5 Veterinarian-Approved Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

Use these expert-approved tips to make your next road trip a success.

If you're itching to stop staring at the same four walls every day, a road trip is the perfect, COVID-19 safe choice. You'll want to turn the drive into a family bonding experience, which may mean bringing your dog along for the ride. Here are some veterinarian-approved tips for making traveling with your dog a success.

German Shorthaired Pointer on Dock with Family
Getty/Jon Feingersh Photography Inc

Breed Matters Less Than Temperament

When you're wondering how your dog will fare on a road trip, Dr. Tom Watson, DVM, of Carolinas Veterinary Medical Hospital, suggests assessing your pet's temperament instead of focusing on their breed. If your pup tends to be laid back, they'll probably enjoy a road trip more than a high-strung dog who perceives every car driving by as a threat.

"You're going on a vacation to relax and unwind. If the dog is anxious and making you anxious because they're not traveling well, you need to figure out how you can make it a good trip for everybody," he advises.

As far as the size of the dog goes, there's no rule as to whether bigger or smaller canines make for better travel companions, though Dr. Watson does say that, as expected, it tends to be trickier to travel with larger dogs simply due to space constraints.

Do a Practice Run First

If your dog hasn't spent much time in the car, Dr. Watson recommends doing shorter trial runs first, versus spontaneously planning a vacation and hoping your pet won't mind the drive.

"If you want to run a marathon, you start by jogging around the block one time. The same thing goes for dogs," Dr. Watson says. "First, put the dog in the car and stay in the driveway. Then, move up and down the driveway or go around the block once."

This allows you to see how your dog fares in the car. Is she barking at everything and blocking your view? Is she content to take a nap in the backseat? A practice run will also tell you if your pup gets carsick. If this becomes an issue, Dr. Watson recommends a medication called Cerenia. It's a pet-specific drug that works for dogs of all sizes.

Plan To Stop Every Few Hours

After a successful test run, you'll feel more comfortable bringing your dog along on your next road trip. But even if your pup loves taking a ride, you'll need to factor in breaks every three to four hours. This allows him to get out, stretch his legs, and go to the bathroom.

If Your Dog Likes To Roam, Invest in a Car Seat or Other Restraint

Dr. Watson explains that there are people on both sides of the fence when it comes to whether you need a restraint of some kind if you plan to take your dog on a road trip.

"It really depends on your philosophy and personal comfort level, as long as they're not hyper or causing a distraction or danger for the driver, of course," Dr. Watson says.

WATCH: How To Road Trip with Your Dog

Pack Their Favorite Comfort Items

Just like kids, dogs do better when they have a few comforts of home with them. If they're especially fond of a particular toy or blanket, make sure it's within easy reach as you pack up the car and head out.

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