Preparing My Dogs for a Road Trip

I’ve taken one dog on a road trip before.  Kinley and I did a 5,000+ mile road trip in 2010.  I took both Kinley and Aker on a camping trip last summer, but that was only a few hours ofKinley and Aker in the Car driving.  In May all three of us will be embarking on another 5,000+ road trip through Canada and Alaska.

As much as preparing my car is important, preparing my furry children is equally important since they rely on me for everything.  Below is a list of things I’m doing now to prepare them and a list of the items I’ll be bringing for them.  I want to make the trip comfortable for them because if they are uncomfortable the trip will be miserable for me.

I’ve done my best to accurately research the Canada entry requirements for dogs (additional links below) and their supplies, but I recommend everyone understands border regulations.  Since rules and regulations can change at any time and some can even be interpreted differently, I’ve included several links to webpages that I used for research.  What I’ve listed below should only be used as an example of what I’ll be doing for my trip.

Note:  Regulations will be different for all countries.  This information only covers Canadian border crossings.

Before Leaving

  • Vet Exam – I’ll be taking both of my “kids” in for a quick check up.  Aker in particular needs knee surgery soon, so I need to make sure we have enough medicine for the three week’s we’ll be gone.
  • Health Certificate – Near as I can tell (link below) a health certificate is not required for entry as long as the dog has been vaccinated for rabies.  I will be getting one just in case.
  • Rabies Vaccination – The rules differ depending on how old the dog is and the country in which travel originates (link below).  Both of my dogs will require proof of their vaccinations.
  • Grooming – My dogs are Shih Tzus.  They have hair that grows constantly.  I will be getting them summer cuts before our trip to limit the amount of maintenance they require while we are on the road.


  • Water – I will be bringing jugs or a case of bottled water for both myself and my dogs.  I don’t know how long it will be between stops and this is a vital supply in my opinion.Pet Supplies
  • Dog Food – There are strict regulations regarding crossing the Canadian border with dog food.  I will be following those regulations closely (I once had my dog food confiscated).  I will be bringing enough for half of my trip and then replenishing in Alaska.  I don’t want to waste too much space with a huge bag of food.
  • Treats – The same strict regulations apply to treats.  I will be bringing a small bag of treats on this trip because I never know when I’ll need to bribe one or both of my dogs.
  • Harnesses and Leashes – My furry children wear their harnesses with their license, rabies vaccination, and id tag attached.  I also always carry leashes in the car for them.
  • Medicines – It’s hard to find information on what medicines (for pets) can be transported across the border.  I’m assuming that medicines prescribed by a vet are acceptable, but I plan on consulting with my vet when I get their health certificates.  Aker is currently on Glucosamine and Rimadyl.  I also have a vet prescribed antibacterial wash that I will be taking for Kinley (he has sensitive skin and gets small wounds once in a while).  If for any reason these medicines cannot be transported over the border, I will arrange a vet visit when I arrive in Alaska.
  • First Aid Kit – I’ve already got a fully stocked first aid kit in my car.  I will add Polysporin to this kit.  My vet says that Polysporin is better for dogs than Neosporin because Neosporin has aspirin in it.  The rest of the first aid kit will work fine for dogs.
  • Kennel – I will be taking a rather large kennel with me on this trip.  Both of my dogs find security in a kennel and I want to make sure they have a place they feel safe in case they get nervous about anything.
  • Kennel Fan – I have a fan that attaches to the side of a kennel.  I’ll bring it and extra batteries just in case.
  • Toys – I’ll be bringing along a couple of stuffed animals that they can play with in the car (they don’t go crazy so it will remain safe).  I’ll also be bringing a couple of balls and a Frisbee for them to play with during the times we are stopped.
  • Grooming – I’ll be bringing along a brush, nail clippers, and shampoo.  I’m hoping they won’t need a bath during this trip but they do tend to dig when outside.
  • Bugs – I’ll be bringing along pet safe bug repellant.  We will be camping and I don’t want them to get eaten alive.
  • Bark Collar – I don’t suspect I’ll need Kinley’s bark collar, but just in case I will bring it too.  Note:  I’m not a fan of shock collars.  Kinley’s bark collar emits a quiet sound (remote controlled) which usually makes him stop.  If not, the remote also has a button to emit lemon scented citronella.  It’s unusual for him to need any more of a reminder than the sound.

Canada Border Crossing Links

Kinley in the Car

Kinley is always ready for a road trip.

Updated 4/18/2012 – Removed health certificate from list.  Added kennel fan.