Dog road trip essentials

The Best 13+ Dog Road Trip Essentials
for your Next Adventure

What are the BEST Must-Have dog road trip essentials on the market? That’s a question I get asked often when people read my article all about Road Trip tips for the family.

The answer actually depends on a few factors:

  • Whether you’re road tripping with a big or small dogs
  • Whether you’re road tripping with a puppy, adult or senior dog
  • How long your road trip will be
  • How much space you have to store these dog road trip essentials

In this article I will cover the best way to road trip with your canine companion and I will add some notes for additional things to consider.

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Packing your car for your Next Road Trip with your dog


The best way to organize yourself for a road trip is to have a packing list. Just like we, as people, need to have a list of important and needed items when you embark on a road trip, you should do the same for your best furry friend.

dog with owner on a road trip

Important Dog Road Trip Essentials


When you think of packing your car for a road trip, a few things come to mind:

  • How long will the ride be?
  • Where will we get food to eat?
  • Should we pack or buy snacks?

But for dog owners the preparation is a bit more involved. Dog road trip essentials may also consist of bedding and medication (if applicable). Whether you are going to visit a place or two for short day trips, weekend getaway, week long adventure or a cross-country road trip, the items may vary.

The important thing to remember is that you can buy anything along the way and that the main focus of this trip is having fun!

Car Harness –

An essential for keeping your dog safe and limit the amount of space that they will roam in the car. This dog car harness – seat belt is a great choice to minimize the need for someone to sit in the back seat with your fur baby. It clicks right into the seat belt.

Another option is a dog car harness that loops over the headrest, like this one.

The only way to guarantee their safety on a long journey or even a short car ride is to ensure they are strapped in, just like we do for people.

Car Seat –

Car travel for small dogs can be stressful. With so much space and so much movement from the car, a car seat helps them feel secure. Whether it’s securing him/her in the front seat or the back, this reduces the wiggles in the car and guarantees they won’t get injured.

Collapsible Bowls –

This is one of those dog road essentials that you cannot leave home without. It’s the first thing that should be on your list. A collapsible water bowl and food bowl do not take up much space, so it’s perfect for long car rides.

Collapsible Crate –

Some dogs prefer sleeping in a crate, so if you have the room and are taking a long road trip, it may be a good investment. Because some dogs spend plenty of time in a crate at home, this may be a good option when taking a road trip.

Options include:

Favorite Dog Food –

Your dog’s food may be one of the most comforting and familiar things you can pack. This important item should be the first thing you pack.

How much food is too much? That depends on how much your dog eats and keep in mind that some dogs eat less when in unfamiliar places.

Favorite Dog Treats/Training Treats –

What’s a road trip without some good snacks? When you hit the open road, only two things are important: gas and snacks!

Although taking your dog’s treats with you seems obvious, they can be used as a great incentive for a long trip.

Favorite Toys, Blanket and/or Dog Bed –

Your dog’s favorite chew toy may bring him/her comfort, especially if you’re staying in a hotel room. A new location may be overwhelming for your dog, so bringing something of his/her from home is a great idea.

First Aid Kit –

Accidents happen, even minor ones, so it’s always a good idea to have a pet first aid kit. From a small one you can throw in a bag to a bigger one you could leave in your car, you will be happy to have been prepared. Minor injuries can become problematic if not taken care of as soon as they happen.

Poop Bags –

Waste bags or poop bags are a necessity when you stop for potty breaks. This starter pack comes with a dispenser while other packs just come with the refills. They also come scented or unscented, which is a plus.


Other Essential Items to Consider for your Road Trip


Small Dog Water Bottle with Bowl Attachment –

When conventional travel bowls or water bowls don’t work, another solution is a handy small water bottle with bowl attachment. They come in 12 ounce size and 19 ounce size and can be put in a bag when you’re walking or hiking with your dog.

Extra Leash –

Because you never know if your current leash will break, get lost, etc, it’s always a good idea to have a back up. Whether a standard leash or a retractable one, these extra leashes are vital dog road trip essentials.

Flea Comb & Tick Remover –

Because you are venturing to a new area and new places when taking a road trip with your dog, it’s a good idea to bring along a tick remover and/or flea comb. These inexpensive tools may be a life saver, especially if you are not close to a pet store and may be dog road trip essentials you may not have thought of.

Fresh Water –

I always try to bring a filled gallon-sized water bottle with me or I purchase a big bottle of water on the way, as you are then guaranteed to have fresh water with you during pit stops where:

  • The water fountain may not work at some rest stops
  • Where there is NO water fountain or working water

New Pet Toys –

As I previously mention having your dog’s favorite toys may be one of the best dog road trip essentials, but what about offering them a new toy to keep them occupied. Bonus toys that will keep them busy, either with a squeaker or ones where you hide a treat and/or peanut butter, like these.

No Pull Dog Harness –

If you don’t have one of these yet, then maybe it’s something you should consider. For dogs who pull and to minimize choking, a no pull harness is your best bet. Some dogs also have health issues, and this is recommended by a professional dog trainer that I know.

They come in different sizes for every-sized dog and is one of the must-have items.


What things do dogs need on a Road Trip?


This epic road trip that you are planning with your furry best friend takes a lot of planning.

To eliminate the extra cost of having to buy things on the road, it may seem that this list of dog road trip essentials may appear overkill, but I’m an over-packer and always want to be prepared for worse-case scenarios.

Your Dog’s Collar/Harness –

In addition to the ‘no pull harness’ I showcase above, your dog’s own collar or harness may be just fine. Go with what you feel more comfortable with using.

Your Dog Tags, including ID Tags –

Just as important as your dog’s collar/harness, part of dog road trip essentials includes having your dogs ID tags attached to them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

dog road trip essentials

How to have the Perfect Road Trip full of Fun & Excitement


Car rides, whether long drives or short drives may be stressful to come dogs. Some dogs experience motion sickness and an upset stomach while in the car. Your best option a back seat cover may be a great option to save your seats from the aftermath of car sickness.

There are two types of seat covers: One that is more fitted and covers just the back seats and another that covers the back seats, as well as, the back of the front seats.


Tips for Having a Good Time during your Road Trip


You know your pet better than anyone else. Your best bet when taking a road trip with your best travel companion, consider how comfortable he/she will be in the back of the car.

Tip #1

Some people actually take their dog beds on their road trips to offer their dog something familiar from home.

Tip #2

People will sometimes take their dog to a local dog park right before their road trip in order to tire them out. I think this is a good idea, especially if you have a dog that is normally full of energy.

Dog at the dog park

Tip #3

Prepare for some bathroom breaks along the way. Anxiety and excitement coupled with a long day may induce a few more pit stops.

Tip #4

In case of an emergency, you should carry your veterinarian’s phone number and other contact information, as they may be able to refer you to a local animal hospital near your location.

Tip #5

Because you never know how the day will turn out, you should have some good options for pet-friendly hotels (as a back up).

Dog on bed in hotel room

Tip #6

Remember to be patient with your pet. Road trips can be a great time to bond with your pet, but it may also be stressful. Leave with plenty of time to make frequent stops, if needed, in addition to regular stops for gas and food. Your pet will thank you!


It may be overwhelming to pack for yourself on a road trip and dog road trip essentials, but it’s best to be prepared. Long hours on the road may lead to an antsy pup, so pack away!

Looking for Dog-Friendly Things to do in the Hudson Valley?
Reference my article for great ideas of things to do with your dog in the Hudson Valley.

Until the Next Adventure…

Signature for Jackie at Hudson Valley Explored


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