Spring Break is always a blast, but it can be especially fun if your four-legged family members get to tag along! If you’re prepping to pack up the car for a Spring Break road trip, there’s plenty you can do to make sure your pup has as much fun as you do.
Here are some guidelines for how to travel with a dog for Spring Break.
Spring Break Travel Safety Tips
Make sure the trip is right for your pet. Before exploring the best way to travel with a dog, consider whether you should bring your pup along at all. While we’d all love to spend Spring Break with our dogs, it’s important to be mindful that not all trips and destinations are pet friendly. Sometimes the best option is to have a trusted pet sitter watch your buddy until you return. If you’re not sure whether a trip will be safe or enjoyable for your pet, consult your veterinarian.
Avoid leaving your dog in the car unattended. This is important advice for anyone wondering how to keep dogs safe in cars, especially in hot weather. Even on cool days, the inside of a car can get dangerously hot in a surprisingly short time if the sun is shining. Whenever possible, always bring your dog with you when you leave the vehicle.
Before you go, find a local vet at your destination. When traveling with a pet, it never hurts to be too careful. To make sure you’re prepared for anything, look up veterinarians in the area you’ll be visiting so you know when and where to go, just in case. Also, if your dog is on any medication, make sure you pack these in a secure place and bring your dog’s medical paperwork with you.
Help your dog get in and out. Does your dog ever struggle to jump up into the car? Does he hesitate to jump down? Do you ever strain your back having to bend down and give him a boost? For many pet parents, the answer is yes to all of the above. Dog ramps and steps are a wonderful way to take the effort out of loading dogs in cars, saving their joints and yours at the same time!
Put your dog in the back seat. Whether you have one canine copilot or multiple dogs in the car, it’s safer for everyone if each dog riding in the car stays in the back seat. Dogs in the front seat can be a dangerous distraction and are at risk of injury if airbags deploy. When traveling with a puppy in a car, a comfy dog travel crate is the perfect place for them to nap safely while you’re on the road. This portable dog crate for cars buckles into your car’s seatbelt for a secure ride.
Equip your dog with contact info. While in a new place, dogs sometimes get a little too curious and try to wander off and explore. If your dog does get away from you, it’s especially important that he has identifying info with him. Make sure he has ID tags on his collar or harness with an updated phone number where you can be reached.
Microchip your dog for peace of mind. In addition to tags, it’s a great idea to get your dog microchipped. This tiny, harmless chip, placed just under the skin by a veterinary professional, can be scanned by a vet or animal shelter employee to quickly find your dog’s information (often including your contact info) on a national database. Microchips can be a lifesaver for dogs who get lost in a new place!
Watch out for hot pavement in parking lots and sidewalks. According to the AKC, when it’s 85 degrees out or hotter, there’s a good chance that pavement and sand has gotten hot enough to burn your dog’s paws. A good way to check to see if it’s safe to walk is to test with your hand or your bare foot – if you can’t hold your skin against concrete, asphalt or sand comfortably for 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog! Try traveling through the grass, carrying your buddy if he’s small, or consider some dog shoes if you plan to stroll the sunny sidewalks together.
Keep your dog by your side. With pit stops along the way and adventures once you reach your destination, a versatile dog harness can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping your buddy close by! There are many options available, but some of the best harnesses for travel are designed to buckle your pup up in the car and give you flexibility on where to attach the leash, offering a front no-pull attachment for busy crowds or a back attachment for leisurely early-morning walks on the beach.
Spring Break Travel Comfort Tips
Make regular pit stops. Be sure to stop regularly for brief, leashed walks to let your dog potty and stretch his legs. For long trips, consider looking up off-leash dog parks along your route. Some rest stops and travel centers offer fenced areas specifically for dogs. It’s almost impossible to maintain an open water bowl in a moving vehicle, so pit stops are also the best time to offer your dog water.
Protect your seats from hair, paws and more. One of the easiest ways to make your car, truck, minivan or SUV more dog-friendly is with handy waterproof seat covers. Seat covers are great for keeping dog hair, muddy paws and other pup messes off your seats while keeping your pampered passenger comfy.
Give small dogs a boost. Even the little guys can have their very own window seat with a comfy, elevated booster seat that includes a safety tether and attaches easily to a car seat headrest. These keep small dogs from wandering in the car and help them relax as they watch the world go by out the car window.
Make your destination feel like home. Familiar scents are hugely important to keeping your dog comfortable in a new setting. You can make your buddy feel right at home at your travel destination by bringing his favorite blankets, dog beds and toys along. Give him time to explore his temporary home away from home so he can get used to the new sights, sounds and smells.
Give your dog a space of his own. Find a quiet place for your dog’s bed, crate and toys. Especially if your destination is crowded with people, many dogs will appreciate a peaceful place where they can take a break from all the attention. If he’s allowed on the furniture, lightweight, portable pet steps can help him get up and down. Place his food and water nearby where he can find it easily.
Keep your dog cool with fresh water. Have you ever caught your dog drinking from the pool or sampling seawater? A sunny day on the beach or the patio can make anyone thirsty! Be sure to bring water and a bowl along so your dog has fresh water wherever you go. And if your buddy is chilling at the hotel or rental for the day, give him access to filtered, flowing water all day long with a pet fountain.
Stick to your dog’s usual meal routine. Another way to help your dog feel at home is to maintain his normal eating times. If your trip’s itinerary makes this a challenge, an automatic pet feeder can help ensure your buddy gets his meals on time, every time.
Keep your pup entertained with fun dog toys. Many dogs get anxious when visiting a new place for the first time. An interactive dog toy is the perfect distraction to focus his attention on fun while he’s getting acclimated to his new surroundings. Looking to help your buddy stay cool? A freezable dog toy can be filled with treats like peanut butter, yogurt, broth and more for a frosty snack that will help him beat the heat. And don’t forget to keep some treat-holding dog toys handy to keep him happy and occupied on the ride home.
Dog Travel Checklist
Here’s a handy list of common items to make traveling with your dog safe, comfortable and fun this Spring Break (and all year long!):
- Collar and ID tags with contact information
- Leash and harness
- Poop bags
- Dog food
- Food and water bowls
- Dog ramp or steps
- Dog barrier or zipline
- Waterproof seat cover
- Collapsible travel crate
- Pet travel bag
- Beds and blankets from home
- Pet fountain
- Automatic pet feeder
- Interactive dog toys