Dog Road Trip Essentials: Packing, Prepping, & Potty Breaks

by Hannah Roundy

Black dog with head out of car window

If you plan to take your dog on a road trip you’ll need to make a few changes to your typical travel plans to accommodate your pup. 

Bringing your dog on a road trip this summer? Make the most of the drive with our list of dog road trip essentials. Also, learn how to avoid car sickness in dogs for smooth traveling. 

Preparing Your Dog-Friendly Road Trip

If you plan to take your dog on a road trip, there are a few things to consider. This isn’t your average road trip – you’ll need to make a few changes to your typical travel plans to accommodate your pup. 

Dog Car Harnesses and Kennels 

The safest way to drive with your dog is to secure them in a safety harness, seatbelt, or kennel. We know this isn’t the most ideal way to take a dog on a road trip, but prioritizing your pup’s safety is the easiest way to avoid an accident. 

If you prefer to keep your pup out of a kennel,  car harnesses are dog road trip essentials. These harnesses easily attach to the seatbelts in your car. Your pup will have enough room to make themselves comfortable while reducing the risk of injury in a car accident. 

Plan Your Route in Advance

The luxury of road-tripping without your pets means you can take breaks as you please. But if you’re bringing your dog on a road trip, we recommend planning your stops in advance. Potty breaks are dog road trip essentials! Plan on stopping every 2-3 hours for potty breaks and a little exercise. 

ID Tags & Microchips 

The last thing you want is to lose your pup on vacation, especially in a place you aren’t familiar with. So before taking your dog on a road trip, make sure they are wearing ID tags on their collar with your contact information. Call your vet and ensure your contact information is up to date on their microchip, as well. 

Book Dog-Friendly Accommodation

Check that your hotel or vacation rental allows dogs before hitting the road. The last thing you want to hear after a 4-hour road trip is that your hotel can’t welcome your furry friend. We recommend using to find dog-friendly hotels and rentals. 

Practice Driving with Your Dog

If you’ve never brought your dog on a road trip with you, try a few practice runs. Car sickness in dogs is common for pups who haven’t experienced long drives before. Get your dog acclimated to the feeling of driving by taking them on errands with you before the road trip. 

Dog Road Trip Essentials: What to Pack

What dog road trip essentials do you need to pack for the big drive? Our dog travel checklist lists everything you need to have a fun, easy road trip with your pup.

What dog road trip essentials should you keep in the car?

- Dog leash

- Collar (w/ ID tags) 

- Collapsible bowls for food and water breaks.

- Poop bags

- Toys & long-lasting chews to keep your pup occupied during the drive and manage anxiety.

- Dog harness, kennel, or carrier – preferably one that can secure to a seatbelt. 

- Treats 

- Bottled water 

What dog road trip essentials should I pack in a suitcase? 

- Plenty of servings of their current dog food. Consider keeping this handy in the car if the drive overlaps with your pup’s meal time. 

- Dog bed (if your dog won’t be sleeping in their kennel or carrier)

- Medication (if necessary for chronic condition, flea, tick and heartworm protection, or for stress management) 

- Potty cleaning supplies – just in case your dog has an accident at your hotel or rental.

- Clothing (optional) 

- It’s recommended to have your dog’s vaccination records on hand, just in case you need to visit a local veterinarian.

If you are feeding your dog fresh or frozen dog food, you know how hard it can be to travel with it. We recommend switching to shelf-stable, air-dried dog food like Sundays if you travel with your dog frequently. It’s lightweight, 100% human-grade, and easy to store and serve anywhere. 

How to Prevent & Treat Car Sickness in Dogs 

Car sickness in dogs is perfectly normal for pups that haven’t spent much time driving. It’s most common in younger puppies because the part of the inner ear that controls balance hasn’t fully developed. But dogs older than 1 year should be less prone to motion sickness. 

How can you spot car sickness in dogs? The symptoms are as follows: 

  • Vomiting
  • Defecation or urination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Licking their lips 
  • Acting more lethargic than usual 
  • Whining
  • Pacing back and forth 

If you notice your dog acting strangely and exhibiting signs of motion sickness, try taking a break from driving. Walk your dog for a few minutes at a rest stop or gas station to relieve motion sickness. 

Be patient and forgiving with your pup if motion sickness causes them to vomit or go potty in the car. They are out of control when it comes to car sickness in dogs and they’ll need your help to feel better. 

Curious about how to prevent car sickness in dogs altogether? Taking your dog for drives in the car ahead of your trip will help them know what to expect. Even just putting your dog in the car and turning on the motor in your driveway a few times may reduce their anxiety. 

If possible, try not to give your pup food a few hours before bringing your dog on a road trip. Nausea is less common on an empty stomach so this will prevent any vomiting or motion sickness-induced accidents. Having fresh water accessible to your pup will also relieve car sickness in dogs. 

If your dog is prone to nausea, anxiety, or stress, talk to your vet about medication. They can prescribe you anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medication to make your dog feel more comfortable in the car. Your vet may also recommend non-prescription calming medication to help prevent car sickness in dogs. 

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