We recently went on a long 3-day road trip and brought along our mutt — as we usually do. To ensure his safety and comfort, we usually pack the dog’s travel bag first and go through a checklist. We wanted to share with you our little tips and tricks. Our focus is on safety, then we add lots of the comforts of home. Properly preparing for the road helps you avoid expensive emergencies. Here’s the checklist we use to pack for our dog and our reasons why.
For our dog’s safety:
- A lightweight back up leash.
Yup, we’ve either lost or broken leashes before. Take a lightweight leash with you as a back. You’ll thank us when it happens.
- Ensure that his name and address tag is securely on his collar.
Over time, some metal rings can get lose. Make sure you check your dog’s identification. If any address or number is out of date, get a new one before you leave. We like putting our address on our dog’s tag because if he gets lost on the road, it’s likely that animal officials will give him a break even if he doesn’t meet all the regulations of that particular county.
- Keep your veterinarian’s phone number in the bag at all time.
You may have a hard time finding a vet in a new or remote location. Having your vet’s number isn’t just a cost-effective lifeline, but it’s a connection to your pet’s health records. We keep it in the bag so that even if I lose my phone, we still have the number. If your pet isn’t healthy enough to go, please don’t take them with you.
- Sunshade for your car.
There may be times where you’re required to step out of the car without your dog. Make sure you park the car and leave the windows down on all sides of the car for proper cross ventilation. If you can’t find proper shade, the windshield sunshade can keep your pet comfortable. Remember, even if it’s cool outside, the sun can quickly turn your car into a greenhouse. There are plenty of small, lightweight sunshades available.
- Ticks, fleas and sunscreen.
Medication or spray, take it with you. And yup, pets do get sunburned especially if they have lots of exposed skin. You can get sunblock for pets at your local pet supply store.
- Vaccination tag and paperwork.
This must be current. Or else the only place your dog should be going is to the vet. Make sure his paperwork won’t get wet on the road.
- Emergency bottle of water.
We keep one in his bag just in case we run out of water. We don’t touch this bottle unless it’s an emergency and use a fresh one on every trip.
For our dog’s comfort and our convenience:
- Two separate sealed bags of food.
Why multiple bags? The first bag is the normal amount of food our dog should be eating while on the road. Knowing how much (or little) he’s eaten gives us hints about his mental and physical state. The second bag is the just-in-case bag. Our dog may eat more or we may be stuck on the road longer. It doesn’t add that much to your load to pack a few more days worth of food.
- Moist baby wipes in resealable container.
Do I need to explain the billion uses for these?
- 2 nested plastic bowls.
We prefer the rigid bowls over the collapsible ones. They are more stable on uneven surfaces such as the outdoors and just as light. They’re the same ones we use at home, just so that he feels more comfortable. It’s also easier for the pet to drink while the car is still moving.
- His or her favorite blanket.
Little reminders of home can decrease their stress level. You can use it in the car to cover hard corners or other uncomfortable surfaces. During cold nights, this reduces the chance your dog will steal your blanket.
- Plastic bags. Lots of them.
Because they love to poop when you don’t think they will. You can’t have enough. We stuff them in our car, the bag, in the trunk, pants, anyplace we can find so that they are in easy reach.
- A long-lasting toy or treat.
This helps them distract themselves from any scary or stressful situations.
…and a big smile for all those family photos.