Roundup: 6 essential dog gear for your best road trip ever

The scent of summer tinges the air. Every morning on your way to work, the road beckons and whispers, Come and see what adventure lies around my next bend.

America's highways promise juicy hamburgers, hidden gems, quiet B&Bs off the interstate, green hills where your dog frolics and hunts mice.

Hit the road with your dog this weekend.

Smell addictive sunshine streaming in a car window. Smile at your dog lying on the backseat, panting grins. Breath in scents of unknown adventure and crazy journeys that you'll treasure for years.

You never know what you'll find around the next bend.

It's the season of road trips.

Here's a roundup of the essential dog gear for your best summer road trip ever.


1. Strong leash

Don't let your leash snap while you're on the road. This happened to me once in the middle of Wyoming's prairies. It wasn't good. I tied the two pieces together, but still I worried my dog would bolt at a rabbit, run in front of a semi, and that'd be it.

Get a sturdy leash and banish those worries.

While I haven't personally used these Tuff Leashes, they rate really high. And they're made in the USA (which I love).


2. Roman harness

Forget those nose-halters or the type that squeeze your dog's chest together. Accept the fact that your pup is strong and go with it.

At my house, we use Roman harnesses for both dogs. The harness works with your dog's body, instead of using his strength against him. So it's safer for him when he tries to leap after a squirrel.

Also, it's harder for your hound to wriggle out of this harness since both front legs go through it. Plus, there's lots of grab-points on this harness to snag your dog if he's off-leash and looking to bolt.

For the past seven years, we've used Top Paw harnesses -- no complaints and no breaks. And my dogs have put both harnesses through rigorous testing of quick accelerated snaps after rabbits, constant tension on the harness in crowded farmers' markets, and numerous hikes.

3. Tough car backseat cover

Thanks to long hours and countless miles in the car, you want seat covers that are super tough.

If your dog is anything like mine, he'll be pacing the backseat, digging in his claws on sharp curves, and leaning out the window no matter what the weather is like outside.

Your seats need covers that stay on your seats, non-slip so it's safer for pup, and are waterproof and rip-proof. My favorite seat covers are RuffArmor's. (No surprise there -- after all, those are the very reasons why I made these seat covers.)

Install once and you're good to go for miles. No tugging, adjusting, or worry that your dog's claws -- or mud-caked fur from the lake you ate lunch by -- will get to your car's seats.

So by the end of your road trip, your car's seats still look brand new. Even if your dog is a hot mess.

4. Collapsible water bowl

I keep Ruffwear's collapsible dog water bowl in my car always. Sure, my dogs have learned to drink out of Nalgene water bottles without contaminating the rest of the water.

But sometimes, they need to slurp and slop and make a mess when they drink, so they raise their heads looking like water buffaloes.

On a road trip, it's important to keep your dog hydrated. This collapsible bowl easily lets you do that.

And if you have RuffArmor in your backseat, you can simply put the full water bowl on your backseat and let pup drink his fill without worrying the slopped water will damage your backseat.

5. Small first aid kit

Your dog will likely go balls-out on your road trip. And that can mean minor injuries, like skinned paws and nose.

Avoid high emergency vet fees by bringing a small first aid kit full of items to perform roadside care.

Of course, if your dog needs emergency vet care, take him there to get professional help!

Here's some items to include in your little dog-friendly first aid kit:

  • Tweezers: for pulling stickers, prickles, and ticks out
  • Antiseptic like hydrogen peroxide or brown mouthwash: disinfect small cuts and wounds by smearing antiseptic cream on them
  • Spray liquid bandage: real band-aids don't work well on fur, so use this spray-able liquid band-aid to seal minor cuts and wounds and prevent infection
  • Benadryl: you can use this in very small doses to help minor skin inflammation and itching (As with any medications, check with your vet first before using.)
  • Neosporin: apply before spraying the liquid bandage on

6. Something familiar from home

Help your dog feel comfortable on the road by bringing one of his favorite things along.

For example, my dog adores his dog bed. So when we go on a long road trip, we bring it with. That way he feels less anxious in uncomfortable situations and can calm down.

Sometimes we also bring a bone or two for the dogs to chew on and release their stress.

Think of a toy, dog bed, or something your dog plays with every day. If nothing's popping to mind, notice what your dog tends to play with every day. Next time you're going on a long road trip, bring that item with you.