What Do I Need To Bring For My Puppy On A Road Trip?

These days, more and more people are hitting the road and living what’s known as the “van life” across America. That’s especially true of the younger generation, but many older folks are also living and working out of their vans.

Bringing a puppy on the road is something many do when living the van life. People going on a road trip will also bring their puppy with them rather than putting it in a boarding kennel.

Road trips are as American as Mom, apple pie, and baseball, of course.  Even if you aren’t going out for an extremely long time, a weekend or week-long road trip with your puppy can be a lot of fun.

Of course, just like you prepare things for yourself, you must prepare things for your puppy when you leave home for a few days to hit the road. Their food, obviously, as well as toys, bedding, and anything else they might need.

As I was preparing for my own road trip recently, I was thinking about a question many readers have asked me over the years: what do I need to bring for my puppy on a road trip?

The answer is that you need to bring all sorts of stuff. Food, water, toys, doggie doo bags, bowls for the water and food, and a leash. And that’s just for starters.

The answer also depends on where you plan to go. Let’s be honest; unless you go far into the wilderness, there’s usually a Walmart or other store close enough that you can use to pick up anything you forget.

On the other hand, if you do plan to go on a road trip to the middle of nowhere, bringing along everything your puppy needs is essential. The last thing you want is to be far from home and suddenly realize you didn’t bring something critical.

Now that you know some of the basics you need to bring for your puppy on a road trip,  there’s a good chance you have more questions about puppies on road trips.  

For example, how do you prepare a puppy for a road trip, and, should you feed them before you leave on a road trip.

I have the answer to those questions, and several more, below. If you’re getting ready to explore America with your precious pup, it’s good information to have before leaving.

Can I take my Puppy on a Road Trip?

Whether or not you can take your puppy on a road trip depends on the puppy and its ability to handle car rides. Veterinarians recommend that you slowly get your puppy acquainted with car travel using short trips.

Taking your puppy on a long road trip can be risky if you’ve never done it before, as the risk of car sickness, motion sickness, anxiety, and other problems is higher.

Again, all puppies are different, and all will react differently to a long trip in a car, truck, van, RV, etc. If possible, accustom your puppy to car rides a few weeks or months before leaving on your road trip. When the day arrives that you leave, they will be better able to handle the trip.

How Do you Travel Long Distance with a New Puppy?

As I mentioned earlier, the ability to take your puppy on a road trip, or long-distance trip, depends on the puppy and their experience. 

If you’re planning to travel long distances with a puppy and do it mostly by wheeled vehicle, there are several things you need and several steps you should take in preparation, including:

  • Bring a puppy crate. The puppy crate should be firmly attached wherever you place it in your vehicle.  Using a crate, your puppy will feel more secure and be able to sleep while you are in motion.  Both will lower their anxiety and lower the risk that they will vomit.
  • Keep the crate in your vehicle low to the floor and cover three sides with a sheet. This will allow your puppy to see you but reduce what they can see overall, reducing motion sickness and anxiety.
  • Keep the inside of your vehicle cool. Remember, a puppy and an adult dog feel the heat and suffer from it faster than humans. You might be comfortable in your car, but your puppy could be overheating. For that reason, even in the winter, keeping the inside of your vehicle cool is essential when traveling with a puppy.
  • Be sure to stop regularly so that you can take your puppy out of the car to relieve themself.
  • Don’t feed your puppy directly before leaving on a long-distance trip.

How Do I Prepare my Dog for a Road Trip?

The best way to prepare a dog or puppy for a long-distance road trip is to take several shorter trips beforehand. Even one short trip to get your puppy accustomed to the vehicle you will be using is a good idea and better than nothing.

Think about it this way; the more you do something scary, the less scary it seems. The same holds for a dog. If they have been inside a moving vehicle before and know what it feels like, doing it again becomes easier every time.

Should I Feed my Dog before a Road Trip?

Veterinarians recommend against feeding your dog before a road trip. The reason why it’s simple; with food in their belly, the chance of vomiting if your puppy gets motion sickness is much higher (and the mess you’ll need to clean up will be much bigger).

If you plan to use a dog crate in your vehicle, which is highly recommended, purchase it ahead of time so your puppy can get used to it, sleep in it, etc. If you do this correctly, your pupper will be accustomed to their crate by the time you leave and will experience fewer problems. 

What Can I give my Dog to Calm them Down while Traveling?

You can use several methods to calm your puppy or dog down while traveling. For example, several antihistamines work well, including Cerenia, Dramamine, Bonine, and Antivert. 

Benadryl is also an excellent antihistamine to use and reduces anxiety by sedating your puppy safely. Feeding your puppy Benadryl is also easier as it’s small and effortless to swallow.

You can also use several sedatives to keep your dog calm while traveling, but most are prescribed by a veterinarian, including gabapentin and trazodone.

If you want to go the natural route, white lavender is known for its calming effects on dogs. Also, valerian, passion flower, and chamomile work well to reduce their anxiety. Use one of them to make a tea you can then put in your dog’s water.

Although more testing is needed, some dog owners swear by CBD oil. They say that it will relax your dog, prevent motion sickness, and help it “deal”  with traveling in a moving vehicle.

Final Thoughts

What do you need to bring for your puppy on a road trip? Practically everything that you would need to take care of them in your home, including treats, leashes, blankets, poop bags, water, and more.

Getting your puppy accustomed to traveling in the vehicle you will use for your road trip is also essential. The more time they spend in the vehicle before leaving on your road trip, the better.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog and that you now know what you need to bring on a road trip when you take a puppy. If you have more questions or want to learn more about being a puppy parent, I urge you to read my other blogs. 

I do my best to fill all of them with real-world info and advice that can provide valuable help to new puppy parents like yourself. Until next time, have a great road trip and good luck taking your puppy along for the ride!