You already know the obvious stuff — pack your dog's favorite toys, food and an old towel to clean dirty paws when you hit the road together. But here are a few tips you may...

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You already know the obvious stuff — pack your dog’s favorite toys, food and an old towel to clean dirty paws when you hit the road together. But here are a few tips you may not have thought of:

• Anticipate the possibility that your dog may get lost and bring along a photo. Attach to the dog’s collar the name and address of your lodging; some hotels provide tags, or you can make an ID at many pet shops. Or simply staple a hotel matchbook cover to your dog’s collar.

• Pack a flashlight for nighttime nature calls.

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• Bring your vet’s after-hours number and your dog’s vaccination records.

• Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel door when you’re out of the room to prevent your pet from possibly escaping if a housekeeper enters — or from attacking the unsuspecting employee.

• Reduce the threat of car sickness by feeding your dog a few hours before traveling.

• If your dog has a sensitive stomach, fill water bottles with the tap water your pet usually drinks.

• A resealable bag serves as a handy disposable drinking vessel on the road.

• Protect your pup when the car is moving, either by keeping the dog in a cage or buying a seatbelt restraint made especially for dogs (cages are preferred as the safest method, and there is some controversy about whether seat restraints are safe and effective).

• Most dogs love sticking their heads out of the car window. However, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warns that this puts the animals in danger of being hit by debris or getting inner ear damage and lung infections.

• Policies change, so check your hotel’s rules when making reservations, and again before leaving home. Some hotels have weight restrictions — some Four Seasons, for example, limit pets to a mere 15 pounds. So be specific, as in: “Will you allow a 180-pound mastiff?” You might want to ask by e-mail so you’ll have a record of the response.

• Plan activities before leaving home and accept that you’re exchanging canine companionship for personal freedom. If you don’t intend to spend much of the trip with your dog, leave your four-footed pal at home.


— The Washington Post