This post is sponsored by Autotrader; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

I’m excited to share this fun post because it combines two of my favorite things: road trips and dogs! My friends at Autotrader are also big fans of road tripping with their four-legged besties, so much so that they have released a great list of pet-friendly vehicles and tips for road tripping with pets, just in time for National Dog Day!

As many of you know, I am OBSESSED with my four-legged friend, Ella, who has been my little side-kick for nearly 10 years. We’ve been through so much together: law school, studying for the bar exam, starting my career and my wedding. Phew!

An experience Ella and I have shared over the years: ROAD TRIPS. In the 10 years we’ve been together, Ella has gotten a large dose of life in the passenger seat.  I’m serious when I say she is a well-traveled little girl! Reminiscing about those early days reminds me of Ella’s first car ride in December of 2007, when I first brought her home from Opelika, Alabama, where the rescue I adopted her through was located. Apparently my friends at Autotrader feel the same way about road tripping with their pups, because they are offering a “New Dog Smell” car air-freshener as part of their celebration of National Dog Day. For every order, Autotrader will give an in-kind donation to the Humane Society to help support adoption efforts at shelters across the country.  They are only offered for a limited time, so make sure you snap one up ASAP to get your warm fuzzies going and to help out some doggies in need.

Autotrader’s National Dog Day celebration is perfect timing since I know a lot of people travel with their furry BFFs over the Labor Day weekend.  If you and your pup fall into this category, check out these Great Tips for Dog Lovers.  Below, I’ve combined some of Autotrader’s tips with my own to help you and your pet prepare for your next big adventure!

Tips for Road Tripping with your Dog

Talk to your vet.

Make sure your pet’s vaccinations, identification tags, heart worm, and insect treatments are current. This is especially important if you’re crossing state lines. Travel can expose your pet to different diseases and if they are current on their shots, they have a better chance of fighting off any nasty bugs. Does your dog get carsick?  Ask your vet for a motion sickness prescription (1 in 5 dogs experience motion sickness). If you have a young puppy, consider postponing your trip until your baby has had all his shots (usually 3-4 months), especially if you know your puppy will be in contact with other animals.

Invest in a doggie car harness.

We have one similar to the Mighty Paw Safety Belt and the one above being worn by Mac. The harness has lasted years and is super easy to use. We’re all familiar with the iconic image of man’s best friend with his head out the window, fur blowing in the wind, loving every minute of riding shotgun. But here’s the thing: just don’t do it (aside for a picture when the car is stationary). It’s not safe for you or Fido if he isn’t properly restrained.

If your pet isn’t feeling the safety harness, a crate is the way to go. As you can see from the above photo, Archie loves traveling in his crate. I also recommend crates for younger dogs in case of accidents or chewing incidents. This one from Gunner Kennels gets top marks from the Center for Pet Safety. Most dogs enjoy their crate and it reminds them of home, so if your doggie is nervous, the crate is probably the best option.

Speaking of crates…This is where Autotrader’s list of 7 Great Cars for Dog Owners comes in: you’re going to need some room for Fido’s accommodations. The obvious choice is an SUV, but not everyone has the space – literally or financially! I was glad to see options like the 2017 Honda Fit, which offers a great starting price and the reliability of the Honda name. The above photo is of Ella’s friend Kaija in her mom Brittany’s Honda Fit. I also love the 2018 Volvo XC60 – you can’t beat the combo of luxury and safety. After checking Autotrader’s list, I think the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox and the 2017 Nissan Rogue may be close contenders.

Get some exercise!

You’re going to be stuck in a car for several hours, and while you know there’s something fun at the end of the road, Fido has no idea where he’s headed or how long the ride will last. Help him work off any nervous energy and stave off boredom by taking him for a good walk, throwing his ball, or going on a run before you buckle him in. He will likely sleep the first few hours you’re on the road, which means less boredom, less potential for bad behavior and less “Mom are we there yet” whining.

Make frequent stops.

This one is KEY! Unlike me and you, dogs can’t use iPads or log into Facebook, so the best way to handle their boredom is to make frequent stops and let them sniff out their new surroundings. Make sure you offer them water so they stay hydrated, and give them a treat or two. Let them potty every few hours and they will be much better travelers! Did Fido have an accident? Keep some baby wipes and disposable trash bags on hand just in case.

Have a spare car key.

So….you’ve handled Fido’s pit stops, but what about you? If you’re traveling alone, this can be an issue since you don’t want to leave your pet in a running car by himself, but you can’t leave him in the car with no air conditioning. What to do? Bring a spare key with you. Park in the shade, leave your car running with the AC on, and use the spare key to lock your original set of car keys in the car. This way, Fido gets his air, and your car is still locked and protected. You should be good to go in the few minutes it takes to run inside and use the restroom.

Pack accordingly.

You probably check the weather before you head out on any trip so you know what to pack, so do the same for your favorite four-legged companion! Are you headed someplace super-hot for some beach time? Consider a battery operated fan (you can get these at the Dollar Store!) so Fido doesn’t spend his trip panting. If your trip calls for colder temps, consider packing a sweater or an extra blanket to help keep your pet nice and toasty. Like you, Fido needs his medication, and he’ll likely enjoy having his blankie, bed, and familiar toys with him when he travels to a new place. Dogs thrive off routine, and they feel better when they have their favorite items around to make them feel comfortable. Don’t forget to pack Fido’s food and treats (hey, you may need those treats as bribes). Keeping his diet as consistent as possible will help avoid any tummy troubles, and an extra treat or two won’t hurt.

And finally…make sure you have fun!

Talk to your pet frequently to let him know you’re there, or take a page from our book and have a Whitney Houston sing-a-long for part of the ride. Try to remember that part of the fun is the journey and the time you spend bonding with your furry bestie!

Have you taken a recent road trip with your fur baby? What tips would you add to our list?

A special thanks to Ella’s furry friends (Kaija, Coco, Bella, Mac, Finn, Duncan, River, Piper, Bonnie, Lucy, Archie, Reggie, Joey & Pawley) for helping inspire this post!

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