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15 Essential Tips for How to Travel with a Dog in a Car or RV

tips for traveling with dogs by car or rv

Whether you’re a weekend get-away kind of family or world travelers, you know it can be a painful situation if you have a dog. Often folks are forced to leave their pets in kennels or boarding facilities while they travel because they don’t think their plans can accommodate the family dog. 

Taking your pet along on your travels is possible and can be enjoyable. To ensure things go well, BarxBuddy has 15 tips for traveling with a dog.

#1. Get Your Dog Comfortable in the Car

Include your dog in short car rides around town before you embark on a long road trip. Ensure your trips don’t all end up at the veterinarian’s office, or your pet may be apprehensive any time he gets in the car.

#2. Take Your Pet to the Vet for a Health Check

Before you travel with your dog on any excursion, you should take her to the vet for a health check. The last thing you want is your dog to be sick while you’re on the road. Be sure she’s up to date with her vaccinations and flea/tick treatments. If your pet requires routine meds, make sure they come with you when traveling. 

#3. Make Sure Your Dog Has Proper Identification

When you travel with a dog, you always run the risk that they could wander off and get lost. To increase your odds of finding them, they should have some form of identification such as a microchip or at least a strong collar and leash with an I.D. tag that contains:

  • Dog’s name
  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Proof of rabies shots

Bring a recent photo along with his health records showing his current vaccinations. 

#4. Program Your Phone with Emergency Numbers.

The best way to travel with a dog (and humans, really!) is to be prepared for an emergency. Document your vet’s info along with 24-hour veterinary emergency hospitals local to your travels on your mobile phone or travel journal. That way, if your dog runs into something unfamiliar — say, plants or animals that are foreign to them — you’ve got a plan.  

#5. Pack Your Dog’s Food and Bottled Water

If you’re traveling with a dog in a car or other motor vehicle, you must bring plenty of your dog’s favorite food and bottled water to keep him healthy along your journey. This is not the time you want a dog with an upset stomach. Feed them what they’re used to eating. 

If your dog eats wet food, you’ll need to keep it in its original packaging or keep it cool in an ice chest. Portable, collapsible water and food bowls are ideal when you travel. Thanks to their silicone material, the bowls collapse when done and are easy to clean.

  • Measure meal portions in individual storage bags to make it easy to store and serve.
  • Bonus tip: Save used storage bags for poop cleanup.
  • To lighten your travel load, map out pet stores that carry your brand so you can stop and shop along your journey. 

#6. Bring Your Dog’s Favorite Toys, Blanket, and Bed

Traveling with a dog is a lot like traveling with kids. They need some kind of entertainment while on a road trip. This is especially true if you’re traveling cross country. Bring his favorite toys to help keep him occupied while in the vehicle and for well-needed exercise when you stop to take breaks. His blanket and bed will help him stay comfortable and less anxious about your adventures.

#7. Pack a Few Other Dog Necessities

You may want to bring along a few other provisions for your pet if you plan on traveling for any length of time. 

#8. Find Pet-Friendly Accommodations

If you’re traveling with your dog, no matter your accommodations, whether it be a hotel or campground, it’s essential you find lodging that allows dogs and your pet meets their size or breed specifications. Many of the major travel sites (Kayak, Trivago, Expedia) offer search filters for travelers with pets; however, we like BringFido.com, because it’s all about dogs … plus we like the name. 

#9. Keep Your Dog Safe with a Crate

One of the safest ways to travel with a dog in a car is in a crate that’s anchored with a seatbelt. In addition to providing your dog a place to rest in the car, it’ll keep him safe and out of trouble.

#10. Stop Frequently for Potty Breaks and Exercise

Both humans and dogs need to get out and stretch during long car rides. Take the opportunity to let your pet go to the bathroom and get some playtime. Be sure to provide fresh water and clean up messes. BringFido’s mobile app can direct you to dog-friendly rest stops, dog parks, and other attractions that welcome dogs.

#11. Teach Your Children to Be Kind to Your Dog While in the Car

Kids can get pretty bored quickly when they are in a car for long periods. If you’re traveling with a dog and kids, teach your children to help your pet feel safe and calm while in the car or RV.

#12. Keep Your Dog in the Back Seat

Keep your dog safe in the back seat. If the vehicle’s airbag deploys, it could injure your pet if he’s sitting in the front passenger seat.

#13. Share Driving to Share Time With Your Dog

If possible, alternate driving responsibilities so each of you can spend time with your pet in the back seat. This can help keep him calm during your travels.

#14. Keep Your Vehicle Well Ventilated

Be sure that your car or motor vehicle is well ventilated for you and your pet. If you park and leave the dog in the RV or car, make sure they have fresh air. Crack a window and park in the shade. 

#15. Never Leave Your Pet Unattended in a Closed Vehicle

This is especially true during extreme temperatures, both cold and hot. A general rule of thumb is never to leave a dog in a car if the outside temperature is below freezing or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, temperatures inside vehicles can increase 20 degrees within 10 minutes, 30 degrees within 20 minutes, and 40 degrees within an hour. So, a 70-degree day might seem cool to you, but in a closed-up car on a sunny day, your car could heat up to over 100 degrees. 

Best practice: Don’t leave your dog unattended in a vehicle.