Skip to content

13 Ultimate Essentials For the Best Road Trip with Your Dog

Have you been itching to take a road trip? Heading out on the open road has gotten more popular than ever. But traveling with dogs, while priceless, can also be a challenge. Dogs can get restless in a moving vehicle and behave in unsafe ways, like jumping over the seat and into your lap. 

So to make sure you and your fur baby have a safe and happy trip, don’t leave home without these road trip essentials for traveling with your dog. 

This site may contain affiliate links, which give us a small commission if you make a purchase. There is no additional cost to you in using them. We are grateful for the support we receive through your use of these links, which allows us to keep creating quality videos and posts to share with you. Thank you!

Pay A Visit To Your Vet Before Planning A Road Trip

The first consideration should be whether or not your pet is healthy enough to travel. The only way to know for sure is to check in with your veterinarian. If there are any existing conditions, find out how a road trip might affect your dog. Make sure all vaccines, flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives are up to date, as well as your pup’s tags and/or I.D. chip, and stock up on any ongoing prescriptions they might already be using. It’s also a great time to ask about any stress-reducing or anti-nausea aids that might be helpful for the trip, and if possible, get a copy of your dog’s vet records to keep on hand.

Plan A Pet-Friendly Route For Your Road Trip

a woman sits in the back of a car with a dog
Photo by Halie West on Unsplash

A big part of being a pet-parent is planning around their needs, and it’s even more important while traveling with your dog. This includes making extra stops to “take care of business,” hydrate, exercise, and play. Check to make sure your route has plenty of safe places to stop, stretch their legs, and reboot for a few. Most major rest areas have dog-friendly areas to accommodate all of these needs.

Road Trip Essentials For Traveling With Your Dog

1. A Pet Hammock Will Save Your Car Seat 

Not only do these pet hammocks protect your back seat from shedding, accidents, and drool, they protect your pup from falling onto the floor and also make it more difficult for them to jump over into the front seat. We’ve been using this one for years and find it to be of great quality and value! 

2. Bring Plenty Of Dog Food And Water On Your Road Trip 

It’s not likely you’ll forget this basic essential, but be sure to bring enough food and water for the entire trip. If you’re a new dog-owner, or just looking for a change in your dog food, we feed our pups this quality kibble by Canidae. And if you need something to keep all that food and accoutrements in, this travel dog food bag is great. It has a thirty-cup capacity which holds up to ten pounds of food. There’s a storage pocket for essentials like meds and a couple of toys, and it has a clever poop-bag dispenser built right in! You can also fit a bowl or two in the main section, along with the food. If you get some collapsible bowls, you’ll fit two no problem. See below!

3. Collapsible Food And Water Bowls 

About those collapsible bowls. They’re brilliant, and there’s quite the variety out there since back when we first purchased something like the ones above ourselves. Choose whichever type suits your needs best, but any variety will be clutch in your space-saving game. We like the soft variety. many also have an adjustable drawstring in case you want to pre-fill it with kibble to throw in a backpack for a hike.

4. Reward Your Pupper’s Good Travel Behavior With Dog Treats

Plenty of ’em. Because let’s face it… “who’s a good boy and/or girl???” There’s a sea of treats on the market to choose from, and every dog’s dietary needs, potential allergies, and preferences are different. Greenies are a great choice for not only keeping your pup’s chompers clean, but also keeping their mind occupied on a long drive. For snack-y treats these are a great chewy option, and these are more crunch-worthy.

5. A Dog Crate Might Be The Best Option For Your Dog

Some dogs quite like and feel more secure in a crate, while some have extra anxiety. In either case, a crate is a great option to make your pup feel more safe and secure. There are plenty of options to choose from, but here are a couple: The first is a large, hard shell dog crate, and the second is a folding soft dog crate. Most of each type come in a variety of sizes, and there are other styles out there as well. 

6. Thundershirt Is An Economical And Non-Medicinal Way To Calm A Nervous Dog

If your poor pup has anxiety, a Thundershirt can ease their stress to a more manageable level. Our boy is always really happy to have his put on him. Even though he’s still got some ants in his pants once he’s sporting it, he becomes noticeably calmer. Not to mention, he looks pretty handsome in it, and it can double as a sweater in colder weather, too.

HOT TIP: Make sure your windows are locked at all times. A fidgety pup can, and often will, step on that button and accidentally roll down their own window. It’s usually harmlessly funny, ‘cuz it looks like they’re doing it on purpose, but it can also be very dangerous. Lock those doors, too!

7. Carry Photos Of Your Pet In Case Of Separation

This one should be easy, as surely you’ve got thousands in your phone’s camera roll already! But the point is to have something to show people if you and your nugget get separated. 

8. A Pet First Aid Kit Should Be On Every Road Trip With Dogs

You can buy a pre-assembled pet first aid kit like this one and not have to think about it. Or if you like, you can go DIY and put together some basics yourself, such as:

  • Hydrogen peroxide – for inducing vomiting if necessary and great for de-skunking, but is not recommended for open wounds. Always consult a vet first!
  • Cotton pads and swabs
  • Gauze dressing
  • Self-adhering elastic bandage
  • Tweezers – for splinters, ticks, or other owies
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment

9. Don’t Forget Your Towels

Traveling with dogs can get messy, and there’s pretty much always a different reason you’ll find yourself needing a towel. These microfiber pet bath towels are a great choice and perfect for travel. They’re easy to carry and can also be used as a blanket on your pup’s bed or seat.

10. Pet Grooming Wipes Are Essential For Any Road Trip

Traveling with dogs can also get funky. Some grooming wipes will be a quick solution to help keep your pup, and the interior of your car, so fresh and so clean. These hypoallergenic pet wipes are plant-based (bamboo fiber!), earth-friendly and deodorizing, A solid choice for your pup, and the planet!

11. Keep Your Dog’s Trip Fun With Some Toys 

Keep things fun and your pup feeling as at-home as possible. Bring a couple of their favorite toys along. A classic Kong is always a great, durable choice if your dog’s a chewer. Same goes for these hemp rope dog toys. they’re awesome for cleaning teeth and for teething puppies. Or if your dog is not into toys, bring any of your “comfort items” from home, like one of your tee shirts with your scent on it. 

12. Bring An Extra Leash On Your Road Trip

Things get lost or broken, and this is an important item. Bring backup! Again, there are tons of them available in every shape, size, and color, but here’s a pretty straight forward leash to get you started. It’s got a padded handle, too, and you don’t have to get it in hot pink… unless you want to. Then go on with your sassy self! 

13. Well, Poop! Don’t Forget The Bags

Last but not least. Don’t leave home without your poop-bags. Because, you’re not one of those people, right? Here are some eco-friendly dog poop-bags for ya. They’re made with a corn starch blend and are packaged with recycled materials. Pop a roll into that handy food bag we told you about above, and you’re good to go!

To sum up, traveling with dogs can come with its own set of difficulties, but preparation is your best bet. Be it a road trip or otherwise, it will make it easier to spend more time bonding with your best friend and less time stressing. 

And if you’re considering visiting some of the many U.S. national parks during your road trip, we’ve got firsthand knowledge on the matter! There’s a lot we didn’t know until we needed to, and man, are we glad we did the research before visiting. Be sure to check out Traveling With Dogs to National Parks vs. National Forests so you know before you go!

Now that you’ve done some thinking on it, what else is on your pet-friendly travel packing list?

12 thoughts on “13 Ultimate Essentials For the Best Road Trip with Your Dog”

  1. Some really informative tips here. I don’t have a pet but wil learmark this for my friends who do. Lots of tips here are so easily forgotten and the aide-memoire should stop you fortgetting stuff,

  2. One thing that stood out for me was the pet hammock. That is amazing because it saves time to clean and worrying about messed up seats. Routes are also important and you covered that. You want a happy pet haha.

  3. We may have to try a thunder shirt for our dog so we can leave her alone at home. She hates it. Also, to your point about the window locks, I remember when our old family dog once rolled down his window and tried to jump out while we were moving! We caught him just in time but it was pretty scary.

    1. Oh no, that’s scary! Our dogs have rolled down the window enough times, but fortunately never tried to jump out. And yeah, we’ve also had our share of separation anxiety with a couple of our dogs over the years. It seems like a constantly moving target, trying to figure out what helps them, right?

Join The Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.