What Goes In A Travel Bag For My Dog

A puppy on a sandy beach

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 If any address or number is out of date, get a new one before you leave.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.

6 Responses to “What Goes In A Travel Bag For My Dog”

  1. bellamae says:

    I travel a lot with my dogs - currently 5. In addition to the treats, toys, food, etc., I like to keep a supply of paper cups in the car. just right for emergency water bowls or food bowls. also a couple of flat sheets (handy sun shades and protector of seats).

  2. Elaine Vigneault says:

    Sounds about right.

    I’d also recommend getting your dog microchipped before a trip if you haven’t already. It will help if your dog goes missing or if he’s dognapped, to prove custody.

    Also, for warm, Summer months or plane rides a chilling neck wrap can help keep your pooch cool. They make these cool neck wraps that you soak in water for five minutes and they poof up. You wrap it around your dog’s neck and cools his jugular, thus keeping his body temperature slightly lower. (They make them for humans, too, by the way).

    And, for long trips, it’s a good idea to bring along copies of your dog’s vaccines (as well as your own).

  3. Mike says:

    For overnight trips by car, we bring our dog’s bed. (Although many pet-friendly hotels and B&B’s provide dog beds, our dog is more comfortable on his own bed from home).

    We also bring a baby gate, just in case we have to block off part of the room.

    For convenience, we pre portion his kibble into ziplock bags labeled Monday Breakfast, Monday Dinner, etc. This makes it easier to keep track of what he’s eaten (especially if he doesn’t finish a meal). As you suggested, we have extra portion bags which we take with us in the car, just in case we are out longer than expected.

    We also carry a couple peanut butter packages (like the ones that some hotels have at their breakfast buffets) as a tasty treat. This was suggested to us by one Hampton Inn employee.

    We bring an extra snap collar which we use to attach his leash to our chair if we are eating outside. This allows us to keep both hands free while we eat.

    For safety, we bring a flashlight. This is also a favorite toy for our dog, as he likes to chase the light.

  4. straybaby says:

    do any of you carry first aid kits for your pets? I have one for the home/evacuation supplies. don’t drive, but if i did, i would keep one in the car.

  5. Captn' Carl says:

    Straybaby is right. A first aid kit for pets is a must. You never know what level if any professional medical assistance is available for you pet should it become necessary.

    Of course any medications your pet is on are obviously included.

    I always take a pet first aid kit when we travel. In it I have first and most importantly: Childrens benadryl with a small syringe for oral administration, this is the best first aid for bee stings, allergy attacks etc.

    Instant cold packs, rolled bandages and tongue depressers (can make excellent temporary splints if necessary, A Magnifying glass and tweezers, Isopropyl Alcohol and alcohol swabs. 4X4 Gauze pads for application of non internal medications. alcohol, cleaning, etc.

    Aloe Vera for possible burns, Neosporin, a small bottle of visine in case of problems and the eyes need to be flushed, a bottle of sterile water for wound irrigation if necessary, some activated charcoal in case of possible ingestion of toxic substance, and a first aid book for pets.

    NEVER give your pets Aspirin, Ibuprofin or any medication meant for humans. The dosage and composition could kill them.

    I am sure there could be much more added to a pet first aid kit, but the above components minus the book of course will all fit into a small zippered and compartmented bag available almost anywhere.

  6. Katie says:

    I travel a lot with my dogs also. If you are traveling across country you can get a health certificate from your vet, saying your animal is healthy with no known problems, will also list vaccinations, when given, product used, etc.

    Having been involved in a car accident with my dogs(fortunately only 2 miles from home) I would recommend that within your car, where emergency personel would see it, you carry a 4×5 card on which: dogs name, how they are with strangers, medical problems, contact info.( to include vet, and your lawyer - if your will provides for your pet), rescue org. that you might want called to take your pet, food fed, your address and phone #, any special info about your pets habits,I’m sure there are more things, I’m forgetting to list.

    We take water from home, or buy bottled water along the way to prevent stomach upset.

    In our first aid kit we also include something for doggie stool problems.


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