Girl holding fluffy white dog next to car

Road Trip! Travel with Your Dog

Do you love to travel with your dog? Barring driving pups that get car sick, most dog-lovers do! And since COVID-19, road trips have become the preferred mode of travel. Whether visiting family, going camping, or renting a villa or hotel room, it’s important to make a plan for your dog ahead of time. Here are a few tips to help ensure your dog’s health, comfort, well-being, and safety.

If crossing state lines, you’ll need special documentation. You’ll need a health certificate from your vet. It’s important that you acquaint yourself with the requirements for any state you’ll visit or pass through and schedule an appointment with your vet to get the needed documentation within the timeframes required by those states.

This certificate is called a CVI (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection). It helps ensure your pet doesn’t carry illnesses or parasites that might harm the people or animals in your destination area.

Besides meeting various physical health criteria and depending on your pup’s origin, age, breed, final destination, and reason for his trip, he may need additional tests, vaccinations, treatments, or other procedures before receiving his CVI certificate from your vet. Depending on your destination, the process may vary from simple to complex.

Regardless of the weather, NEVER leave your pup alone in the car, even for a short period of time. Also, your pup should be safely restrained in your vehicle. Be sure to use a harness or a doggie car seat, or a car carrier placed in an area away from airbags.

This will help if you have to brake suddenly or perhaps swerve quickly, or in the worst-case scenario, you are involved in an accident. Having them restrained properly does many helpful things in protecting him. It prevents him from getting into things he shouldn’t, like your grocery bags, which not only have goodies he may or may not be able to eat but harmful items like cleaning supplies, which could be deadly.

Having him restrained securely keeps him from distracting you as you drive and keeps small dogs from becoming trapped in small spaces. And never transport him in the bed of a truck. That should be a no brainer.

How many times have you smiled when you see a pup’s happy face hanging out of the car’s window enjoying the ride and the smells wafting from the wind blowing his hair every which direction? He’s one happy pup. However, as much as he enjoys this, it’s a very risky venture for him for three reasons:

  1. It means he’s probably NOT properly restrained.
  2. He’s at a very high risk of eye, ear, mouth, and face injury from airborne objects making their way toward him as he hangs out the window.
  3. And finally, allowing him to have any part of his body hanging out of the window increases the risk of being ejected out of the vehicle during a collision or falling out of the open window if you have to make an abrupt stop or maneuver. Or he may jump out if something catches his attention. Be sure to have him properly secured for his sake as well as yours.

Remember to pack for your pup as you did for yourself. Pack his food, toys, water/food bowls, medical records/certificates, all medications. Be sure you have proper identification in case he becomes separated from you, and a first aid kit. You easily make your own. Click here to learn how.

Be a compassionate, responsible, and engaged pet parent when considering taking your pup along with you. If he’s comfortable with traveling, by all means, take him with you. If he’s ill, gets car sick every time he gets into the car, has an injury, or his age and or temperament are a factor, then perhaps you might consider a reliable pet sitter where he’ll be comfortable in his own home. There are also many reputable boarding facilities.

And by all means, be sure he’s allowed to stay with you wherever you are staying. Some accommodations allow pets; others do not. So be sure to do your homework before you venture out. Also, just in case you need to leave your pet unattended, be sure to have a portable kennel with you.

If staying with family or friends, be certain it is okay to bring Fido along and be sure he and you mind your manners. Be a responsible pet parent. You both are guests in their home. If staying at a hotel or bed and breakfast, inquire about their pet policy. Some only take pets under a certain weight. Before making your reservations, check with the establishment. Try to limit the amount of time your pup will be left alone in his hotel room.

If you have to leave him alone, to use your portable kennel. It’s a safe place for him, and there’s no way he can escape if the maid happens to come into the room when you’re not there. Even DO NOT DISTURB signs tend to disappear. Use the portable kennel for everyone’s safety and well-being. However, if you have a very well-behaved pet who is used to traveling with you and being left in his hotel room, he’ll probably be okay without his portable kennel. But I prefer the safety of knowing he won’t slip out without anyone noticing.

Be sure to advise the front desk that your pet is being left alone in your room and that you’ve left the DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door. And most importantly, be sure the hotel knows how to contact you if there are any difficulties or emergencies. Leave them your cell numbers and the number of the place you’ll be visiting if there is one. If you’re staying at a campground, be sure to follow their rules and regulations and pick up after your pets and always keep them leashed.  Always pick up after him and dispose of his waste properly.

Here is a guide to help you find veterinarians and Pet Emergency Hospitals in the United States:

  • American Animal Hospital Association | Website:  |  Phone: 800-252-2242
  • American Collee of Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care | Website:  |  Phone: 210-698-5575
  • National Animal Poison Control | Website: | Phone: 888-426-4435

Additional identification you might not have thought of:
Current color photo of your pet showing various angles.
ID tag should include the owner’s name, address (current home), and home and cell phone numbers.

1)     Owner’s name, local address, contact phone number, and your cell phone number/numbers.
2)     Contact info. For your local accommodations (hotel, campground, relatives/friends, etc.).
The pet’s microchip registration should be updated with your current contact information, including your cell numbers.

a)    Current copies of your pet’s medical records, including any pre-existing conditions and meds. Consider our handy Pet Medical Emergency Card. Free download here.
a)     Proof of vaccinations (proof of rabies vaccinations required)
b)     An exam by a veterinarian to be sure your pet is not showing signs of disease

Remember, taking your pet camping will expose him to all of the elements of the out-of-doors and the animals as well, such as skunks, raccoons, snakes, porcupines, and many more that can not only injure your pet but expose him to disease. NEVER allow him to chase or come into contact with the wildlife. It can be dangerous to your pet and/or the wildlife. And it could potentially be dangerous to you and your family. They are wild animals, and it’s their home and domain you are visiting. Be mindful of that.

Please use your best judgment, be responsible, and most of all, always be cognizant of your best friend. He relies solely upon your ability to keep him safe, comfortable, loved, and happy. Don’t let him down. HE ADORES YOU! Always and forever.

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