Traveling With A Pet

Owning a pet is becoming quite popular – many people have therapy animals and tons of younger people are choosing pets over having children. Regardless of your reasons, when you choose to buy or adopt a pet, you are choosing to add to your family. That animal loves you and looks to you for comfort, sustenance, and protection. It is a big responsibility, like having a child. That is why when we travel, we try to bring our three dogs whenever possible. Here are some ways we go about including Willow (7yo, 70lb Husky/Lab mix), Juniper (2yo, 28lb Shiba Inu/Mini Poodle mix), and Hazel (6 months old, 18+lb Mini Australian Shepherd) into our adventures! 

Willow snoozing during sunrise on a North Carolina Beach in January.

We will not fly with our dogs…that is just personal preference due to the distress it can cause them. However, if we are driving to our destination we always plan on bringing the pups along too. Willow and Juniper have both been camping, to the mountains, and to the beach multiple times. Hazel is only about 6 months old and has not gone on any extended road trips yet! Depending on your destination, your dog will require a different kind of preparation based on your length of stay and the climate during your trip. Obviously you would not want to take your pup hiking through the desert, or keep them in a camper without air conditioning. But if you plan on staying in a hotel or airbnb, or camping in a mild climate – you can definitely bring them along! 

That being said, finding lodging that allows pets can be a challenge. While many places do allow pets, there are also rules that typically must be followed: pets cannot be left alone in the room (even if crated), they cannot cause disruptions, and they must be leashed at all times. A website that I have found quite helpful in locating pet-friendly lodging and dining is Bring Fido. It allows you to quickly locate pet policies, read reviews from other pet owners, and also find businesses that offer veterinary and grooming services in a pinch. 

Juniper blends right into the campsite foundation!

When we load up all three dogs into the car, we do everything we can to make them comfortable AND protect the interior of our vehicle. We utilize both a seat cover and a hammock to keep the seats dry and (mostly) hair-free, as well as making the dogs feel secure in the back seat. We did splurge on the two items that I linked, and they have been the best products we have ever found – well worth the $120 price. We also take a large dog bed and a few durable chew toys to keep them comfortable and occupied throughout the road trip. We have found that traveling with the dogs in harnesses vs. collars makes getting in and out of the car for toileting breaks much easier. We also typically pack a “doggy duffel” which is just an old backpack. In this bag we carry: plastic bags for picking up waste, leashes/tie-outs, treats, extra toys, and a towel for wiping dirty paws. In the trunk we keep a bottle of non-toxic fabric cleaner and extra paper towels in case the dogs get sick (but the hammock does a wonderful job of containing the mess!).

Willow and Juniper enjoying some fresh air in the back seat of the CR-V!

In addition to all of the items the dogs need for the car ride, they also have needs once we get to where we are going. In order to avoid over-packing, we measure out their food requirements meal by meal +1 extra meal. For example: Juniper gets one scoop of food in the morning and one in the evening…if we are going camping for 4 days, we will pack 9 scoops of her food. If your dog is on any type of medication, do not forget to pack it in its original bottle! And we typically also bring a bottle of dog shampoo as a courtesy, just in case we have to bathe the dogs to keep our accommodation (or tent) as clean as possible.

If you are already a pet-traveling owner, then you know how much goes into including them on your adventures. But you also know that it is worth it because they are SO happy spending time with you, trying new things, and having fun getting dirty! If you are not a pet owner yet, these are a few variables I would take into consideration when choosing your future travel buddy: size, temperament, how much they shed/grooming requirements, and endurance. Whether you choose a giant German Shepherd, a compact Mini Poodle, or some exotic pet…do the best you can to not leave them behind! 

If you have any tips or suggestions for fellow pet-owners, share in the comments!

-Melanie

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” – Roger Caras

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