Summer is right around the corner, and for a lot of people, that means vacation is just on the horizon. We know you love your furry friends, so you may be thinking about including them in your travel plans. If you’re thinking about hitting the road with your dog, here are a few things to keep in mind so they can best enjoy your next excursion with you.

Air travel is tough on dogs. 

If you prefer jet-setting, it’s best you leave your dog at home with a sitter or reputable boarder. Air travel should be a last-resort option for transporting your pet because it can be very stressful for your dog. The lower cabin generally isn’t climate controlled, which means your dog could freeze or overheat depending on the conditions. During turbulence, dogs may be less steady in their crates. Additionally, dogs with respiratory issues may have issues adjusting to the altitude. If your dog is small, see if they can ride with you in the main cabin. There are also some specialized airlines which will transport dogs in a climate controlled environment, but they tend to be very pricey.

Maintain good car safety etiquette. 

Just like you need to keep your seatbelt fastened, Fido is safest in your car if he’s confined to a crate or harnessed to his own carrier. Keeping your dog loose in your car isn’t safe for either of you – your dog could distract you from the road when your attention should be squarely on driving. If you have your dog in the front seat with you, they could be killed by deployed airbags in the event of a wreck. Restraining your pet in the back seat is the safest option. Additionally, never leave your dog alone in a parked car, especially at temperatures above 70 degrees fahrenheit. Temperatures climb quickly in an inert car, and your pet could easily overheat.

Consider your dog’s temperament.

If you plan on living the nomadic lifestyle with your dog, you may want to factor in how your dog handles long car rides, strangers, or other dogs. Does your dog get sick riding in the car? If so, then life on the road might not be for them. Does your dog snap at other dogs, children, or other strangers? Then you’ll have to be strict about keeping them leashed and under control outside of your vehicle, which is already a small space. The ideal traveling companion is laid-back, friendly towards other people and animals, and obedient to your commands. Work your way up to longer car rides by starting with short trips to assess how your dog fares. 

Time your meals and hydration appropriately.

If possible, feed your dog a light meal a few hours before traveling to keep them from getting nauseous in the car. If you plan on traveling for longer than a day, you’ll need to make stops to let your dog eat their meals while your vehicle isn’t moving. Feeding in a moving car is a quick way to get a car-sick dog. Be sure to keep plenty of bottled water on hand, as water from unknown sources could also cause an upset stomach. 

Pack your dog’s “suitcase”.

While packing your own bags, create a travel kit of sorts for your dog with all necessary vaccination and health records, food, bowl, water, toys, and leash. A first aid kit is never a bad idea. You’ll also need to keep poop bags handy to pick up after your pet, even on the road. Make sure your dog’s collar is updated with correct information in case you become separated and have your dog microchipped in the event they get picked up by a local shelter.