Traveling with a Dog in a Car→
Traveling with a beloved dog is both necessary and stressful for a lot of travelers. I have been asked numerous times how I manage to do this when I take long road trips in the summer. It isn’t easy and it takes a lot of prior planning to make sure that everything is packed for Scout the Beagle. By being well prepared, the trips are guaranteed to be more enjoyable and less stressful.
Scout the Traveling Dog
Scout is my extremely spoiled 10-year-old (on July 16th) miniature beagle that weighs about 25 lbs. I got Scout in Colorado when she was 8 weeks old and she has been traveling with me ever since. Scout has been all over most of the United States. Some of her travels have taken her along the entire West Coast, from Southern California all the way to Seattle. She has also traveled north to Montana and Michigan and traveled the entire stretch of Interstate 10, from coast to coast. This is really just the tip of the iceberg though. My father-in-law refers to Scout as a high mileage pup and that is completely accurate!
Summer Road Trip
This summer won’t be any different for Scout as my husband and I are taking an 8-week road trip to Colorado. During these 8-weeks, we will be staying in hotels while on the road, as well as several different homes and a couple weeks in our camper. We will be visiting towns and cities throughout Colorado. We will be in Denver and Colorado Springs as well as Salida, Breckenridge, Aspen and Steamboat, just to name a few.
Traveling with Dogs in Hotels
For the hotels while we are traveling to and from Colorado, I book pet-friendly hotels along our route weeks in advance. I prefer to have reservations so I don’t have to search for a pet-friendly hotel each night. There is always a pet fee in a hotel, but it is worth paying the extra money for Scout to be with us. Luckily, Scout is one of the few beagles I know that isn’t much of a barker, so hotels are generally no problem for us. Just check the floors in the room after you check in. Scout found an old french fry under a chair once and ended up throwing up. Happens! Anyway, when traveling with a dog, I tend to book chain hotels that take pets and have a continental breakfast, in case you’re wondering.
Vet Visits before Traveling
Prior to each summer trip, I take Scout into her vet for a bath, cutting of her nails, cleaning of her ears and to have her anal glands expressed. Yes, this sounds disgusting but beagles are prone to this. So, there you have it! I will have to make Scout a vet appointment in Colorado as well for her anal glands. She has to have them expressed about every 6 weeks. Besides all of that, I also make sure that Scout is caught up on all of her shots. You should always have a vet plan when you are traveling with your dog.
Traveling Items for Dog
Now that you have an idea of what steps I take prior to the trip, I also have to purchase and pack all kinds of items for Scout. I will explain what items I pack by separating them into paragraphs and lists.
Obviously this is extremely important and Scout is on a prescription food that I can’t just buy anywhere. Scout has a sensitive tummy as well so if I don’t have enough of her food, it is not easy to switch her to something else. I always pack enough for the full 8 weeks and a little extra so I don’t have to worry about finding her food while traveling. I have also included in this category Scout’s regular treats and her dental chews that she gets each day.
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Digestive Care i/d (Cans)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Digestive Care i/d Low Fat (Bagged Dry)
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Care t/d Treats
- Oravet Dental Hygiene Chews
Scout is unfortunately a bit melodramatic and is filled with anxiety at times. In the past several years she has been with me going all the way back and forth across the United States for 3 full days of traveling. That’s hard on a dog and Scout is no exception. It is very important for me to make sure that Scout is as comfortable as possible on these long hard days. I pack several “calming” items for her and start them a few days ahead of when we head out on the road. This helps Scout tremendously. Also included in this list is Pepcid that Scout takes for her sensitive tummy every night and some allergy medication.
Many years ago we were in Malibu, California camping in our old 5th wheel across the street from the ocean. This was one of my favorite campgrounds by the way! Anyway, on our last full day there, having walked Scout in the canyons beside the campground every day, I noticed that Scout looked slightly different in her face. I continued to watch her throughout the day and by that evening Scout’s face looked like a Shar Pei!
I was completely freaked out and in a town I was unfamiliar with. We were heading to my in-laws in Palm Springs, California, a few hours away, the next morning. We left early and on the way I contacted a vet hospital in that area and got her in as soon as we got to town. Unfortunately, they couldn’t ascertain exactly what had happened to my poor beagle but guessed that she may have been stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction. I now travel with allergy medicine, both prescription and over the counter.
- Adaptil Calming and Comfort Collars (for anxiety)
- Composure Pro Soft Chews (for anxiety)
- Famotidine 20 mg (Pepcid equivalent for sensitive tummy )
- Pill Pockets (for hiding Pepcid equivalent)
- Oratene Water Additive (for fresh breath)
- Prednisone Pills (Prescription for allergic reaction)
- Benadryl Antihistamine 25 mg (otc for allergic reaction)
Of course Scout has her own travel bag! In it is all things that Scout needs for an extended trip to accommodate her everyday basic needs. None of these need explaining.
- Water Bowl
- Food Bowl
- Poop Bags
- Can Opener
- Extra Leash
Miscellaneous Travel Items
I also always travel with Scout’s crate and crate pad. Scout doesn’t need these at home, but I never know if she would be in a situation to need them. Examples of this would be if she got hurt and needed to be immobile or if she needed to be crated while I was away from her for some reason. I have stayed with family that crate their dogs when they leave the house, so of course I crate Scout in that instance.
I obviously travel with Scout’s harness and regular retractable leash as well as her doggie bed. I’m a big fan of harnesses as it is much safer and more comfortable for her than a leash hooked to her collar. The doggie bed is used as Scout’s travel bed in our truck. That is how she prefers to travel and she isn’t one to bounce around the truck at all! She lays in her bed and for the most part stays there for the duration of any driving.
- Crate Pad
- Retractable Leash
In Truck (Permanent for Trip)
When planning for a long trip, like this summer, I place certain items in the truck that I know Scout will need as we are driving. On long driving days, we always take the time to walk Scout at a rest area at least once during the day. Scout also gets out of the truck almost every time we stop for gas. I try to find grass and walk her around a bit so she can do her business. I also pack a small towel to dry Scout’s paws when it’s raining or wet before she gets back in the truck.
One of the most important things to have in the truck is water! I travel with a case of water and always have a fresh water bottle right next to Scout’s water bowl that stays in the truck. I try to use bottled water when on a trip because Scout is familiar with it. Water in other areas may not taste the same. We also never leave Scout in the truck alone if possible.
- Water Bottles
- Poop Bags
- Water Bowl
Since there is always a cooler in the truck during long road trips, I came up with a way to make Scout’s feedings more simple. Scout gets a small amount of both canned and dry dog food twice a day. So, I package her meals in a small ziploc and keep it in the cooler. I package however many she needs for each part of the road trip. I don’t do this if we are going to be in one place. This is only for driving days.
- Ziplocs with canned and dry food mix
This is what it takes to travel with Scout for an 8-week road trip. The best advice I can give is to be consistent when traveling with a dog. My husband and I have a routine that we follow each day/night in a hotel on driving days. This allows for Scout to know what is going to happen each night. We are early risers on driving days but like to finish driving before dinner. Once we get settled in our room, my husband and I feed Scout her dinner and then we go to dinner somewhere close by, within walking distance if we can help it.
Scout sleeps while we are having dinner since she doesn’t sleep much while we are driving. She rests but doesn’t sleep. When we return to the hotel, we always take Scout for a walk around the hotel parking lot. My husband and I try to find a license plate for each of the 50 states when driving both to Colorado and back to Florida. It’s fun and helps pass the time and these hotel parking lots at night are always a good place to look!
What Works for Us
I hope this helps you on your travels with your doggie. Use your best judgement for your own dog and talk to your vet about any questions you have before you travel. The American Kennel Club also has information about traveling with a dog that you may want to read. If you think I have missed something, please comment below. You may give me a better idea for something. This is just what works for us right now. Before you go, check out Scout’s page on my website. She would love some comments!