*Updated: May 24, 2023
The key to packing your pup for a trip is a great dog travel checklist done in stages. While a vacation can be exciting and relaxing, the preparation can take a bit of work. But it’s all worth it. Of course, the prep includes getting your kids ready, yourself, your car, and your home ready. If you’re like me you have a list for everything. Do you also have a checklist for your dog? After I forgot most of my dog, Henry’s supplies at home, I learned a few great tricks. I now break my dog travel checklist down into manageable parts so I don’t forget anything. I’m certain my tricks will help you as well.
Additionally, I’m including a FREE dog travel checklist. Don’t forget to download your copy!
Budget Tip: Traveling with your dog can seem overwhelming at times. But a little preparation will go a long ways and you'll avoid any unnecessary trips to the store for items you forgot at home. Forgotten items purchased where you can are often very expensive (talking from experience). I also, like preparing in steps. Then on your vacation you can simply relax and spend more time on walks, hikes, exploring, and making memories knowing your trip is within your budget. That's priceless and a major win!
1. Pre-departure for your dog travel adventures
- Verify your dog has his records up to date
- Make a hard copy of his health certificate and vaccine records
- Refill any RXs he may need
- If your dog is an anxious traveler, you may want to talk with your veterinarian about CBD, other alternatives, and prescriptions to assist him in his car travel.
- Ensure that his ID tag is correct and readable
- Check out where you will be staying and make sure it’s pet friendly
- Ensure there are local veterinarians, just in case
- Write down your dog’s microchip number, where he’s registered, and make sure all the information is up-to-date just in case you get separated.
Next, I move on to what I like to call my Henry’s grab-and-go bag. This will include things he may need on the road or will need soon after we arrive at our destination.
2. Grab-and-go bag for your dog
- Foldable water bowl
- Poop bags
- Several water bottles
- Copy of your dog’s health and vaccine records
- Good picture of your dog, just in case
- Harness (if your dog isn’t wearing it in the car)
- Doggie wipes aren’t just for messy pups. You never know what you may encounter on the road.
- 3-4 packages of food (ziplock bags will work or you can use small BPA free plastic containers)
- 3-4 doses of any RXs your dog may need
- Other supplements your dog may need (I now leave the Benadryl at home because Henry’s allergic to it)
- Dog first aid kit (or you can also put one together yourself)
- A ball or toy to release a little energy during potty breaks
- A small amount of treats, because he’s bound to be a good boy. Although, I like to share my carrots, which are a bit healthier.
Do you give your dog Benadryl? You might be surprised to learn that a dog can develop a severe allergic reaction to Benadryl after years of use. This happened with Henry. In this article, I discuss what happened and the costs associated with it.
After the grab-and-go bag is packed, I turn my attention to his “suitcase”, which could just be a bigger duffle bag. These are things your dog shouldn’t need while traveling but will need during your vacation.
3. Dog suitcase
- 1-2 Towels
- 1-2 blankets
- 1 bed
- RXs for the duration of the vacation
- Food should be enough for the holiday duration. Keep in mind that if you are planning on being very active with lots of hiking or activities, your dog may need a little more food than normal to maintain his weight.
- Paw booties – these are great to protect delicate paws on rocky hikes, hot cement, weedy walks, and snowy paths.
- 3-4 favorites toys
- Extra poop bags (I use these ones with Henry)
- Shampoo and conditioner (I’m always amazed at how dirty a dog can get exploring)
- Flashlight for the nighttime pee walks
- Extra doggie wipes, because, well we all know.
- More treats, because he’s certain to be a good dog or if you’re like me focus more on natural treats, like carrots and apples.
- Raincoat/Sweater/Coat/Cooling Vest depending on the time of year and where you go
- Dental supplies
- Brush for grooming
- Pee pads if you have a puppy or just in case
- Stain and Odor remover spray – mostly if you have a puppy who’s not completely potty trained
- Paper towels because you never know
- Extra ziplock bags
- Lint roller
Another great tip I learned from my mother as a child was to always pack 2-3 days extra of anything essential item when packing for a vacation. This includes things like medications or food. I’ve been grateful for this piece of advice on more than one occasion.
4. Car dog travel essentials
- Crate (you may want to travel with your dog crated. He or you may travel better crated).
- Pad for the crate so that he’s comfortable.
- Crate fan to prevent overheating
- Safety belt or booster seat and safety belt. My dog does better if he can see out so he has a booster seat with a safety belt.
- Towel, blanket, or seat cover if you have a high-shedding dog and want to preserve your car seats one of these is essential.
So, what really are the cost benefits of planning with packing my dog’s vacation supplies?
This is a great question. And I know it can happen often because let’s face it, life happens. I learned the hard way that when you rush, you tend to forget. That means you have to make an emergency run to the nearest pet store to get everything you forgot. Unfortunately, that can be very pricey. For me, it meant buying double supplies of items I really didn’t need at the moment like a big brush, bowls, dog wipes, vitamins, and a leash.
Yep, I pulled a major oops! The good news was that I got some credit card points. But I didn’t need that added expense at that point. So, from that experience, I learned how to pack for Henry in stages. I won’t make that mistake again. And I also created the dog travel checklist, which you can download for free. It really does help.
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Summary of the best dog travel checklist
In this post, we examined how to break down your dog’s travel checklist into manageable bits, including pre-departure, grab-and-go dog bag, dog suitcase, and finally, dog car essentials. While it can be overwhelming to prepare for a vacation, preparation is key and a proper checklist is always helpful.