Dogs make great travel companions and enjoy exploring the great outdoors just as much as we do. Service animals and pets can help keep us safe, provide emotional support, and make camping and outdoor recreation even more fun. Studies have shown that sharing our lives with a beloved pet can even improve our health by lowering our blood pressure, lifting our mood and enhancing immune function. For all that our dogs do for us, it is our duty as their caregivers to make sure they are safe and comfortable when they join us on the road.
Here are five tips for traveling with dogs to make sure your pooch enjoys your next road trip as much as you do.
1. If you plan on staying in hotels along the way, research pet-friendly hotels before heading out on the road. While there are plenty of pet-friendly hotels across the continent, they are not always easy to find on the day you need to make a reservation. If you are in a pinch, Motel 6 is a pet-friendly hotel chain that can be found almost anywhere.
2. Microchip your pet. If your cats, dogs or other furry friends come with you on the road, you need to microchip them. This simple, affordable procedure allows your pet to be quickly identified at animal shelters or veterinary offices, and you will get a phone call letting you know where you can pick them up if you get separated. You should also make sure you have your cell phone number on your pets’ tags, since your home number will not do you much good while on the road.
3. Pre-plan your pit stops. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends pit stops every two to three hours when traveling with pets. If your dog has the run of your RV on driving days, you may be able to spread this out a bit more, but make sure you plan for plenty of potty breaks at places that have pet areas where your dogs can stretch their legs.
4. Be sure to pack your pet’s medications, favorite treats and food. You are sure to pass a few pet stores along the way, but they may not have what you need. If your pets are on a special diet, take medications or vitamins, or are particular about their treats, make sure you bring along a supply that will last the duration of your road trip.
5. Buckle up for safety. Dogs make great co-pilots on long trips, but the passenger seat is not always the safest place for your pet to ride. Specially designed car seats for dogs or a travel crate that is secured in your RV are the best options for avoiding injuries in the event of an accident or taking a turn a bit too quickly. If you prefer to let your pets run loose in the RV, install a barrier that will keep them out of the cockpit.