10 products that make traveling with dogs easier
You'll be grateful to have them whenever you take your pup on the go.
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As the number of people getting COVID vaccinations rises, folks are looking forward to traveling once again. But after spending so many months at home, the idea of leaving a beloved pup behind may be simply unacceptable. At least, that's how I feel about my new puppy, Cash, who will be my travel sidekick once I'm fully vaccinated. But it isn't quite so simple, explains Dr. Katy Nelson, a senior veterinarian at Chewy.
“Before you travel anywhere with your pet, do plenty of research,” she says. “Map out overnight accommodations ahead of time to ensure they’re pet-friendly and you don’t run into any last-minute issues.” Also, depending on where you travel and how—whether by car, train, plane, or boat—you may need to see your vet in advance and get a health certificate or other proof that your dog is up to date on their vaccines and deworming. If you’re flying somewhere, check with your airline about their pet travel policies, which likely have changed since the last time you flew.
With that advice in mind, you may want to pick up a few products that can make the process of traveling itself go more smoothly, from a durable carrier and ultra-absorbent pee pads to a sturdy harness and a water-resistant bags to carry all the gear in.
1. A high-quality mesh pet carrier
My puppy, Cash, was 3.1 pounds when I got him, and now, a little over a month later, he’s 6.2. As a small-puppy owner, having a high-quality pet carrier was a must for me from the get-go. From traveling from point A to point B locally for everyday errands to taking my first COVID-friendly weekend getaway, I wanted to ensure that Cash was safe and comfortable en route. After much trial and error, I stumbled upon Roverlund’s highly-rated Out-of-Office Pet Carrier and found it works best for me.
The Roverlund difference comes down to three key points. First, it’s sturdy. While it can be folded down for storage, once popped up, the edges are reinforced with wire so it keeps its form at all times (no flimsiness here!). Second, it’s roomy. Unlike a Wild One carrier I tried previously, Roverlund’s maintains a rectangular shape that lets Cash move around. Lastly, it’s easy to see through, which I imagine makes Cash feel less caged. As a result, my little monkey (he has a million nicknames, okay?) jumps into his carrier even when we’re not headed out the door. Because of this, Roverlund reigns supreme for me and my little pal.
Travel Tip: Practice beforehand. “Make your pets’ travel carrier a safe space,” Nelson says. “Have them spend time in their crate/carrier before the trip and reward them with treats and praise every time they go inside it. For road trips, start with short car rides to the park. From there, you can gradually increase the length of trips. If you have a pet who gets anxious while traveling, it helps to exercise them before you start your trip. They’ll be a lot calmer after they expend any pent-up energy.”
2. A secure pet car seat
While Cash is willing to ride in his crate strapped in the car, I don’t always have the time or energy to carry out a bulky carrier and finagle my seatbelt to strap it in. So, I began looking for alternatives. Since Cash is so little (and so rambunctious) I didn’t want him to run around the car, so I found a best-selling pet car seat with more than 6,000 reviews on Amazon.
The sturdy car seat is secured with a seatbelt, features two security tethers (which I hook to Cash’s harness) to ensure that your pup is safe for the ride, and is elevated so that they can look out the window. The seat itself is covered in a plush, machine-washable cover that Cash loves to cuddle up in, while the raised sides give him a place to rest his head. Needless to say, he’s a happy camper riding in this seat and other drivers can’t help but smile when they sneak a peek of him in his set-up.
3. An extremely cozy blanket or two
If you like to travel in comfort, assume that your pup does, too. One of the easiest ways to make travel comfortable for your pet is to line their carrier with the softest blanket imaginable. While plenty of soft blankets exist, my all-time favorite blankets for Cash is a pet-friendly sherpa-style one. The Amazon best-seller has more than 16,000 reviewers and is available in five sizes and six colors. I have the beige blanket in small for his Roverlund carrier and the medium for his car seat. He adores both.
Travel Tip: Make traveling feel like home. “A new environment can be a lot for your pet to take in,” Nelson explains. “Help them feel more comfortable by bringing along their favorite toy or blanket so they can feel close to home.”
4. A bag of delicious treats
It’s common for puppies (and dogs) to get a little uneasy while traveling. After all, they may not understand where they’re going or why they are in a car (or another mode of travel) in the first place. Because of this—and because my Cash can be a scaredy pup—I make sure to have his favorite Bil-Jac Peanut Butter & Banana dog treats stocked and ready to go in my car and in his travel bag. That way, as soon as we get in the car and he starts to look frantic, I can tell him what a good boy he is and give him a treat. Once he has his treat, he knows everything’s okay, and he settles in for the ride.
5. A reliable harness and leash
Whether I’m traveling or not, if Cash is outside, he’s wearing a harness and a leash—I don’t take any chances. By putting a pup in a harness (rather than just a collar) you’ll not only have a better grip on your fur baby, you’ll keep their neck safe. While I love Cash’s Puppia Soft Dog Harness for everyday wear, I’m also a big fan of the Wild One Harness Walk Kit that includes a high-quality padded harness, leash, collar, and poop bag holder, which is a matching set that just gives me joy.
6. A pack of handy dog wipes
As Cash isn’t 100% vaccinated due to his age, I'm proactive about protecting him from germs by wiping his paws off as soon as we get inside so he doesn’t have a chance to lick up any nasties. These premoistened ones from Nature’s Miracle have a subtle fresh scent and claim to contain zero irritating ingredients, making them a must in Cash’s travel bag and at home.
7. A pack of pee pads
Accidents are more likely to happen in unfamiliar places, but if you bring pee pads along for the ride—especially if you already use them at home—your pup will be more likely to go in the designated area as opposed to, you know, on your cousin’s favorite blanket (because, yes, I learned that the hard way). Will potty pads ensure that your pup never goes to the bathroom in the wrong place? No, but by bringing some along, you're at least prepared to prevent it. I love these popular Wee-Wee pads because they catch all his waste and I don’t have to worry about anything seeping through.
8. A bottle of stain and odor eliminator
If you’re traveling by car or train, you have fewer restrictions on liquids you can bring along. And thank goodness because you’ll be grateful to have a bottle of stain and odor remover when traveling with a dog. After all, if your pup isn’t fully potty trained or if they simply lose their wits in unfamiliar places, it helps to have a plan ready to go. One spritz of this stain and odor eliminator helps ensure that carpets and upholstery are left in their original glory.
9. A pop-up playpen
Once upon a time, I made sure to always have a blanket and flares in my car. Now, I make sure to have a pop-up playpen for Cash, too. That way, whether I’m headed to my parents’ house, visiting a friend, or (heaven forbid) stuck on the side of the road, I have a safe space where Cash can hang out. While I’m inclined to let Cash run free in the first two situations, having a pop-up playpen still comes in handy in the instances when he becomes too rowdy. Thankfully, the EliteField pen features a water-resistant floor that can be zipped out and washed, should he have an accident during pen time.
10. A bag to carry all of the supplies
Given just how much you’ll need to bring along for your pup—all of this, plus food, water, and toys, too—it helps to have a bag with their needs in mind. While you could throw their belongings into any old tote and call it a day, I prefer feeling organized and prepared for whatever my trip has in store.
That’s why I love this all-weather tote from Scout, which can be easily wiped down if it gets covered in mud, doggy slobber, or anything else. Made with a sturdy bottom, reinforced handles and seams, four outer pockets, and an inner zip pocket, it’s great for lugging around all of Cash’s gear. Where I use the pockets for treats, sweaters, and leashes, I like the roomy inside for potty pads, blankets, food, bowls, and toys.
Travel Tip: Know what you need before you go. “When traveling out of state or out of the country, you will need to have a domestic or international health certificate to prove that your pet is healthy enough to travel,” Nelson says. “Call your veterinarian’s office to schedule—they are usually required within 10 to 14 days of travel. Different states and countries have various requirements for travel, so your veterinarian may be the best source for that information.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.