Here are my Top 9 Must Brings when on a Road Trip with Dogs
- Do a vet visit prior to leaving on a trip: your dog should have all up-to-date shots, bring up-to-date copies of paperwork with you just in case you have an emergency and need to get into a vet asap!
- Always have an extra leash
- Two dog bowls. One for food the other for water
- Water bottles just for pooch. I always had a water bottle for Winston and one for myself, especially when driving through the heat of the High Desert.
- Extra food than you think you'll need!
- Flea and tick medication, if you're going to be around other animals and/or staying in hotels you must have flea medication. Pet friendly hotels can easily host fleas! Don't forget Heart worm medication
- Wet wipes for easy dirty paw cleaning!
- I use Children's Benadryl tabs cut in half for when Winston is feeling woozy. Make sure to call your vet and discuss what options you have to relief anxiety and car sickness.
- Dog seat belt. This keeps everyone safer. I didn't awakes have Winston in a seat belt but it helped when I didn't want him jumping on my lap and laying there for hours.
Read on for the whole story!
Oh Winston, you know I love you but I gotta get this out there - you’re not the easiest to travel with! Winston is my one and only dependent on this two month long road trip across the USA. He is a mixed breed, Yorkie and Westie, adorable and scared of life. I found him at a pet shop in Brooklyn, NY last year. He had been there for four months, in his cage, fully grown and could barely stand up because he was so scared. I don’t know the circumstances of why no one had bothered to purchase him but as soon as I learned that he was there for that long, in that cage, I knew he’d be coming home with me. And so he did and now I have a cute one and a half year old dog who will travel with me until we don’t any longer. I'm not sure he's always up to the task but alas his mom is a traveler at heart so here we go on our two month long road trip!
Meet Winston, my road tripping dog
I’m sure he wasn’t keen on this trip. We had moved to two apartments prior to me deciding to do this and within a span of four months at that. For a shaky dog that’s a lot of moving around.
Before I get into what it's like to road trip with dog I'd like to note where we went! Here's a map of every stop we made on our journey across the USA, of course we did many day trips as well so this is just an overview of the major stops.
Map of every major stop on the trip
- Stops included:
- Brooklyn, NY
- Nashville, TN
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Taos, NM
- Santa Fe, NM
- Albuquerque, NM
- Breckenridge, CO
- Salt Lake City, UT
- La Grande, OR
- Portland, OR
- Cannon Beach, OR
- Missoula, MT
- Bozeman, MT
- Livingston, MT
- Yellowstone National Park
- Sioux Falls, SD
- Danville, IL
- Philadelphia, PA
So what’s it like to do a cross country road trip with a dog in tow? Well it can be hectic but also rewarding. On a tight budget I’ve found that hotel and airbnb pet fees can really add up, especially when I’m on the road staying at different hotels for a few nights straight. Keeping extra water and food in the car is a must. Different climates that we enter day to day can shift pretty dramatically so leaving him in the car at rest stops for a few minutes while I refill up on gas and caffeine can be challenging. Make sure your dog is safe in every situation. Just getting him out of the car at a gas station becomes a major task at times as I don’t really want him walking through oil and gas. I also don’t want him stepping on glass or whatever other disgusting things that can end up on the side of the roadways.
One of the highlights of this trip was when Winston met a sheep, they became insta bffs.
He also doesn’t like to sit in the backseat even with his seat belt on. He just chokes himself, even with the aid of Benadryl, trying to get to my lap. I end up having to hold him for sometimes ten hours straight in the passenger seat. If it’s not me then it’s Michele while I take my turn in the drivers seat. I also have to take care of his mental well being along with my own. Each new place we end up in can make Winston jittery or excited and he has to resettle in each hotel or home or apartment in which we find ourselves. I have to walk him alone at night in weird and sometimes deserted hotel parking lots. It can be late depending on the time we arrive in each location.
I have to think about other people’s furniture, maintain and take care of it as my dog may come in from the rain with dirty, muddy paws. I have to make sure I have enough food for him as I never know when I’ll find another pet store on the road. I have extra bowls packed just in case - hotels really don’t cater to your dog so you have to have at least two bowls, one for water and one for his or her dinner. There are also the wildlife hazards that can be encountered. Winston likes to chase other animals, being a terrier and all, so I have to keep him in sight at all times (not that he isn’t usually anyway it’s just a different level of attention). In New Mexico I had to make sure he didn’t get hold of a scorpion, keep him away from Prairie Dogs as they can carry the Bubonic Plague, watch out for Mountain Lions while hiking, make sure he didn’t eat or step in droppings and get poisoned or sick.
Winston is about to go on the trip of a lifetime, down the Rio Grande river in a raft in New Mexico!
In Breckenridge he had to stay a few extra hours in the hotel alone. Many hotels have a policy that you’re not ever allowed to leave your animal alone in the room and our Breckenridge stay was one of these. He couldn’t go fly fishing with us, I just didn’t know if he could handle being outside in the cold for that many hours and I just wasn’t properly prepared for him to be out there with us. I can’t let him off leash without my supervision yet, as stated before, and didn’t know if there would be a spot to tie him on his leash for a few hours. He was fine in the hotel room but I was worried that he’d bark too much and animal control would pull him out of the room!
In Portland we didn’t have a fully enclosed yard so he had to be leashed again. In Montana we had black bears coming in the yard at night so I have to take extra precautions when walking him at night. He cannot come to some of the state parks that we’ve visited because of wildlife conservation efforts therefore his presence has made us have to change plans on the fly.
Stopping to the smell anything and everything is a favorite pastime of Winstons
There’s a lot to consider here but I’ve also watched him become a more open and less shaky pup. He has seen 17 new states! He’s learned how to swim and has gotten to do so in the Rio Grande River, Columbia River, Sandy River and the Pacific Ocean so far. He has seen many more types of people, cowboy hats will never scare him that’s for sure! He’s hiked some of the most amazing trails in the USA, keeping him in shape mentally and physically. The car doesn’t scare him any longer. He now sees the car as his home, the only constant on this trip and he now hops in happily and without the addition of Benadryl.
Speaking of happiness, Winston has become a more cheerful, healthier and stronger animal and those things alone outweigh every single challenge we’ve faced on the road and all hotel fee we’ve paid on this trip. Dogs don’t live long and I want his life to be spectacular. He’s getting spectacular on this trip ;)
Winston finally starts looking out the window! This pup has completely transformed, as have we all.
I cannot emphasize enough how much preplanning will make for safer, better and happier travels for everyone, especially your dog!
Has your dog traveled with you? Do you have any tips on road tripping or air travel with them?