Tips for Traveling in Winter with Your Dog

Winter trips can be fun and exciting. If you're planning to go somewhere cold with your dog, read this guide to help you prepare for the trip

Tips for Traveling in Winter with Your Dog

One of the joys of being a dog parent is seeing our pups enjoy new sights, smells, and experiences around them. With winter now upon us, there are plenty of opportunities to create unique memories with our dogs such as witnessing their first reaction to snow. Traveling in winter can be fun for you and your dog but it’s important to plan ahead to make the experience fun, comfortable, and safe for everyone.

On our recent trip, we headed up to Mammoth Lakes where temperatures were low and snow was abundant. We knew that even though Lil’ Chips enjoyed colder weather, we still needed to make sure we had everything we need to keep her safe on this trip.

Here are some tips for traveling in winter with your dog:

1. Note Important Places in Your Destination

Remember that some hotels don’t allow dogs to be left in the room so always check their pet policy before you book them. And if you’re planning to visit spots that aren’t pet-friendly, make sure to research boarding facilities and contact them ahead of time. Beyond finding dog-friendly attractions, make sure to look for 24-hour vet clinics nearby in case of emergency.

2. Talk to Your Vet Before the Trip to Learn What to Watch Out For

Traveling in winter with your dog can pose certain problems. Frostbite and hypothermia are two common issues that can occur in cold weather. Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms or better yet, prevent it from happening in the first place. Consider buying essential gear such as booties, waterproof jackets, and sweaters to help your dog feel comfortable in low temperatures.

Different breeds handle drops in temperatures differently. As a corgi, Lil’ Chips has a double coat to help her tolerate temperatures below 50°F. Knowing this, we still decided to get her a puffy jacket because we planned to be outside for hours and it can help protect most of her body from the snow.

3. Gradually Familiarize Your Dog with New Things

If your pup is on a fresh or frozen diet, now’s the time to transition them slowly with food that’s easier to pack for the trip like dry kibbles. If you have a dog that has a unique body shape (like our corgi), finding boots and jackets that fit takes time. Make sure to fit them before the trip to avoid any issues.

When you finally find the right clothes that fit, let your dog feel comfortable wearing them before the trip by putting them on, and giving lots of praise and treats. Another thing to consider is how to make them feel safe and comfortable in the car. Get them used to being in a crate in the car or wearing a seatbelt so that there are no distractions when you’re driving.

4. Make a Checklist and Pack Extras

When we went on a road trip to San Francisco, we found ourselves rushing to buy dog shampoo at a local pet store because Lil’ Chips had too much fun and rolled on mud at the park. What we’ve learned is that having a checklist ultimately can save us time and money. Here are a few things you can add to your checklist:

  • Poop bags (bring extra rolls just in case)
  • Dog-friendly wipes to keep paws clean
  • Lots of treats
  • Doggy water bottle
  • Dog-friendly shampoo
  • A favorite toy to keep them entertained during long drives
  • A collar, a harness, and a leash – having an extra collar/harness helps in case one of them breaks
  • Packed kibbles and a collapsible travel bowl
  • Blanket
  • Paw protection wax to keep paws from cracking
  • Medication (if your dog needs it)

5. Take Your Time and Expect Plans to Change

During our trip up Mammoth Lakes, many hiking trails we planned to explore were closed due to unpaved snow. In fact many parks close during winter or aren’t maintained so always check their website ahead to get the latest status. Weather can also be unpredictable so it’s best to check the forecast before you head outdoors.

6. Make Frequent Stops

If you have a high-energy dog, it’s a good idea to let them run at the dog park before you start the trip. This way, you won’t need to worry about a restless dog in the car. You should also make more stops than you normally would so your pup can have plenty of opportunities to potty. And when you arrive, don’t forget to give your dog time to decompress.

7. Don’t Forget Your Own Needs

Throughout the whole process of planning, remember that this trip is also for the humans so don’t forget to pack your own winter necessities. Also make sure that your car is ready for the snowy conditions by getting essential tools such as snow tires and/or chains, compact shovel, tire air compressors, tire air pressure gauge, etc.

Lastly, this trip is both for you and your pup so don’t forget to have fun and make wonderful memories together!

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