Planning a road trip with your canine companion? Here’s a few important things to add to your packing list!
Most Canadians love road trips – the open highway, beautiful scenery and promise of adventure draws us out in droves every year. Of course, bringing your dog along makes the trip even more fun! And with a little planning, you’re guaranteed to find lots of dog-friendly activities you can both enjoy. Just make sure you’re prepared for surprises along the way (that’s just part of the adventure!). Start with a proper travel restraint or crate for inside the vehicle, as well as a good-sized travel carry bag dedicated to your dog’s things. Then pack the bag with these must-have doggie items:
1. Meal basics
It’s always a good idea to pack a 4 L jug of water, along with your dog’s water and food bowls. Depending on where you’re going, you’ll also need several days’ worth of your dog’s regular food. Kibble, canned, and dehydrated or freeze-dried is easier to pack than fresh, raw or frozen. You can manage the latter if you have a large cooler and can replace ice as you go. Do a little research ahead of time to see if you can locate your dog’s brand of pet food at your destination. Pack a supply of treats as well, preferably ones you can store at room temperature.
2. Dog toys
Your dog will do lots of sleeping in the car, but when she’s awake, her favourite chews and toys will provide a pleasant distraction. And surrounding her with familiar items will make her feel more comfortable.
3. Medical records
Tuck a hard copy of your dog’s veterinary records in his “carry bag”. Consider taking photos of them with your phone so you also have an easily accessible digital record. If your dog needs emergency veterinary care, you will be able to produce records, labs, and treatment dates so the clinic can provide the best care possible.
4. Dog first aid kit
If you travel with your dog, keep a doggie first aid kit in the car at all times. Check it before you head out on your trip to make sure it’s well stocked and nothing has expired. Think about whether you’ll need any special items related to your destination, such as natural bug deterrent spray. If you’re traveling to a specific destination, research the emergency vet clinics in that area and put the contact info in both your phone and your first aid kit.
5. The right gear
Does your dog have all the accessories she’ll need for your trip? Depending on where you’re going and the time of year, she may need a dog coat or sweater, dog boots, or a life jacket. For hiking, you may want to think about a harness so she can carry her own water. Also, throw in an extra leash, just in case your go-to leash gets damaged or lost.
6. Clean-up supplies
Accidents do happen so it’s best to be prepared. Pack old towels, pet wipes, poop bags, and an enzyme-based fabric/carpet cleaner. And don’t forget some hand sanitizer for yourself, as well as a bottle of water for cleaning up in the car if necessary. Throw in a bar or bottle of dog shampoo and a dog brush just in case.
For male dogs, you may want to consider a belly band. Designed to prevent your dog from leaving his mark on furniture, this fabric band simply slips around his “privates” so he can’t pee.
Traveling to the US?
Here’s what you need to know about your dog’s food:
In general, you can bring pet food purchased in Canada into the US. But there are restrictions:
- Pet food containing lamb, sheep or goat meat is prohibited.
- Only 22.7 kg (50 lbs) or less is allowable through United States land border ports of entry, while 9 kg (20 lbs) or less is allowable through airports or seaports of entry.
- Containers of pet food must be sealed (never opened) in commercial packaging and must be shelf stable (not needing refrigeration). Pet food containing sun-dried, freeze-dried or raw products are not allowed.
- Labels on pet food packaging must clearly list the ingredients and country of origin.
- Only pet food manufactured in Canada or the United States is allowable.
Returning to Canada?
Travellers may bring into Canada a maximum of 20 kg of dog food. The food must meet all the following requirements:
- It must be of United States origin and be commercially packaged.
- It must be in your possession at your time of entry from the US.
- The dog that will eat the food must accompany you at the time of entry.
- The pet food is fed only to the dog that accompanied you into Canada.