Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

What To Give A Dog For A Long Road Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Winnah Rieger



Embarking on a road trip with your furry companion can be an incredibly rewarding and memorable experience. It allows you to explore new destinations, spend quality time together, and create unforgettable memories. However, planning a dog-friendly road trip requires careful preparation to ensure the safety, comfort, and happiness of your four-legged friend throughout the journey.


In this article, we will provide you with comprehensive tips and insights to help you plan and enjoy a successful road trip with your dog. From packing essentials to managing your dog’s anxiety, we will cover all the necessary details to ensure a smooth and enjoyable adventure for both you and your canine companion.


It’s important to note that not all dogs enjoy or adapt well to long car rides. Before embarking on a road trip, make sure your dog is comfortable and relaxed in the car. Gradually introduce them to the car environment by taking them on short drives and gradually increasing the duration. This will help your dog associate the car with positive experiences and reduce the chances of anxiety or car sickness.


Now, let’s dive into the essential tips and considerations for planning a dog-friendly road trip.


Planning for a Dog-Friendly Road Trip

Before hitting the open road with your pup, it’s crucial to carefully plan and prepare for a dog-friendly road trip. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • Choosing the right destination: Research dog-friendly destinations and attractions where your furry friend will be welcome. Look for pet-friendly accommodations, parks, and restaurants that allow dogs.
  • Veterinary check-up: Schedule a visit to the veterinarian to ensure that your dog is in good health and up to date on vaccinations. It’s also an opportunity to discuss any specific concerns or considerations for your dog’s well-being during travel.
  • Identification and microchipping: Ensure that your dog is wearing a collar with an up-to-date ID tag containing your contact information. Consider microchipping your dog as an added precaution in case they become lost during the trip.
  • Travel documentation: If you’re crossing borders or traveling internationally, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork, including health certificates and vaccination records, to comply with the requirements of the destination country or state.
  • Plan the route: Plot your travel route in advance, taking into consideration rest stops, dog-friendly parks, and pet-friendly accommodations along the way. Aim for shorter driving hours each day to allow your furry friend ample time to stretch their legs and take bathroom breaks.
  • Packing essentials: Pack essential items for your dog including food, water, bowls, leash, waste bags, a comfortable pet bed or blanket, toys, and any necessary medications. Don’t forget to bring a first aid kit specifically designed for dogs.

By meticulously planning and preparing for your road trip, you’ll be able to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry friend. Now, let’s move on to the next step: packing essentials for your dog.


Packing Essentials for Your Dog

When embarking on a road trip with your dog, packing the right essentials is crucial to ensure their comfort and well-being throughout the journey. Here are some essential items you should include in your dog’s travel kit:

  • Food and water: Pack enough of your dog’s regular food to last the duration of the trip. It’s best to stick to their usual diet to avoid any digestive issues. Remember to bring portable food and water bowls for convenience.
  • Leash and collar with ID: Ensure your dog has a sturdy leash and a collar with a visible ID tag. This will help keep them secure and provide identification if they happen to wander off.
  • Microfiber towels and wet wipes: Accidents happen, so it’s essential to have microfiber towels and wet wipes handy to clean up any messes or wipe down your dog’s paws after outdoor activities.
  • Comfortable bedding: Pack a cozy dog bed or a familiar blanket to provide your dog with a comfortable spot to rest during stops or at your accommodations.
  • Medication and first aid kit: If your dog requires any medications, make sure to bring an ample supply. Additionally, assemble a first aid kit that includes items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers for any unexpected injuries or accidents.
  • Toys and chew treats: Bring some of your dog’s favorite toys to keep them entertained during the journey. Chew treats can also help alleviate stress and boredom.
  • Poop bags and waste disposal: Ensure you have an adequate supply of poop bags for quick and easy waste disposal during bathroom breaks.
  • Travel crates or seat belts: If your dog prefers to travel in a crate, make sure to bring a portable and secure crate that fits comfortably in your vehicle. Alternatively, consider using a safety harness or seat belt designed for dogs to secure them during the journey.

Don’t forget to pack any specific items that your dog may require, such as grooming tools, flea and tick prevention, or any comforting items that help reduce anxiety. By packing these essentials, you’ll be well-prepared to ensure your dog’s comfort and happiness on the road ahead.


Next, we’ll discuss how to choose the right food for your dog during the road trip.


Choosing the Right Food for the Road

When planning a road trip with your dog, it’s important to consider their dietary needs and choose the right food to maintain their health and well-being while on the go. Here are some tips to help you make the best food choices for your furry friend:

  • Pack their regular food: Stick to your dog’s regular diet and pack enough of their usual food for the duration of the trip. Sudden changes in diet can lead to digestive upset, so it’s best to maintain consistency.
  • Pre-portion meals: Before leaving, pre-portion your dog’s meals into individual servings to make feeding easier and more convenient during the trip. This will also help prevent overfeeding.
  • Consider freeze-dried or dehydrated options: Freeze-dried or dehydrated dog food can be a convenient alternative for traveling. They are lightweight, have a long shelf life, and can be easily rehydrated with water.
  • Bring portable food containers: Store your dog’s food in airtight containers to keep it fresh and prevent spillage. Consider collapsible food bowls for easy feeding on the go.
  • Mind the water source: If you’re unsure about the quality of the water at your destination, bring enough bottled water for your dog to stay hydrated. Sudden changes in water can also cause stomach upset.
  • Avoid feeding during car rides: To prevent car sickness, avoid feeding your dog a large meal right before or during car rides. Instead, feed them a few hours prior to departure or wait until you’ve reached your destination.
  • Monitor portion sizes: Keep an eye on your dog’s portion sizes, as they may require more or less food depending on the activity level during the road trip. Adjust the portions accordingly to prevent overfeeding or undernourishment.

If you’re unsure about the best food options for your dog during the trip, consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice and recommendations. By choosing the right food and maintaining a consistent feeding routine, you’ll help ensure your dog stays happy and healthy throughout the road trip.


Next, we’ll discuss essential hydration solutions for your dog during long trips.


Hydration Solutions for Dogs on Long Trips

Proper hydration is crucial for your dog’s health and well-being during a long road trip. Here are some important hydration solutions to keep your furry friend hydrated and happy:

  • Bring an ample supply of water: Ensure you have enough clean drinking water for your dog throughout the journey. Pack fresh water in a spill-proof container and offer it to your dog during regular breaks.
  • Portable water bowls: Invest in collapsible or portable water bowls that are easy to carry and use on the go. These bowls make it convenient to give your dog water during rest stops.
  • Consider a travel water dispenser: If you anticipate being on the road for an extended period without access to fresh water, a travel water dispenser with a built-in water reservoir can be a great option to ensure your dog stays hydrated.
  • Offer water at regular intervals: Make it a point to offer water to your dog during each rest stop. Encourage them to drink and monitor their water intake to ensure they stay adequately hydrated.
  • Be mindful of heat: If you’re traveling in hot weather, it’s important to take extra precautions to keep your dog cool and hydrated. Provide shaded areas and offer water more frequently to prevent dehydration.
  • Monitor for signs of dehydration: Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration, including excessive panting, dry gums, loss of skin elasticity, or lethargy. If you notice these symptoms, seek shade, offer water, and consider contacting a veterinarian.
  • Introduce water gradually: If your dog is not used to drinking from a portable water bowl or dispenser, introduce it to them gradually before the trip to ensure they are comfortable with the new drinking setup.

Remember, providing your dog with access to fresh water and monitoring their hydration levels during the road trip is essential for their overall well-being. By being proactive in offering water and paying attention to their hydration needs, you’ll help ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for your furry friend.


Next, we’ll discuss comfort and safety tips to keep your traveling dog happy during the journey.


Comfort and Safety Tips for Traveling Dogs

Ensuring the comfort and safety of your furry companion is paramount when embarking on a road trip. Here are some essential tips to keep your traveling dog comfortable and secure throughout the journey:

  • Secure your dog: It’s important to keep your dog properly secured in the vehicle to prevent accidents and injuries. Use a crate, travel carrier, or a specially designed dog seat belt or harness to restrain your dog safely.
  • Create a cozy space: Set up a comfortable and safe area for your dog in the car. Use familiar bedding or a travel-friendly dog bed to provide them with a cozy spot to rest during the journey.
  • Avoid leaving your dog unattended: Never leave your dog alone in a parked car, especially during hot weather. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise quickly, leading to heatstroke and severe health risks.
  • Provide ventilation: Ensure adequate airflow in the car by cracking windows or using a properly fitted window vent or mesh barrier. This allows fresh air to circulate while keeping your dog safely inside the vehicle.
  • Don’t let your dog hang out of the window: While it may be tempting to allow your dog to stick their head out of the window, it can be dangerous. Flying debris or sudden movements can cause injury, so it’s best to keep windows closed or use protective window screens.
  • Comfort breaks: Plan regular stops to allow your dog to stretch their legs, have a bathroom break, and get some exercise. This will help alleviate restlessness and reduce the likelihood of accidents or discomfort.
  • Temperature control: Be mindful of extreme temperatures in the car. During hot weather, use sunshades and park in shaded areas. In cold weather, ensure adequate warmth by using blankets or jackets for your dog.
  • Minimize noise and distractions: Loud music, excessive honking, or other distractions can cause stress and anxiety for your traveling dog. Keep the environment calm and soothing to help them feel more relaxed.
  • Keep ID and contact information handy: Have your dog’s ID tag and contact information easily accessible in case of emergencies. Consider having a recent photo of your dog as well, in case they wander off.

By following these comfort and safety tips, you’ll help ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey, while prioritizing your dog’s well-being. Remember that their comfort and safety should always be at the forefront of your planning process.


Next, we’ll discuss how to manage your dog’s anxiety during the road trip.


Managing Your Dog’s Anxiety during the Journey

For many dogs, traveling in a car can cause anxiety and stress. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can implement to help manage your dog’s anxiety and make the journey more comfortable for them:

  • Create a calming environment: Make the car a soothing and familiar space for your dog. Use their favorite bedding or bring along a familiar-smelling item to provide comfort.
  • Consider anxiety-reducing products: There are various products available to help alleviate anxiety, such as pheromone sprays, calming supplements, or anxiety wraps. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if any of these options are suitable for your dog.
  • Play calming music: Soft, calming music can have a relaxing effect on dogs. Consider playing classical music or specially designed calming playlists to help alleviate anxiety during the journey.
  • Take frequent breaks: Regular breaks not only provide physical relief but also help reduce anxiety. Allow your dog to stretch their legs, have a bathroom break, and explore their surroundings to ease any built-up tension.
  • Gradual desensitization: If your dog experiences severe anxiety during car rides, consider a gradual desensitization process. Start with short, low-stress car rides, and gradually increase the duration and distance over time to help your dog become more accustomed to the experience.
  • Positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward your dog for calm behavior during the journey. Offer treats, praise, and affection when they exhibit relaxed behavior, reinforcing positive associations with car rides.
  • Avoid feeding before travel: Feeding your dog a large meal right before or during the journey can increase the likelihood of motion sickness and discomfort. Instead, feed your dog a few hours before departure or wait until you’ve reached your destination.
  • Consult with a professional: If your dog’s anxiety persists or is severe, consider seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can provide personalized strategies to help manage your dog’s anxiety during travel.

It’s important to remember that each dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Be patient and understanding with your dog’s anxiety, and adjust your approach as needed to help them feel more relaxed on the journey.


Up next, we’ll discuss the importance of taking regular breaks for exercise and bathroom needs.


Taking Regular Breaks: Exercise and Bathroom Needs

During a road trip, it’s essential to prioritize your dog’s exercise and bathroom needs by taking regular breaks. Here’s why it’s important and how to ensure your furry friend gets the necessary physical activity and bathroom breaks:




Like humans, dogs need regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Being cooped up in a car for extended periods can lead to restlessness and pent-up energy. When planning your road trip, factor in breaks for exercise to allow your dog to stretch their legs, burn off excess energy, and engage in physical activity. Look for dog-friendly parks, open spaces, or hiking trails along your route where your dog can enjoy a good run or play. This will not only help keep them physically fit but also mentally stimulated.


Bathroom Breaks:


Just like humans, dogs need regular bathroom breaks. It’s crucial to stop at designated rest areas or pet-friendly locations where your dog can relieve themselves. Aim for stops every 2-3 hours or whenever you notice signs that your dog needs to go. Be sure to have waste bags on hand to clean up after your dog and leave the area clean. Additionally, offer your dog plenty of fresh water during bathroom breaks to stay hydrated.


Taking regular breaks for exercise and bathroom needs not only meets your dog’s physical requirements but also provides mental stimulation and promotes overall well-being. It also allows your dog to explore new environments and enjoy some time outside of the car.


Next, we’ll discuss how to entertain and stimulate your dog during a road trip.


Entertaining and Stimulating Your Dog on a Road Trip

Keeping your dog entertained and mentally stimulated is crucial during a road trip to prevent boredom and restlessness. Here are some ways you can engage and entertain your furry friend:

  • Pack interactive toys: Bring a variety of interactive toys that can keep your dog engaged and entertained. Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, and chew toys can provide mental stimulation and keep them occupied during the journey.
  • Play interactive games: Take breaks from driving and engage in interactive games with your dog. Play a game of fetch, hide and seek, or “find the treat” to keep their mind stimulated and provide a physical outlet for their energy.
  • Provide window views: Allow your dog to observe the passing scenery by providing a safe and secure window view. Dogs are often intrigued by the sights and sounds outside, which can help keep them entertained during the journey.
  • Play calming music or audiobooks: Playing calming music or audiobooks can have a soothing effect on dogs and help create a relaxing environment during the trip. Look for specially curated playlists or audiobooks designed for dogs.
  • Rotate toys and activities: Introduce new toys or activities throughout the trip to keep things fresh and exciting for your dog. Rotate their toys or introduce new games to prevent boredom and provide mental stimulation.
  • Give them attention and affection: Dogs thrive on attention and affection from their humans. Take breaks to give them some one-on-one time, whether it’s cuddling, petting, or simply talking to them in a soothing voice.
  • Train and reinforce commands: Use the road trip as an opportunity to reinforce your dog’s training and practice obedience commands. This mental stimulation can help keep their minds engaged and provide a sense of accomplishment.

Remember, safety should be a priority while engaging with your dog during the journey. Avoid any activities that could distract you from driving or compromise the safety of your dog and other passengers in the vehicle.


By providing entertainment and mental stimulation for your dog, you’ll help make the road trip a fun and engaging experience for both of you.


Next, we’ll discuss best practices for ensuring dog car safety during the road trip.


Best Practices for Dog Car Safety

Ensuring the safety of your dog during a road trip is of utmost importance. Implementing proper safety measures will not only protect your furry friend but also help ensure a smooth and worry-free journey. Here are some crucial best practices for dog car safety:

  • Use proper restraints: Keep your dog secure in the car by using a crate, travel carrier, or a dog-specific seat belt or harness. These restraints will prevent your dog from roaming freely in the vehicle and decrease the risk of injury in the event of sudden stops or accidents.
  • Secure crate or carrier: If using a crate or carrier, ensure that it is properly secured in the car to prevent it from shifting during the journey. Use seat belts or straps to secure it in place and reduce the risk of injury caused by an unsecured crate.
  • Avoid letting your dog ride in the front seat: The back seat is the safest place for your dog to ride. Airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for dogs, and they may also become a distraction to the driver.
  • Never leave your dog alone in the car: Leaving your dog unattended in a parked car can be extremely dangerous, even for a short period. Dogs can quickly overheat or suffer from anxiety, putting their health and safety at risk.
  • Use window barriers: Consider using window barriers or mesh screens to prevent your dog from sticking their head out of the window. This will protect them from debris and potential injuries.
  • Buckle up or restrain during breaks: Even during rest stops, it’s important to keep your dog restrained or securely leashed to prevent them from darting out of the car or getting into potentially dangerous situations.
  • Keep harmful items out of reach: Ensure that toxic substances, sharp objects, and any potentially harmful items are securely stored away from your dog’s reach. This will prevent accidents or ingestion of harmful substances.
  • Do not let your dog ride in the open truck bed: Riding in the open truck bed is unsafe for dogs. They can easily fall off or be exposed to flying debris, which can lead to serious injury or accidents.

By following these best practices for dog car safety, you can mitigate potential risks and ensure the well-being of your furry friend throughout the road trip.


Finally, we’ll conclude the article with a summary of the key takeaways.



Embarking on a road trip with your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and consideration to ensure their safety, comfort, and overall well-being. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you’ll be well-prepared to make your dog-friendly road trip a success.


From choosing the right destination and packing essential items to managing your dog’s anxiety and providing regular exercise and bathroom breaks, each step plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry companion.


Additionally, strategies such as selecting the appropriate food and hydration solutions, providing comfort and safety measures, and keeping your dog entertained and mentally stimulated will create a positive and stress-free travel experience for your dog.


Remember, safety should always be a priority during the road trip. Utilize proper restraints, secure crates or carriers, and avoid leaving your dog alone in the car. Implementing these safety measures will help protect your dog in case of sudden stops or accidents.


Ultimately, the key to a successful road trip with your dog is to plan ahead, be prepared, and be attentive to their needs throughout the journey. With proper planning, ample breaks, and lots of love and attention, you and your furry friend can create cherished memories together on the open road.


So, pack your bags, buckle up, and get ready for an adventure-filled road trip with your beloved canine companion!