Just because summer is almost over, it doesn’t mean my wanderlust has subsided in any way. Although I might not be thinking about hitting the beach anytime soon, fall can be the perfect time to get outdoors and see the changing of the seasons up close. At this time of year, I can think of nothing better than jumping in the car with my dog and hitting the road for a weekend road trip. If like me, this idea fills you with joy, there are a few things you need to think about before loading up the car.
Here are some things to think about:
1. Will a road trip stress your dog out?
Unless your dog is a seasoned road tripper, you won’t really have a good idea of what he loves until you’ve tried it. Some dogs love the change of scenery and the chance to get their paws muddy in an undiscovered part of the world, while others prefer the comforts of home they have become accustomed to. Before committing to a full-fledged road trip, try taking your dog for a spin for a few hours to see how he reacts.
2. Dogs get car sick too!
Feeling carsick ranks up there with some of the worst feelings in the world, so the last thing you want is a carsick dog moping in the backseat. Your vet will be able to prescribe a car sickness pill if your dog suffers from motion sickness, but you might want to test the dosage and side effects on a shorter outing.
3. Beware the wildlife.
Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date before you leave! Dogs are notorious for getting themselves into situations with the local wildlife. This can range from a non-threatening (but seriously gross) run-in with a skunk, to potentially fatal encounters with snakes. Keep your dog on a leash if she can get a little too curious, and if you do decide to let her off, make sure she is fitted with a dog microchip.
4. Your dog needs to “belt-up,” too.
Creating a dedicated space in the car for your dog will keep everyone safe and happy. Try fixing up the back seat with a pet-proof cover, and then secure your dog with a harness and specialist seat-belt. Your dog should be able to move around enough to get comfortable–but not enough to climb over to the front seats.
5. Don’t forget your dog’s essentials.
Along with all of your own road trip essentials, there are a few important things you will need for your dog. Just like humans, dogs can become ill when drinking water they aren’t accustomed to. Bringing your own tap water or bottled water is best, and try to avoid letting your dog drink from natural sources such as rivers and lakes. They will also need enough food to cover the trip, any medication they are taking, dog shampoo (if your pet plans to get muddy), and any home comforts they might need for the journey.
Taking a road trip with your dog is an unforgettable experience. What advice would you give to first-time dog road trippers?
Rebecca Harper is a freelance writer living in London. After studying English at university, she pursued a career in journalism. She enjoys writing about animal welfare and personal development.