What to Pack for a Car Trip with a Dog

May 12, 2014

By Laurie Darroch

If you’re taking your dog with you on a long car trip, it’s important to take their needs into consideration. You want the trip to be as comfortable and calm as possible for both of you.

Movement and Restraint

Although it isn’t required in most places, it’s a good idea to have some form of restraint to keep your dog from running all over in the car, distracting you from your driving. You may opt for a crate, but if the drive is very long, give your dog an opportunity to take breaks.

Instead of a crate, you can use a harness designed for a dog that attaches to the seat belt. This gives your dog more ability to move around but not get loose, and it keeps them safer. They come in different sizes, so remember to upgrade to the correct size if your dog is still growing.

Another option is to buy a divider or gate that keeps the dog out of the front seat area and only allows the dog to move freely behind the divider, the way a taxi driver or chauffeur keeps passengers in the back seat.

Food, Water and Medications

It’s a good idea to keep your dog on their normal eating schedule while on a long road trip. Bring enough of their CANIDAE dog food to cover all the meals they will need both on the drive itself and at the destination. Also bring along some of their favorite CANIDAE treats as a reward and to help encourage your dog to behave well on the trip.

Be sure to bring their food and water bowls. Bring gallon jugs of bottled water in case there are no water resources along the way. You can feed the dog in the car if necessary or even better, stop and feed your dog outside to allow them to stretch their legs.

If your dog is prone to car sickness, keep meals light until you reach your destination, or only feed them at pit stops and give them a little time to move around and digest their food a bit before you get back on the road.

If your dog is taking medication for anything, bring that along as well.


Like human children, a dog can get bored on a long drive. Although that may put your dog to sleep for a while, at some point they may need something to keep them entertained. Chew toys, a favorite stuffed toy, bones to gnaw on and an occasional CANIDAE Pure Heaven biscuit will help your dog pass the time while you travel.

Exercise and Potty Breaks

Just like you, a dog needs to stretch their legs on occasion. They will also need to go to the bathroom. The break is good for both of you. Be aware that some roadside rest stops have specific areas designated for dogs and have signs posted stating where dogs may or may not be, and whether or not they need to be on a leash.

Keep some disposable potty pads available in the car in case you can’t stop when your dog needs to go to the bathroom, particularly if they are nervous travelers. It might be a good idea to put them on the floor and seat area to prevent accidents from messing up your car. Also keep bags in the car for gathering their droppings.

Comfort and Cleanliness

Whether your dog is more comfortable on the floor or up on a seat, you can make her feel more comfortable and secure on a long trip by creating a cozy spot. Bring along a familiar blanket or have one specifically designated for car travel. Use something that is easily washable in case of accidents, car sickness, spilled food and just normal dog mess. If your dog feels comfortable on the trip, they will be more relaxed and stay calmer on the long drive.

Bring along some towels and a roll of paper towels for clean up in the car along the way. Don’t forget a garbage bag for disposable items.


If you need to stop someplace to sleep, check ahead of time along your route to find lodging that allows dogs. Not all places are pet friendly. Some camp sites, hotels and motels may have regulations concerning dog lodging.

Be prepared and pack ahead of time for a long car trip with your dog. Make a list to be sure you don’t forget anything you may need to care for your dog properly on the drive. Bring your vet’s contact number in case you need to reach them while on your trip. Don’t forget your dog’s leash, collar, identification and licensing tags.

Happy travels!

Top photo by Kasia
Middle photo Masao Hirasawa
Bottom photo by Brian Smithson

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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  1. DMatsuura says:

    Working for CANIDAE we many times take our dogs with us to events. We pack the car so full of CANIDAE samples and equipment, the only safe place left for our dogs are in their crates. Their crates contain everything they need to be comfy and safe – crate pad, water bucket, toys and chewies. Lucky dogs. Diane @ CANIDAE