time

Middle Class Dad road trips with your dog dog sitting in front of a white SUV parked on the road with trees and a lake in the background

You don’t want to end up in a situation when you have to leave your dog alone in the car, do you?

That is why you should make sure that the places allow pets. Not only allow, but are very friendly toward pets as well. Look at their facilities and check whether they provide pet foods and beds.

You will not require to carry a lot of things if the places are pet-friendly. Sometimes, the establishment might ask for a health record of your dog just to be safe. You should carry that with you just in case.

Avoid places that do not allow pets.

Whether at home or on the road, it’s always a great idea to know how to Get Rid of Dog Odor in Carpet. So take a moment and review the most crucial tips in one of my recent articles so you can bring the necessary supplies with you if needed.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

5. Carry a Doggy First-aid Kit and Plenty of Food

Unfortunately, you may have to deal with motion sickness and sleep troubles during road trips with your dog.

Plus, there are also chances of sudden injuries and sickness. So, you should carry a well-designed health kit for your dog to tackle these problems. Make sure you know the dosage for your dog and also consult a vet if you have enough time in your hand.

You should also carry enough food for your whole trip. By this time you have already figured out which brand your dog prefers. You can also take some glucose with you to avoid any loss of energy for your dog.

Want the top-ranking pet first aid kit on Amazon Prime?

It’s the RC Pet Products Pet First Aid Kit (click to see it on Amazon)  It’s not the only pet first aid kit on Amazon with almost all 5-star reviews, but it is the one with the most reviews, so you know this is a great item to have whether at home or on road trips with your dog.

Middle Class Dad road trips with your dog RC Pet Products Pet First Aid Kit

6. Avoid the Perils of Feeding Your Dog At the Last Minute

Do not wait till the very last moment to feed your dog. This will almost always result in him throwing up during the Journey. So, feed them 2 hours before the Journey to make sure that he does not throw up.

Take note of their mealtime and plan his next meal accordingly. If your dog is potty trained then you don’t have to worry about them pooping inside the car.

7. The Heartbreak of Losing Your Dog on a Road Trip

Nothing is more heartbreaking than losing your dog in the middle of nowhere.

No one deserves to lose their one true love like that. So, it is a good idea to put all of your contact information inside the Dog tag. It is a clever way of making sure that you will find your dog if it gets lost.

Tracking devices are also very helpful but they can be a bit expensive. So, you can opt for an updated dog tag that helps people contact you. Make sure that the tag is firmly placed and includes all the important information.

That way if the unthinkable happens on one of your road trips with your dog, you stand an excellent chance of finding them.

Get the best dog ID tag for under $15!

The GoTags Pet ID Dog Tags (click to see on Amazon Prime) is a fully custom engraved dog ID tag.

It ships with your custom contact info on it within 3-5 days. It’s super-strong stainless steel and over 600 reviews that are almost all 5-star, this one is a no-brainer for your road trips with your dog!

Middle Class Dad road trips with your dog GoTags Pet ID Dog Tags. Stainless Steel. Custom Engraved. Includes up to 8 Lines of Personalized Text with Front and Backside Engraving.

8. Carry Recent Photos and Vet Records of Your Dog

You can never be too safe with your dog. They are wild and carefree and can run off the moment you take your eyes off of him/her. So, you should carry recent photos of your dog with you in case you need to go for a search.

Plus, a lot of places ask for health documents of the dog to get in. So. You should carry the updated documents with you to avoid any complications. You can carry the soft copies of these to make it more convenient.

Besides, before you embark on your epic journey, it’s a great idea to Train Your Dog to be Calm and Relaxed. That way, your dog can roll with the punches and twists and turns that can come on a road trip.

9. Bring Chewable Toys in Your Car

Carry chewable toys or any other favorite of your dog along with you. This will help them to fight stress during the journey and keep them entertained. It will also stop them from roaming around the car during the journey.

Sanitize the dolls properly before the journey and Keep those on the back seat. Sometimes the dog tends to throw them off the window so have a lookout for that.

Want the #1 rated dog chew toy on Amazon Prime?

The Benebone Real Flavor Wishbone Dog Chew Toy (click to see on Amazon Prime) is the best-selling chew toy on Amazon!

It has a whopping 6,800 reviews and rates almost all 5 stars, and at under 12 bucks, its outstanding on your wallet too!

Middle Class Dad road trips with your dog Benebone Real Flavor Wishbone Dog Chew Toy, Made in USA

10. Make Planned and Frequent Stops

Do not make a long journey LOOONG! Take short breaks every now and then.

Not just for your dog but yourself as well. It will rejuvenate you and your dog and erase the boredom. It can also give your dog ample time to free his bowel.

Make planned stops do not stop at a random place. Check out the map beforehand and then plan your routine stop. You can take care of smaller tasks by mapping out where you want to stop.

11. Clip Nails and Trim Hairs of Your Dog before the Journey

Nail clipping and hair trimming are essential before taking road trips with your dog. Clipping the nails will save your car seats from his/her scratches. Plus, trimming the dog will give him a fresher look perfect for killer photos!

You do not have to go to the dog groomer to do this. You can do it with a clipper, a soap, and some YouTube videos. This not only saves money but also lets you bond with your dog.

Pet hair can not only wreak havoc in your car but your house also, so make sure to check out a recent article about the best ways to Get Rid of Pet Hair in your home.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

12. Give Them Enough Space inside Car

This is a very crucial one.

Make sure that your car has enough space inside for your dog to seat with comfort. He should be able to extend his legs to the fullest. Otherwise, he might end up with muscle pain.

Bring your dog bed inside the car if your dog is smaller in size. You can also carry some pillows inside to make the Seating more comfortable.

Worried about the dog tearing up your seats?

The Doggie World Dog Car Seat Cover (click to see on Amazon Prime) has almost 2,000 reviews and most are 5-star.

Keep scratching, dander, hair and smell away from your car’s interior with this quick, easy, and inexpensive solution!

Middle Class Dad road trips with your dog Doggie World Dog Car Seat Cover - Cars, Trucks and Suvs Luxury Full Protector, w/Extra Side Flaps, Seat Belt Openings - Hammock Convertible for Your Pet - Waterproof, Non-Slip - Machine Washable

13. Visit The Vet Beforehand and Keep Track of Nearby Clinics

Pay a visit to your vet before taking road trips with your dog.  Perform a full checkup for your dog and consult your vet about the journey. Carry notes about dietary issues or medicines your dog takes. That way you can access that info quickly if you need it.

Plus, you should also keep track of the nearby clinics during your journey. You can never predict the future and you might need to go to the vet very in short notice.  So keeping the contact number of the vet is always very helpful.

Bonus Tip: Bring Your Camera With You Full Charged

Road trips are the most profound way to get wonderful pictures of your dog.

It is a great adventure that brings out the inner and more jolly side of your dog. So, you should bring your camera with enough battery backups.  Let your dog run free and capture his moments of joy.

Did we cover all the tips you wanted to see about epic road trips with your dog?

With a little care and a lot of love, you can have some memorable time with your dog. But, things can get out of hand if you are not well prepared.

So in this post, we dove deep into all the best ways to prepare for taking road trips with your dog. We looked at all the typical problems that come up and what the best solutions are. 

Ultimately, we answered the question of what should I bring on a road trip with my dog?

Here’s to man’s best friend. Ciao.


About the co-author of this post:

Kaylie is all about heats and hugs. She is a content creator at Dogviously and prefers a simple life and believes in sharing. She can sync-dance with Sera – her Golden Retriever.


Want to write for Middle Class Dad too? Check out everything you need to know on my Guest Blog Page.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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