How to Drive Cross Country With a Dog


Traveling cross country with your pooch can be an enjoyable bonding experience or a miserable trip for everyone. Advance preparation, including short pre-trip outings to test your dog’s road legs and a visit to your vet, can help calm the travel waters.

Plan Your Route

Map out how far you’ll travel each day and make advanced reservations at pet-friendly hotels or motels along the way. You’ll want to stop frequently to take your dog out for a quick walk, a small snack such as a doggie treat and a water break. Choose rest areas with large open spaces over busy truck stops, and always keep your dog safely leashed.


  • When booking accommodations, ask for ground floor rooms so you can easily take your dog in and out for bathroom breaks.


  • According to pet expert Cesar Chavez and the American Kennel Club, it's best to limit your dog’s food intake during travel to reduce the potential for car sickness. However, make sure fresh water is always available.

Make Test Runs

Take your dog for short trips to get him accustomed to riding in a car. Gradually lengthen the distance traveled to ensure he doesn’t get carsick or anxious. If he displays anxiety or experiences nausea, these are issues to resolve with your vet before embarking on a long road trip.


  • Dogs can get carsick in environments that are too warm, so keep your air conditioner on or a window cracked so your pup has a continual flow of air.

Plan a Vet Check-Up

Take your dog for a check-up to ensure he’s up-to-date on immunizations. If your dog has shown any anxiety on short road trips, tell your vet. He may prescribe an anti-nausea medication or an anti-anxiety medication to use along the way if your dog starts to show signs of stress.


  • Your dog should be wearing a current rabies tag and an ID tag with your name and cell phone number on it.

Prepare a Travel Pack

Make a dog travel kit containing pee pads, paper and cloth towels, unscented baby wipes, travel water and dog bowls and favorite chew toys. Before you set off, pack food, water and a few small pieces of non-chocolate candy for your pup, such as jelly beans. According to Chavez, a little sugar can help calm a dog’s upset stomach if he starts to get nauseated along the way.


  • Being prepared for minor pet accidents will make the trip less stressful for everyone.


  • Never leave your dog unattended when traveling, and be especially mindful of hot or warm weather conditions. A dog should never be left alone in a car for any length of time.

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