For all the automotive enthusiasts out there with a loyal dog by their side, we know you want only the best dog road trip essentials for your canine companion. Dogs are, without a doubt, the best co-pilots. Sure, they get hair and slobber all over your car, but that’s nothing a good car vacuum or carpet cleaner can’t fix. And, you can deal with that after the unforgettable road trip you’re about to have with your dog.
Though bringing your dog as your co-pilot for the Cannonball Run may not be the safest option, there are plenty of other automotive adventures that your dog will absolutely love. Whether you’re hitting the road to head to the beach in the summer or to tackle an adventurous cross-country road trip, life is simply better when traveling with a dog by your side. Below we’ve outlined seven traveling tips and ten essentials to make your next trip with your pup paw-sitively fantastic.
7 Tips For Traveling With Your Dog
Stick to a normal food schedule. If possible, try sticking to their normal food schedule, feeding them their usual food at their normal meal times. In a lot of cases, this will actually keep their stomach settled. Going to new places can be overwhelming for a dog so having some routine is helpful.
Exercise them well at the beginning of each road trip day. Being in a car can be really exciting for a pup, but it also means being confined in a small space for a LONG time. With that, giving your dog optimal exercise before and after your road trip day is vital. This will get their energy out and keep them sleepy on the road which is exactly what you want.
Make sure you have all of your dog’s medication for the road trip. The last thing you want is to be scrambling to find a vet along your route to get your dog’s forgotten medication. Pack your dog’s medication in advance. Set an alarm on your phone so you don’t forget it. And, be certain you have enough medication to last the duration of your trip.
Plan a pet-friendly route. Check along your route to see if there are any dog-friendly rest stops along the way. Along with that, make sure you book dog-friendly hotels in advance.
Take “practice trips” to ensure your dog is comfortable. Many dogs have car-induced anxiety. And some dogs can get pretty bad motion sickness. Before your long road trip, take your dog on some longer day trip drives to ensure they don’t suffer from anxiety or an upset stomach. If needed, visit your vet to get your dog anti-nausea medication before your road trip.
Bring your dog’s favorite toy or favorite blanket. Their favorite toy will keep them occupied and the familiar scent of their favorite blanket will reduce anxiety on the road and in unfamiliar places.
Never leave your dog alone in a hot car. When you’re on road trips, you will make a lot of stops. But you should never leave your dog unattended in a hot car. Make the necessary preparations in advance and have a plan for your pup. With that said, when you need to run into the gas station to buy a snack or use the restroom, your dog will be okay. Just hurry back!
The 10 Best Dog Road Trip Essentials
If you’ve come to find the items you must have when traveling with your dog, you’ve come to the right place. To have the best possible road trip, the perfect car and the perfect companion are essential. From car seat covers to a pet eraser vacuum, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find the 10 best dog road trip essentials. Along with that, we’ve answered some of your most frequently asked questions surrounding dog travel essentials.
With these dog travel essentials, your pup can truly be the top dog when you hit the road.
Water is life. Need we say more? Even though we don’t have to, we will! When it comes to traveling with a dog, convenience is key. This dog water bottle from MalsiPree is spill-proof and extremely easy to use. Instead of trying to pour a bowl full of water in a moving car and spilling water everywhere, this water bottle makes the experience mess-free and enjoyable all around. Best of all, any unused water can go right back into the water bottle.
When it comes to dog road trip essentials, keeping your pup hydrated throughout the trip is a must. Plan to stop every 2-3 hours to let your dog walk around and go to the bathroom if needed.
To use this water bottle, unlock the top by sliding the lock key. Then simply push the button. When not in use, both the small and large size fit in your car cup holders for easy storage. And if your road trip includes adventurous stops along the way, this dog water bottle is also ideal for hiking with your dog. It is important to note that this water bottle is not suitable for hot liquid, and it needs to be hand-washed.
Safety is always the #1 priority when driving. We know we should always wear seat belts. And so should your dog! Even if you don’t get everything on this list, consider a dog seat belt one of the most important dog road trip essentials.
The COOYOO dog seat belt is one of the best dog seat belts out there. Especially if your dog tends to move around a lot in the car, this nylon seatbelt will keep you and your dog safe. An anxious dog might try to jump in your lap while you are driving. Though this sounds cute, it won’t be so cute when you’re on a highway, and your pup joins you in the driver’s seat obstructing your view.
This particular dog seat belt comes in several different colors. To install it, all you have to do is strap the seatbelt clip in and hook the other side to your dog’s collar or harness. The 0.79-inch seatbelt clip is a universal fit and should be compatible with most vehicles.
The seat belt also has a 360-degree rotating hook to reduce tangles and an elastic bungee that helps lessen the strain on your dog’s collar or harness, especially in sharp turns or with sudden stops. The belt can be adjusted from 22 to 31-inches so that your dog can sit and lay comfortably even when they are strapped in.
Car seat covers are essential when it comes to traveling with a dog. They protect your car’s interior, keep the hair off of your seats, and keep you and your dogs safe.
The OKMEE 4-in-1 car set cover is incredibly versatile and can be converted to:
A hammock with side flaps — This gives your car 360-degree protection and keeps your dog in the back seat so both you and your pup stay safe on the road.
Car bench-style — This is the classic car seat protector style that keeps your entire back seat protected.
Front seat cover — Easily convert the car seat cover to cover your passenger seat because we all know that dogs are the ideal co-pilot!
Cargo liner — Especially if you are traveling with multiple dogs (and humans), keeping your dogs in the back of your SUV or crossover may be the best option. This seat cover is large enough to cover your entire cargo area.
Made of heavy-duty oxford fabric and soft PP cotton, this dog car seat cover is weatherproof, scratchproof, non-slip, and highly durable. It has four headrest buckles and two seat anchors, keeping it secure at all times during your road trip. Along with that, every purchase comes with two free dog seat belts.
If your dog sheds, you will likely want to give your car a thorough vacuum when you reach your destination. The BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser is a handheld, lithium-ion battery-powered, portable vacuum that is extremely effective. Along with that, this vacuum features triple-filter filtration and has an easy-to-remove dirt bin.
In terms of pet hair removal, the Pet Hair Eraser comes with a motorized brush tool, an upholstery tool, and a crevice tool so you can get fur out of hard-to-reach places. With these tools, you can get into every crack and crevice of your car, from the console to the middle seat.
Along with this being an ideal item to add to your list of dog road trip essentials, it would also be great to use if you need to vacuum your hotel room in a pinch. Especially if your dog tracks in any dirt, you may want to vacuum a bit to avoid additional cleaning fees.
5. ANGRY ORANGE Citrus Pet Odor Eliminator Pet Spray
Let’s face it — dogs can make your car smell bad for a multitude of reasons. That’s the price we pay for having unmatched quality time with our four-legged best friend! Luckily, this pet odor eliminator from Angry Orange removes stains and works as a deodorizer.
Made with only natural ingredients, this spray is 100% non-toxic. This means you can spray it all you want in the car without worrying it will hurt your dog. In terms of using this spray in your car, you can spray it on the carpet, upholstery, and plastic. We do not recommend using it on leather seats.
Whether your dog has an accident in the car or you simply want to freshen up your car for the long road ahead, bring this spray along to keep pet odors at bay.
Coming from Furhaven Pets, this backseat cover is an excellent option when traveling with a dog. Depending on your car’s interior and the color of your pet’s fur, you can choose from a few colors including varying shades of grey, tan/clay (pictured), or black.
The wide-coverage design allows you to use the cover hammock style or just cover the backseat. When it is hammock style, the seat cover can help keep your over-excited dog in the back of the car so you can keep driving safely.
The universal design can fit most car’s backseat and cargo areas. Be sure to measure your car before purchasing to make sure it will fit. In terms of safety, the cover buckles onto the headrests and comes with small openings for seat belts. Between uses, simply throw this in the washer and dryer, and you’ll be good to go for the next road trip!
When traveling with a dog, one of the most important dog road trip essentials is a collapsible bowl. When traveling, you will want to keep mealtimes fairly regular to help keep your dog’s routine.
However, meals will probably look a little different on the road. You may need to feed your dog in the car, in a parking lot at a restaurant, or at your hotel or overnight rental. A collapsible bowl makes mealtime extremely easy.
This bowl from Ruff Products is specifically made for dog food. It is food-safe, and heat/cold resistant, meaning you can store it in your car to keep it handy. Thanks to its size and portable design, you can even take it with you on hikes. Don’t fret about bringing heavy, clunky bowls with you on the road. Instead, bring this collapsible, durable dog bowl everywhere you go!
Along with a vehicle first aid kit and a car emergency kit, you should always keep a pet first aid kit in your car when traveling with your dog. Next to a dog seat belt, this is one of the most important dog road trip essentials.
Knowing that you have first aid items set aside specifically for Fido will make you feel prepared and protected on the road ahead. In the case of an emergency, accident, or minor injury, you can use these items to keep your dog well.
From gauze pads to tick removers to a collapsible water bowl, this 45-piece first aid kit has got it all. It even comes with a flashing LED safety collar which would be a life-saver in the event of a car accident or break down at night. The kit has a compact design making it easy to store in the console, glove box, or underneath a seat.
Dog crates made for cars are ideal when traveling with dogs for a multitude of reasons. Crates can keep an anxious dog secure and safe while on the road. It is also an option if you ever have to go into a store and your pup can’t come with you.
No tools are required to set up this crate. Simply remove it from the carrying bag, and set it up in seconds. The fabric makes this crate comfortable, well-ventilated, and highly durable. The three-door mesh openings make this ideal for use in your car because you can let your dog in and out of the crate using three different access points.
If crates are a safe space for your dog, bring this collapsible crate with you into hotels for a peaceful night’s sleep. Every purchase comes with a 2-year warranty directly from EliteField. This crate comes in several different sizes and colors. Be sure to measure your car (and your pup) to determine the best size crate for your needs.
These microfiber cloths from Mr. Siga are amazing to have on hand for any messes that might happen along the way when traveling with a dog. From dog slobber on the windows to mud on the car seats, these clothes will help you keep your beloved car clean no matter what your dog gets into.
Every pack comes with 12 individual towels. You can keep them in your glovebox, backseat, and trunk for easy access at all times. Trust us, your pup won’t be offended if you have to clean up their messes from time to time. Plus at the end of your trip, just toss the towels in the wash and use them over and over again!
Go Everywhere With Your Pup And These Dog Road Trip Essentials
We know how amazing it is to take your four-legged best friend everywhere you go. When I took my husky, Newman, on a road trip across the country and back in my Subaru Outback, having these dog road trip essentials made all the difference.
My four-legged co-pilot peacefully slept as we drove cross-country — on the Furhaven Backseat Cover, of course! I particularly like this seat cover for the tan color which makes husky hair blend in … as much as it can. And though pillows aren’t a required dog road trip essential, how can you not bring pillows if your dog is this cute? Newman didn’t protest.
And if you can’t get enough cute dogs and fast cars (who can?), we recommend following one of our favorite automotive guys, Jeff Zwart, who has the best dog companion — Jezzebel the Bernese Mountain Dog! Check out Jezzebel’s Instagram to follow along on all their driving adventures.
Need a Dog Road Trip Essentials Check List? We’ve Got You Covered.
Absolutely! When you have all the best dog road trip essentials and have planned ahead for the trip, your dog should be more than happy to road trip with you. Especially since there are so many limitations with taking dogs on planes, driving by car really is a great option. Be sure your dog is comfortable being in the car and plan all your stops in advance for bathroom breaks and exercise along the way.
How often should I stop when traveling with my dog?
We recommend stopping every 2-3 hours to let them get some fresh air and go to the bathroom if needed! Along with that, your dog may not be comfortable drinking water in a moving car. So also make sure they have the chance to hydrate during your rest stops.
What are the best places to drive with a dog?
If you have an active dog, look for routes that will take you through national forests or state or local parks that are dog-friendly. You can enjoy the scenery and your dog can enjoy getting out of the car for a hike or two with you along the way. With that said, as long as you take the necessary preparations and always make sure your dog is comfortable and safe, driving anywhere with your dog will be the best place!
How many miles can a dog travel in a day?
How many miles a dog can travel in a day varies widely from dog to dog. If your dog loves the car and is extremely comfortable, you can drive all day as long as you make frequent stops throughout the trip. Young dogs or anxious dogs may not be able to comfortably travel for as many hours on the road. Know your dog’s comfort level and plan the length of your road trip days accordingly.
What is the best dog seat belt?
We like the COOYOO adjustable pet seat belt for its ease of use and safety features.
Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.