Bringing your dog on the family road trip? Here are some tips…

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If you’re planning a trip before the end of summer and bringing your dog along, here are some tips:

Pack Fido a suitcase too:

It doesn’t have to be a suitcase, but pack for your pet too. It’s a good idea to bring a portable water bowl and some extra food for rest stops. Bring a bag of the type of food you usually feed your dog, so you don’t upset its stomach with a diet change once you’re on the road.

Most people have at least a small collection of plastic bags from grocery shopping. Bringing some of these along, as well as paper towels or cleaning wipes, can be helpful for both picking up after your dog at rest areas, and in the event that your pet vomits or has an accident in the car.

You might also want to bring a few of your pet’s favorite items, like toys and a blanket or bed, to help reduce nervousness during travel.

Be sure your dog is safely secured for the trip:

Use a pet carrier or harness device to keep him or her safe for the ride. According to Erie Insurance, the safety experts at the Center for Pet Safety, a research and advocacy organization based in Reston, Virginia, recommend that pet parents invest in a quality crash-tested harness that protects both pets and travelers if an accident occurs.

The Center for Pet Safety also warns against using long extension tethers and zipline style products during travel because these could allow the pet to launch into the cabin of a vehicle.

If you use a carrier for your dog (or cat), the safest place for them is in the backseat foot well, according to Erie. Don’t let your pet ride in your lap or on the front seat. In an accident, the front seat airbag could kill your pet, or the seat belt could crush the carrier.

For more about pet restraints during auto travel, check out:

Make sure your pet has ID:

One of the biggest worries about taking a pet along on a trip is that he or she will escape in an unfamiliar area. Make sure that your dog has an ID tag on his or her collar with your phone number and address. Also make sure that your dog’s microchip information is up to date.

For extra piece of mind, you can also buy a GPS tracking device for your dog’s collar, such as the one shown below, which is the FitBark GPS dog tracker. It’s waterproof and also monitors activity, sleep quality, distance, calorie balance, anxiety, skin conditions and overall health and behavior 24/7. For more information, click here.

Prepare your vehicle.

The only thing less fun than being stranded on the roadside is being stranded with your dog. It’s a good idea to do the following before you head onto the open highway:

  1. Check your tires. You can check by using “the penny test.” Just insert a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires.
  2. Change your oil and top off fluids. Check all of your vehicle’s fluid levels too. That includes windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Top them all off as needed.
  3. Check your emergency kit. If you find yourself stranded, a well-stocked emergency kit could help you get back on the road quickly and safely. Pre-assembled kits are available for purchase, or you can use this guide to assemble your own emergency kit.

Make sure your four-legged family member is welcome.

Unfortunately, some cities have restrictions on dog breeds, so you’ll want to know about them if you’re travelling with dogs such as pit bulls, dobermans, Rottweilers and even huskies. The following has a list of breed specific laws by state:

It can be helpful to learn the restrictions for areas that you will be passing through. For example, is a muzzle and/or six-foot or shorter leash required for your dog? If so, you can either re-route or plan to bring what’s needed in the event that you are stopping for a rest break or temporarily staying in an area with BSL.

It’s also important to make sure your pet is up to date on shots before you leave and to bring a copy of those records with you just in case your dog gets loose and is picked up by animal control or if you visit anywhere with your dog that requires such records. Most dog parks, for example, require that your dog is wearing an up-to-date rabies tag. The core dog diseases that dogs should usually be vaccinated for include Parvo, distemper, adenovirus, and rabies. These shots will, of course, additionally help ensure the health and well being of your pet.

If your trip involves staying in a hotel or motel, you can find ones that are pet-friendly through sites such as and

And, if you’re staying with friends or family, it’s definitely wise to inform them that your dog will be coming along too so they can plan accordingly.

Plan for sightseeing

You should never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day — not even for a few minutes, not even with the windows slightly cracked (which doesn’t help much). When temperatures outside range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172.

Having a pet with you can be very fun for both you and the pet. But, make sure that you have a plan for where your pup will stay that is safe and cool in the event you are visiting restaurants, shops or tourist atttactions. If this isn’t feasible, you might want to rethink your plans and let Fido stay at home with a pet sitter or friend or family member who isn’t going on the trip.

Bon voyage

Once everything is together, you should be ready to travel with your family, including your pup, so don’t forget to bring along a car charger for your cell phone or have any other camera you plan to use fully charged so that you can take plenty of great pics of your summer adventure.

News story adapted from Erie Insurance Group news release

Additional source:


    • Thank you! I used to travel back and forth from NY to Pennsylvania with my Black lab. One of my dreams is retiring and traveling the country in a camper with my dogs.

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