Your dog is an integral part of your life, just because the mercury drops doesn’t mean they need to be left at home during your cold-weather adventures. However, we all know that winter travel has some challenges all its own — you may run into inclement weather, road hazards, traffic accidents, etc. — and some extra planning on the front end can be a game-changer. We turned to Veronica Chircop, the founder and trainer at The Working K9 and Happy Tails Pet Care Service for her insights on winter travel. A certified road warrior, she regularly travels with dogs between Tampa, Florida, and Ottawa, Ontario throughout the year — no matter the conditions — as part of her dog training and boarding business.

Cold-Weather Travel Trips

Take it Easy

Plan to take a little extra time on your trip — there’s no need to be in a rush when the weather is less than favorable. You’ll want to make sure to give attention to your dog’s health, and enjoy some time playing with them during stops. A good rule of thumb is to let your dog out to stretch its legs and go to the bathroom every time you stop for fuel or food. We like to take a favorite toy for fetch or a leash to make sure our dogs get some exercise each stop.

Stay Hydrated

Heat may certainly make us more conscious of our thirst, but fluids and proper hydration are equally as important in the winter. This holds true for your four-legged companions as well. Be sure that your dog has consistent access to fresh water. If you find that your dog is hesitant to drink, consider mixing in some bone broth, the scent and flavor can certainly encourage your dog to drink up.

Pack Proper Winter Gear

Know ahead of time how well your breed can handle the cold, and bring the appropriate gear to ensure your canine is nice and toasty. While a Pyrenees or Samoyed would be quite comfortable as the temps plummet, other breeds may not. A vest goes a long way to ensure your dog’s core stays insulated.

Bring Extra Dog Food

And some extra snacks for yourself as well. You never know if your trip may be delayed or extended due to poor travel conditions. `

Tip: Install a Thermometer in your dog’s kennel

Keeping Your Dog(s) Warm

If your dog’s kennel is exposed to the elements (i.e. Truck Bed) as you travel, you’ll want to take some extra precautions to make sure your dog is both safe and comfortable during your trip. Here are a few methods we turn to when the temperature plummets.

  1. Blankets (Wool is great), Straw or Grass Hay
    • Blankets are rather intuitive, but straw and grass hay are often overlooked yet useful insulators. They’re generally inexpensive and accessible materials that can be kept fresh on the road.
  2. Insulated Vest or Jacket for your dog
  3. Minimize direct exposure to the elements
    • Protecting your dog’s space from direct exposure to wind and precipitation is one of the best things you can do to ensure a warm and comfortable environment for your pet. A cover like the All-Weather Kit is a great tool for this. Additionally, having your kennel door facing the tailgate helps against the wind and elements (and makes those quick stops a bit more convenient.)
  4. Pre-warm your dog’s kennel
    • Often before travel, we’ll bring kennels into the garage or the house so that, as we set out, the temperature in the kennel is comfortable. This is a particularly useful tip with GUNNER’s lineup of kennels as their double-wall, rotomolded design provides excellent thermodynamic performance in cold weather.
  5. Install a Thermometer in your dog’s kennel
    • There are a variety of inexpensive outdoor Bluetooth thermometers available online — it’s an easy way to accurately monitor your pup’s environment on the go.

Read more: The Science Behind a Proper Kennel Fit

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