Whether you’re running errands in your neighborhood or embarking on a cross-country road trip, if your pet is going along there are a few pet travel essentials that should always be in your car. You never know when a flat tire, family emergency, or unexpected opportunity might lead to a change of plans. Being prepared allows you to turn on a dime and relax … knowing that all your pets’ needs will be met.

Car organizer stocked with pet travel essentials

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Stay Organized

Hold on! I can already hear you thinking, “Just what I need, Amy … more stuff floating around in my car!” And I get it. That’s why I recommend a seat back organizer. They come in various shapes and sizes, so find one with plenty of pockets to hold all your bits and pieces.

Pet Travel Essentials

Now that you’re ready to roll, let’s gather the following pet travel essentials:

Pet Restraints – The most important item on any pet friendly road trip is a way to restrain your pet in the car. You can choose a secured carrier or crate. Or go with a crash-tested seat belt harnesses like us. Either way, making sure you all come home safely is always the first priority.

READ MORE ⇒ State Laws Require Pet Restraints in Vehicles

Water – The second most important thing to pack for your pet (and yourself) is water. We always have a few refillable, BPA-free water bottles in the car. If you get held up for any reason – especially on a hot day – not having enough water can be dangerous. So be sure to fill the bottles every time you leave.

Travel Bowl – Schlepping that water around isn’t going to do your pup much good if you don’t have a bowl for him! Collapsible bowls are a great choice for the car, because they tuck away neatly until needed.

First Aid Kit – Accidents happen, and a well-stocked first aid kit will come in handy should you or your pooch suffer a minor injury.

READ MORE ⇒ What You Should Know About Emergency Vets (Before You Need One)


Waste Bags – Dogs seem to have a knack for sensing when we’re not carrying waste bags, and that’s the moment they decide to go! Having a healthy supply of waste bags on hand will ensure that you’re never left … holding the bag.

Pet WipesPre-moistened wipes are convenient for cleaning up messes of all kinds. And when you travel with pets, you can always count on a few messes!

Odor Eliminator – If the pet messes you encounter are stinky, you’ll be glad you packed a good pet odor eliminator.

Food and Treats: Miss a meal and you’ll have a very unhappy pet on your hands! Dehydrated pet food, like The Honest Kitchen, is especially convenient because it takes up little space and, when mixed with water, helps your pet stay hydrated. And don’t forget to pack plenty of treats for rewarding good road trip behavior!

Expert Tip: Stow all dog food and treats in a zipper compartment, or your pup might help himself while you’re focused on driving.  Learned from experience after an entire bag of  treats “went missing.”

Medication – If your pet requires medication at a specific time of the day, it’s a good idea to always have a dose or two with you. So if you’re running late, you can still give your pet his meds on schedule. A pill carrier is a convenient way to stay organized.

Vaccination Records – Some dog parks, campground, and doggy day care facilities require proof of vaccination. Keep a copy of these records in your go-bag, and you’ll never be caught without them.

Flashlight – Shedding additional light on the subject sometimes helps.


Doggy Shammy – Downpours, puddles, a spontaneous splash at the beach … Buster even fell in a lake once! Sometimes dogs get wet, and when you need to get them dry again a microfiber towel works great and packs up small.

Extra Leash – We always keep an extra leash on hand, just in case one of ours breaks. It’s also great if you come across a lost dog who needs a little help getting back home.

Photos of your Pet: In case your pet gets separated from you, you can organize a quick search party if you have a photo to pass around.

Bells and Whistles – Not really … it’s actually a speaker pre-loaded with music to help dogs relax. When we need to leave the Myles in the car for a few minutes, it helps to turn on the music player.

Brindle puppy in red safety harness in the back seat of a car

As you can tell, when it comes to your pets’ well-being, being prepared can make all the difference. Before your next road trip, be sure you have all the pet travel essentials in the car and ready to go.

Are you planning a pet friendly vacation? What else is on your packing list?

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