When you’re traveling with a dog, you always should take time to plan ahead. Just like with humans, planning ensures a comfortable journey for both you and your pup. What you need to bring really depends on the length of your trip and for this article, we are assuming a trip length of a weekend or greater. Our trip planning routine always makes sure we have our basics covered: food/water, sleeping, play, and comfort. What you actually may bring will vary depending on the age of your dog and any special circumstances. For example, if your dog needs special food or supplements, then you’ll want to bring those along.
Table of Contents
Food and Water:
- It seems obvious, but don’t forget to pack your dog’s food. We’ve almost made this mistake countless times and unless it’s on our list, we’re going to forget.
Dog Food Storage
- Make sure you’ve got something to actually transport your dog food. We’ve used ziplock bags before, however, Sora is keen to going full honey badger and tearing into the bags for some knackered snacking. We’ve switched to a stuff sack reusable style bag that ensures Sora and any other critters can’t chew through.
- Recommendations: We’ve used the Ruffwear – Kibble Kaddie Portable Dog Food Carrier and the Kurgo Kibble Carrier as food storage devices. Both have served us well.
Dog Food / Water Bowl
- Having a clean place for your dog to eat keeps them clean and happy. Regular scooping cups can work as needed, but we’ve found Sora likes to chew those up after consuming her meal. A quick switch to a silicone or sack style collapsible bowl works perfectly. They can fold up, weigh very little, and best of all are completely reusable as a water bowl.
- We also like using a bowl that doesn’t splash water when traveling in a car or mode that is bouncy.
- Recommendations: In the past we’ve used bowls from a variety of brands. We recommend a silicon bowl over a fabric based one as the waterproofing of the fabric can wear down over time and you’ll eventually have a leaky bowl. We’ve landed with Dexas Travel Pet Cup with Carabiner the as it’s easily cleanable, durable, and packs small. For no-splash we use the Kurgo Splash-Free Wander Dog Water Bowl.
Food Supplements (as needed)
- This is an optional add-on for our packing list. However, as we’ve traveled and learned more about dog nutrition we have learned the importance of making sure Sora gets all the nutrients she needs. For us, this includes extra vitamin B and natural anti-inflammatory herbs (turmeric). We’ve also started giving her extra vitamin C to combat her recent cancer issues.
- Recommendations: Every meal with like sprinkle on some Brewer’s Yeast Tablets, Oxbow Natural Science Vitamin C Supplement, and Organic Turmeric Root Powder by Anthony’s.
- If you read our blog, you know we always talk about bringing Sora’s bed is a must have when traveling. It keeps her warm, makes her feel comfortable, and gives her a little extra padding on her elderly joints.
- Recommendations: We use several different types of beds depending on the trip. For backpacking we like the Ruffwear Highlands Bed, in the trailer and flying we prefer the Kurgo Loft Wander Travel Dog Bed.
Small Towel / Paw Cleaner
- Dogs have paws and paws get dirty. And dirt doesn’t belong in the bedroom. We often will wipe Sora’s paws clean when she is coming inside for the night. This works particularly well when it’s raining or if she’s been playing in mud.
- Recommendations: Any hand towel will work just fine. We recently got our hands on the Dexas MudBuster Portlable Dog Paw Cleaner and it’s come in pretty handy too. It’s a step up from just drying the paws as it has bristles and uses water to gently scrub the paws. It took a little coaxing at first to get Sora use to using the device, but it works rather well.
- When traveling with your dog, the most important piece of gear is the leash. Sure, it serves a basic purpose, but having one that you like and fits comfortably with your hands can make all the difference. We travel with a few leashes and use them depending on the situation. We have a standard 6 footer for regular walking, a short bungee style for running (see our recent post The Ultimate Guide to Running with a Dog), and occasionally we travel with an extended distance bungee. Each one comes in handy depending on the situation.
- Recommendations: There are so many leashes on the market it’s hard to recommend just one. Our favorites include Ruffwear – Slackline Adjustable Length (6ft) as it’s very lightweight, reflective, and has the crab claw style end piece. For running we use the K9 Excursion Running Belt with a Kurgo Spring Back Leash. When in Europe we traveled with the Ruffwear Ridgeline Leash as it was great for tying Sora to trees when setting up camp. Lastly, we started using the Rad Dog Release N Run Dog Leash + Collar combo when in the woods without any risk of other dogs. It’s a nifty design as the leash retracts into the collar so your dog can run around free and you don’t have to carry a leash. Simply pull the cable when you need to grab your dog.
- Collars are very straightforward and since the dog wears them 24/7, it’s important they’re comfortable for your pup. We prefer ones that are easy to clean as Sora loves to get muddy, and have additional usage, like a bottle opener!
- Recommendations: We use the Kurgo Muck Collar as it has a bottle opener on it and it’s 100% waterproof which is easy to clean and PVC-free. When traveling in locations where Sora will be off leash at night, we prefer a light up collar. Though we have not tried this version, the LED Dog Collar, USB Rechargeable looks pretty awesome and handy when walking Sora in the rain or in the night time where cars are present.
Harness (as needed)
- We really only have one harness like item we travel with the PetSafe GentleLeader. She’s worn a Gentle Leader for nearly 9 years and while we’ve tried training her on loose leash walking It makes it easier to manager her. As a bonus, kids think it’s a muzzle are scared of it, which is great as kids are the scariest beasts to Sora. When Dave first adopted Sora, he used a front clip harness, and while this worked in limiting Sora’s pulling, she ended up developing friction burns and rashes in her front armpits.
- Recommendations: We like the PetSafe GentleLeader as it’s minimalist and a very simple design. There are other brands that make similar devices, though, we have not tried them. For a front clip harness, Sora wore the PetSafe Easy Walk Harness and it functioned well.
- It’s no secret that active breed dogs get bored really fast. If we don’t keep Sora’s brain active, she starts to get destructive or acts out. We always carry a generic toy like a tennis ball or stuffed animal (bought a Goodwill) and a brain game toy. Whenever she’s showing signs of too much energy, we will bust out a toy for playtime. This stimulation usually helps ease her mind.
- Recommendations: Any toy your dog likes will work. For the brain games, we like the Ruffwear – Gnawt-a-Rock Durable Dog Toy, as it forces Sora to use her brain to figure out how to get the food out.
- Sora sheds enough hair that when we brush her it looks like a squirrel exploded. We regularly try avoid having clumps of fur taking refuge in the corners of our tent and house. This means brushing Sora once a week or at least every other week. To be good guests, we try to brush Sora in advance so as no minimize the donations of fur.
- Recommendations: We only use one brush and we’ve had it for 10 years, the FURminator deShedding Tool for Dogs.
- If we’re traveling for longer than a week, we bring Sora’s toothbrush. Did you know brushing your dog’s teeth can help avoid other organ related problems, like heart disease ? Plus, it helps Sora’s breath and makes getting kisses much more enjoyable.
- Recommendations: We have tried a couple different brushes over the years, and eventually landed on the RoyalCare Soft Snails as it’s the only toothbrush that we can ergonomically grip and that Sora will tolerate. Traditional toothbrushes are difficult to handle and Sora ends up just chewing them.
- Like a tooth brush, we trim Sora’s nails while traveling. It prevents floors from being scratched, people being clawed, and keeps Sora more comfortable. We try to use one that’s small and compact and designed for cutting dog nails as they’re stronger than human nails. So, no toe nail clippers.
- Recommendations: Boshel Dog Nail Clippers are highly rated on Amazon for a reason. They make cutting nails easy, assuming your dog lets you!
We occasionally will travel with additional items depending on the season like a Ruffwear Swamp Vest when it’s really hot, or the Rex Specs Dog Goggles when the sun is going to be strong, or a Kurgo Surf N Turf Life Jacket if we’re going to be swimming.
That’s everything in our travel with a dog gear guide. Are there any other products you use to when traveling with your dog? Please share in the comments below.