Prepare & Pack in Advance
To ensure a safe road trip for you and your dog, prepare in advance. Have you put together a doggie first aid kit, or at least gathered emergency numbers in case something happens? Do you have enough dog food to get you through your trip? More importantly- do you have enough water? What about doggie bags?
Make sure you remember to pack a leash for any pit stops that will need to be made!
- Water is about the single most important thing you can have for a dog, especially if your dog is in the heat. Even with opened windows, older model cars without air conditioning can get to be around 10-20 degrees hotter than the outside environment.
- Fabric travel- water bowls can be purchased for down to $1 at some stores; consider investing in one!
Update Vaccinations & Paperwork
Especially if you are planning on flying rather than driving, paperwork is extremely important! For the mere sake of health, always make sure your dog is vaccinated. Most vaccines are recommended to highly suggested; there are many disorders that can kill a dog if contracted. You never know if the other animals you will be encountering were properly vaccinated.
There is only one vaccine legally mandated- that is Rabies. Why, you ask? Because this one is so bad, suspected animal carriers are promptly destroyed; veterinarians don’t (according to Federal law) even bother to treat this in pets. Having around a 10-14 day incubation period, the Rabies virus infects a subject’s nervous system, eating away until they become the real life version of a mindless zombie. Before death, that is; Rabies is 100% fatal in untreated patients.
- The first human un-vaccinated survivor needed to be placed into a medically induced coma to stop the spread of the virus while doctors fought to save her life; an unprecedented attempt for the time. She hasn’t fully recovered to this day, 13 years later.
- Bats are the largest carrier of Rabies in the United States. Be wary if your travels take you near areas where the animal frequents.
Upon discovery, an infected dog or cat’s head is removed, bagged, and sent to a laboratory for testing. No owner wants to go through that; please make sure your pet is up to date.
Plan Your Route
Make sure you are able to offer your pup frequent potty breaks. How many rest stops are there along your mapped route? Do they offer ‘dog runs’ (many rest stops do)? Have you considered stopping at dog parks on the way? No one likes getting lost on lengthy road trips, especially when they are responsible for others (family, kids, and pets). Be sure your directions are sound ahead of time!
Dog Proof your Vehicle
Have you made sure your pup is properly secure in case of an accident? ‘Doggy’ restraints are now available! At least- try not to let your dog sit on your lap while you drive. Not only will your furry lap buddy add an extra distraction while you drive, he very likely wouldn’t survive air bag deployment (such is the speed/force with which they deploy). If you are driving an old vehicle without air bags at all, or worse- with a metal steering column not made to collapse like current models, your pooch would be crushed.
Have you considered doggy seat covers? They make cleaning a breeze, and you will no longer need to worry about muddy prints or loose hair!