Preparation is key to a safe, happy car trip with your dog |

Preparation is key to a safe, happy car trip with your dog

Shirley McMarlin
When traveling with a pet, be sure to bring familiar items and stick to a consistent feeding schedule to help your pet feel comfortable.

We’ve always considered our pets to be members of the family, and now those pets — particularly dogs — are increasingly allowed out of the yard and into public spaces.

That makes it easier to take them along when we travel. In fact, 45% of respondents to a recent OnePoll/Quaker State travel quiz said pets would be included in their summer road trips.

Still, it takes some thought and preparation to make sure your fur baby has a safe and comfortable travel experience.

According to Aislinn Carson, an employee at See Spot Run doggie day-care and dog park in Greensburg, it’s good to get your dog used to the car by taking short trips before you hit the road. She should know, as she motors to Oregon to camp every summer with her German shepherd-huskie mix, Cassidy.

Carson says it’s also important to avoid using crowded rest stops, truck stops and other places frequented by lots of dogs, if possible.

“Dogs can pick up parvo(virus) or other diseases, like kennel cough, in public places — especially puppies, if they haven’t had their last round of shots,” she says.

Also, make a list of emergency veterinarians along the route, just in case a medical issue arises. This is especially important if you’ll be traveling through areas with unreliable cell phone service.

Here are a few other things to consider before going on the road with Fido.

• If your dog is not microchipped, consider having it done. Otherwise, make sure your dog has a sturdy collar with ID tags securely attached. Dogs have been known to run off at rest stops.

• If your vehicle is roomy enough, consider loading a kennel or crate to confine your dog. Otherwise, a pet seat belt or harness restraint is the best way to keep it safe. Your dog should have its own space and not be relegated to a foot well or someone’s lap.

• Make sure to pack food, water, bowls, shot record, license, medications, leash, first aid kit, poop bags, bed and some favorite toys. A chew toy is a good way to keep a dog occupied in the car.

Take more food than you think you’ll need, Carson says, so you’ll have plenty in case of a breakdown or other delay.

• A cooling vest can be helpful during especially hot days.

• Drooling and gagging are signs that a dog is getting carsick. There are veterinarian-prescribed and over-the-counter medications that can be given beforehand to avoid that scenario. Carson says Benadryl and Dramamine can be used for nausea — check with your vet or on the Internet for proper dosage for the animal’s weight. Mild sedatives are available for car anxiety, and Carson says some dog owners have success with using CBD oil.

• Stay on a consistent meal schedule.

• Take frequent breaks. A well-trained dog should have a bathroom break every 3 to 4 hours; a pup might need to stop every hour or so.

If you think your trip will take 6 hours, tack a couple more on to compensate, Carson says.

• For the worst-case scenario, pack easily accessible cleaning supplies and paper towels.

• For planning meals and overnight stops, websites like and provide information on dog-friendly restaurants and hotels.


Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.