Everything You Need to Know About Road Trip Essentials for Dogs

Road Trip Essentials for Your Dogs

Summer is coming, which is often when people get the itch to travel! Though there are great pet sitters and boarding facilities available around the world, nothing beats a road trip with your pup. These fur-filled getaways with your pup—especially your first one—take a lot of preparation. So, how can you get ready for your trip? Here's what you need to know to keep your fur baby safe and comfortable on the road.

Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip with Dogs

Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip with Dogs

Road trips with dogs involve a decent amount of time in the car, so it’s important to think about how your dog will safely ride with you. A crate or specially designed dog seatbelt (that is well-fitted) will help keep your dog safe in the event of an accident while also preventing distractions while you drive. The crate or seatbelt should be set up in the backseat, away from airbags which can be fatal.

When you’re going on long road trips with dogs, the cargo area of hatchbacks and SUVs isn’t ideal because of crumple zones, where the most damage could happen to a vehicle. But you might need to put a crate there because of space restraints if you’re traveling with multiple people. Oh, and be sure to get your dog used to their restraint before you need to use it by easing them into longer rides. You don’t want a multi-hour road trip to be their first time in a crate or seat belt. As cute as it is to have your pup’s head hanging out of the window, it's important to secure them safely in your car at all times.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Destination for a Dog-Friendly Road Trip

When you’re planning for the best road trip with a dog, you won’t have much difficulty finding pet-friendly accommodations because of the growing market for vacationing with pups. Most websites can filter hotel search results by pet-friendly accommodations and let you know of any size limitations.

Websites like Go Pet Friendly and Bring Fido will list only dog friendly hotels and lodging, including campgrounds. Online reviews are invaluable for narrowing down choices. TripAdvisor is a great choice since there are millions of users, and you can search reviews by keywords such as “dog” or “pet.”

Check out our list of the 10 Best Pet Friendly Hotels in the USA!

When figuring out how to road trip with a dog, check your route for pet-friendly spots in the major cities that you’ll pass through. Go Pet Friendly’s Road Trip Planner has lots of road trip essentials for dogs and lets you map your route and view pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks, and stores along the way. Many restaurants with outdoor seating allow pets, but not all, and policies can change, so be sure to call ahead to confirm. Some even offer dog treats or a special dog menu.

Speak With Your Veterinarian

You should always loop your vet into your plans before hitting the road with your dog. Is your dog healthy enough to travel or take a road trip? Are they up to date on all their necessary vaccines? Is their microchip still in place and scannable? Do they get car sickness? Check in with your veterinarian before finalizing your travel plans, and if your dog is due for anything important before you leave.

Get All of the Essential Vaccinations

Ask your vet if your pet needs any additional vaccinations. For example, if you’re traveling to the Northeast United States (where deer tick populations are highest), make sure that your dog is prepared with a Lyme vaccine and tick preventative medications. For trips to the southern parts of the United States or to major cities, dogs should receive the leptospirosis vaccinations.

Request a Health Certificate

Dog health certificates state that your vet has examined your fur baby and they don’t appear to have any potentially contagious diseases. Health certificates are typically good for 30 days, though some airlines require a health certificate dated within 10 days of travel.

Update Your Medical Records and Microchip ID

Ask for an electronic copy and/or a printed copy of your pup’s most recent medical records. This is also a good time to ensure your dog's microchip information is accurate, too.

Get Ahead of Motion Sickness

About half of pet parents and their dogs travel by car, and some of those pups experience motion sickness in a moving vehicle or driving long distances. Signs of motion sickness include excessive drooling, licking of the paws, whining, or yawning. If this sounds like your dog, Bryant suggests asking your vet if an anti-motion sickness medication could help. Many puppies will grow out of motion sickness. However, we want to prevent them from feeling nauseous in the car, as it can lead to a negative association with car rides as they grow older.

PRO TIP: always have supplies handy to keep your car clean in case of messes, such as paper towels in the glove box or towels in the back seat.

Do Your Road Trip Research 

Plan Your Travel Route

Trip Reseach for a Road Trip with Dogs

Always maps out your route when you are traveling with your dog. Before taking a trip with your pup, plan a few bathroom break stops and water breaks along the way. It's also great to have a plan to visit a dog park or play fetch as your dog may have a lot of pent up energy from their time in the car.

While rest stops and gas stations are convenient, they are often along major highways and lack green space. Try adding a park to your route. Let your dog stretch, do some scent work, and really get a good amount of exercise. You may even find places where they can play with other dogs. It will be great mental and physical stimulation to tire them out. Let your furry friend burn off some steam the day before you leave by taking them to a dog park or doggy daycare. On the morning of your trip, start the day with a long walk or game of fetch. Expelling lots of energy early in the day will allow your pup to relax comfortably on the journey.

Locate Emergency Veterinary Offices

Make sure to have the name and number of a few urgent care vet clinics or emergency facilities along your route and near your destination. I have been in a situation before where I traveled to a beach town that did not have any vet offices open on the weekend in over a 1 hour radius, and my dog had a medical emergency. Now, I always have a plan before I go somewhere. If you’re visiting friends or family, they may know of a trustworthy emergency vet. If they can refer a vet, give the office a call and ask them about their walk-in policy and what documentation you should have on hand.

Dog Road Trip Essentials Packing List

I also highly recommend packing a well-stocked first aid kit with a minimum of these essentials:

Dog Essentials

  • Food and water: Bring enough dog food for the duration of the road trip, plus extra in case of delays. Don't forget their bowls for food and water.
  • Leash and collar/harness: Make sure your dog is properly secured whenever you make stops.
  • Identification: Ensure your dog's collar has an up-to-date ID tag, including your contact information.
  • Bedding: Bring along your dog's bed, a travel bed or a comfortable blanket for them to lie on during the journey and at your destination. Pet travel can feel cramped, especially for larger dogs or multiple dogs, so try to keep them as comfortable as possible with a good dog bed.
  • Dog toys: Keep your dog occupied entertained with their favorite toys to prevent boredom during long stretches of driving.
  • Medications and first aid kit: If your dog requires prescription medications, ensure you have enough for the trip. Also, pack a basic first aid kit for any emergencies.
  • Poop bags: Always clean up after your dog. Pack plenty of poop bags for the journey.
  • Towels: Accidents happen, especially on road trips. Bring towels to clean up any messes or to wipe off muddy paws.

Safety and Comfort for the Car Rides

Safety and Comfort During dog road trip for the Car Rides
  • Doggy seatbelt or restraint: Keep your dog safe and secure during the drive with a seatbelt harness or a designated pet carrier.
  • Window shades: Protect your dog from direct sunlight and keep the car cooler with window shades.
  • Temperature control: Ensure your car's temperature is comfortable for your dog, especially on hot days. Use air conditioning or provide adequate ventilation. NEVER leave your dog unattended in the car, ESPECIALLY a hot car.

Even on a mild 70-degree day, that's 110 degrees inside your vehicle! Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn't seem hot to you. And cracking the windows makes no difference.

  • Regular breaks: Plan for frequent rest stops to allow your dog to stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, and drink water.

Health and Well-being

  • Veterinary records: Keep copies of your dog's vaccination records and any necessary health certificates, especially if you're crossing state or international borders.
  • Emergency vet contact: Research and keep the contact information for emergency veterinary clinics along your route.
  • Health insurance: If your dog is insured, make sure you have the necessary documentation in case of emergencies.


  • Pet-friendly accommodations: Research and book pet-friendly hotels or rental properties in advance.
  • Travel crate or portable pen: If your dog is more comfortable in a crate or pen, bring it along for use in hotel rooms or at your destination.

Entertainment For the Road

  • Music or white noise: Soothe your dog with calming music or white noise to reduce stress during the journey.
  • Chew treats: Provide your dog with safe and long-lasting chew treats to keep them occupied during the drive.

Extra Travel Supplies to Keep Your Dog Comfortable

Extra Travel Supplies to Keep Your Dog Comfortable During Road Trip
  • Extra leash and collar: It's always good to have backups in case of loss or damage.
  • Grooming supplies: PRIDE+GROOM offers several convenient, waterless products that are ideal for car travel. THE MANE TAME waterless shampoo can cleanse and deodorize your dog without any water necessary. THE SWIPE wipes are perfect to keep in the car and wipe up and messes on small dogs.
  • Waterproof seat covers: Protect your car seats from dirt, fur, and accidents with a waterproof seat cover.
  • Portable water and food bowl: Have a collapsible or portable water bowl for easy hydration on the go.
  • GPS tracker: Consider using a GPS tracker to monitor your dog's location in case they wander off during stops. The Fi Collar keeps dogs safe with live tracking, and fit with daily step and activity goals. Harness the power of GPS and LTE-M Cellular network to remotely track your dog 24/7. You can use my code CHARLIE for $20 off your collar.


Whether you’re headed to the beach, lake, or a state park, a summer road trip with your furry friend is a great way to make memories that will last a lifetime. When you travel by car, the journey can be as much fun as the destination. Before you start making those sweet on-the-road memories, be sure to use our essential tips, dog travel essentials list, and careful planning to ensure an enjoyable vacation for both you and your canine best friend. With these essential tips and supplies, you and your furry friend will be well-prepared for a safe and enjoyable road trip together!