15 Items Every Dog Owner Needs in Their Car
Road trips—short and long—can be fun for both pet parents and their four-legged friends. Here's everything you need to bring along to keep your pooch happy, healthy, and safe.
Keeping a crate in the car is a smart idea as it keeps your dog safe while you are driving as well as protects it in the event of an accident, says Martin Wright, founder and owner of Argos Dog Training in Boston. If the crate is already in the car and you have to run out quickly with your dog, he will always have a safe place to cruise along. Look for one that has been crash-tested and designed with car travel in mind. Plus: Did you know you can do these car repairs yourself?
If you don’t have enough room in the backseat of your car for a crate, a safety harness is the next best thing. These are thick vests that your dog wears with short, detachable leads that work with your car’s seatbelts. These help keep your dog from trying to get on your lap while you’re driving ( a definite safety hazard!) and locks them safely in place in the event of an accident. Don’t forget these items you need in your summer car emergency kit.
It’s essential to always have bottled water on hand for your pooch, notes Brooks Williams, owner of Creature Comforts and Pawsitively Marblehead. Her team transports 60 dogs daily to doggie daycare and she makes sure that her drivers always have water for the dogs on their buses. Why is this so critical, even for short hauls? Your ride could break down or when you’re traveling to a new place or are headed far away, you can’t count on there being a readily available water supply.
Collapsible dog bowl
You’ll want to bring along a collapsible bowl as well, so your pup has a clean place to drink that water. A pop-up bowl is compact and can easily fit in your backpack or purse for an easy way to give your dog food or water on the go.
A leash is essential for making sure your dog does not jump out of the car when you open the door as well as keeping it from running away from you when are out and about. Just be sure to take the leash off before putting your dog in the crate; otherwise, it could get tangled and turn into a potential strangling hazard.
Of course, as a responsible pet parent, your dog always wears a dog tag so that he can be readily identified and returned to you in the case that he wanders. This is doubly important when you’re out of town and your dog is in unfamiliar surroundings. Check your pup’s ID to make sure the info is up-to-date, or, better yet, invest in a smart dog tag that connects to an app on your phone. You’ll receive alerts if your pup wanders outside a specified range, find local vets, and more.
The American Kennel Club recommends pet owners check in with their vet to make sure their pet’s vaccinations are current. If you are traveling a distance, you may want to bring your dog’s health records with you. (It’s a good idea to make a copy of the records.) Once you get to your destination, research the nearest 24-hour veterinary hospital in the event of an emergency, just in case.
If your dog is on regular medication, be sure to keep a supply in your car. Susan Kemp of Worldly Pets recalls that when she lived in Reno, Nevada, she worked 50 miles away from home and once got stranded with her dog. “After that experience, I always keep a few extra doses of my dog’s medication in my car.” Hiding oral medication in a tasty pill pocket can help the medicine go down.
Pet first aid kit
Always be prepared for an accident or emergency with a dog first aid emergency kit. The kit should contain the basics including bandages, gloves, gauzes, and antiseptic.
Treats are important to keep in your car according to Martin. They come in handy when you want to reward your dog for good behavior when going through a tollbooth or going to the bathroom in a new place.
Having your dog’s favorite blanket handy is a sensitive step to keeping your pup comfortable when in the car. It is also practical to keep one of the blankets on hand in the event your dog has an accident in his crate or to keep dog hair from getting all over the back seat of your car.
Paper towels, antibacterial multipurpose cleaner, water, and plastic bags are important to carry in your trunk in the event your dog gets sick or has an accident, shares Williams. A spot cleaner will help to neutralize germs and odors left behind. Also check out these 46 car detailing tips you can DIY.
If you are taking your dog on a longer car ride, you’ll need to stop for a bathroom break. Although some rest stops are equipped with bags, you should always carry a supply in your car. Many states have laws that require that you pick up after your pet and dispose of the waste—besides, it’s just good dog owner etiquette. Find out the other rules for being a responsible pet owner.
A dog chew toy will help keep your pup busy in the back seat. “Dogs can get anxious sitting in a car,” Wright says. “If your dog has extra energy, a dog chew like a Nyla bone is a great way to stimulate his mind and keep him busy,” Next, learn the 10 things you should never, ever do to your car.
Toys and games
A favorite toy or game can help keep your pet occupied, so you can keep your eyes on the road. “I have three dogs and lots of experience of traveling with them in the car,” Wright says. “I always have toys and games on hand to keep them occupied.” An activity mat is a great choice since it’s flat and easy to store and offers different types of challenges.
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