5 Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

By: Deborah Linder, DVM, DACVN, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

These tips will make your next road trip more comfortable and safer for your pup.

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Summers are made for road trips—but if you have pets, there are a few things you need to remember before inviting your pup to hop in the car and enjoy the ride. Here's what you should know to make sure your pooch has a healthy and safe trip. One of the most important things to remember is that your car heats up fast. In just 10 minutes on an 80-degree sunny day, temps in your car can jump 20 degrees. Don't leave your pet in the car unattended during hot summer weather, even just for a few minutes. Read on for other ways to have a happy and healthy road trip with your best friend.

1. Treat Pet Food with Care

In warmer weather, pet foods have a higher risk of spoilage. Foods high in fat or with added fish oils or omega-3s are more likely to spoil (since the fats can break down) and potentially make your dog sick. Pack pet food and treats in an airtight container. Use a cooler to keep food cool and dry and bring the food into your hotel room instead of leaving it in your hot car.

2. Offer Water Frequently

Dogs are susceptible to heatstroke when they don't get enough water. Try a snap-in water bowl for crates or keep a collapsible dog bowl on hand. Be sure to make water stops every couple of hours. Also, be aware that some pets may not drink water that tastes or smells different than their water at home. If you suspect you may have a picky pup, consider packing extra water to feed your pet—and if you're going to be on the road for long, make a plan for gradually accustoming your pet to the taste of the water at his destination.

3. Let Your Pet Indulge in a Special Treat

If you're making an ice cream stop on the road, it's OK to treat your pup to a small vanilla cone once in a while. Don't overdo it—treats like this should make up no more than 10% of total daily calories—but it can be fun to treat your dog to an occasional indulgence.

4. Beware of Motion Sickness.

If your pet gets carsick when you travel, your veterinarian can prescribe motion-sickness medication. You can also try adding 1 teaspoon of a fiber supplement to your dog's food to help if they have diarrhea that is brought on by stress (look for psyllium with no added sweetener or flavors). Sometimes, carsickness happens regardless; if you suspect your pet might be sick when you get going, plan ahead with plenty of paper towels and cleaning supplies.

5. Stretch Your Legs

Your dog is probably itching to go for a walk after being cramped up in the car, and it's good for you too. You'll likely be stopping frequently anyways for both human and canine potty breaks, so be sure to move a little. Plan stops along the way at places where you might be able to walk for a few minutes—even a couple laps around the parking lot count.

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