My family and I haven’t taken a vacation for years because we didn’t want to leave the dog behind. Yes, we have trust issues!! Anyway, we decided to take a caravan holiday with the dog and are looking for some tips on what to pack for him. Can you help?
Sounds like a wonderful idea! I was in a caravan on 3 separate occasions with my dogs, and with preparation it can work out quite well.
Here is the very detailed master list I created, and the one I use when packing for our caravan trips. Depending on where you’re going, the time of year or even your dog’s health, not everything will be relevant so just tick off the items that are and use that as a reference. Also, they are not in any particular order.
I will include some links to a few of the products I mention in case you’d like to check them out.
I would love to hear how your trip goes, so feel free to drop me a message and include some photos if you’d like. It might inspire others to try a caravan holiday!!
**There are affiliate links in this post, so if you buy something I may earn a commission. This has no effect on the price you pay.**
Collar and id tag
Okay not technically something that is packed, but important to have in case the unthinkable happens and your dog runs off. Check all information is up to date, and have your dog microchipped as well please!
In the event of spotty cell phone reception, an additional tag containing contact details of your destination (and/or next one if you’re on the move) is a safety precaution worth considering.
Being in unfamiliar territory can be unsettling, accidents happen and your dog may wander and lose his way. It’s even more terrifying if your dog has vision and/or hearing problems. A GPS collar will increase the likelihood he will be returned safely and quickly.
Even if your dog does not typically wear a harness, I always recommend using one while on the road and at your destination. Even the calmest, most easy going dog can get spooked in an unfamiliar environment so a harness will provide that extra level of safety.
I know it’s something so obvious you’re wondering why it’s on a packing list, but believe it or not I have forgotten it more than once. How I don’t know but I have.
I don’t know the rules about restraining dogs in moving vehicles where you live or where you’re going, but it really is the safest thing for everyone. A dog allowed loose in the car, no matter how small he or she may be, can distract the driver and cause an accident. A harness with seatbelt, car seat, travel bag or crate are all much better options.
If you’re traveling with an old dog who needs a bit of help, or you’re concerned you’ll be doing a lot more walking than usual and Rover (okay Spot!) won’t be able to keep up, here are a few items worth thinking about including.
Ramp to get in and out of the caravan
Stroller for breaks during a long walk
Sling for extra support
Booties for rougher terrain
Carpet squares, yoga mats or something similar if your caravan floor is bare and slippery
A current photo
On your phone and physically printed out, it can save time should your dog go missing.
Food and water bowls
Whether you bring the same ones he uses at home or you buy new ones is up to you. I brought my dogs’ from home just to add a touch of the familiar.
I always bring a foldable/collapsible bowl with me because they’re perfect for day trips. They take up no room in a knapsack, purse or even a pocket and you’re never caught without.
Rubber mats for under the bowls
Rubber mats are an easy way to protect the floor from spilled food and drink, especially if you’re only renting the caravan or motorhome.
Dog food and treats
Obvious I know, but in the excitement of packing sometimes the thing we need the most and don’t write on the list is the thing we forget to bring!
Have a supply that will last you the length of the trip…and longer just in case you’re having such a great time you can’t bear to leave. It’s particularly important if your dog is on a special diet.
Dog travel bag
If it’s a long car ride until you get to your campsite you might want to check out a dog travel bag. I think they’re wonderful because it keeps your dog’s food, water and even a toy or two all organised and in one place while you’re on the road.
I’ve packed in a knapsack so many times, and the dogs’ stuff always starts off perfectly organised. Half way through the trip things are flying because I can’t find anything. These bags are definitely a better solution.
Bring bottled water
Although campsites have drinking water on site, I only use it for filling water butts. For everything else, including the dogs, I bring a supply of bottled.
Flea and tick treatment
Find out in advance the flea and tick situation where you’re going, and if your dog’s current products offer the right level of protection. If it is a concern, there are plenty of indoor/outdoor sprays available, some with natural ingredients if you like to go that route.
Bed and blankets
Don’t assume he’ll sleep “wherever” even if that ends up being the case. Bring his bed so he has a comfortable spot of his own, and a couple of blankets in case it gets chilly.
A favourite toy/puzzle toys
If he can’t live without that stuffed rabbit, make sure you bring it with you. I also recommend a puzzle toy or interactive toy to keep him busy, particularly if the weather isn’t cooperating and you’re spending more time indoors than you had planned.
We know brushing the dog is a great bonding experience, there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue it while on your travels. If it’s not something you typically do, now is the perfect time to start, if for no other reason than you’ll cut down on the amount of dog hair you find inside!
Drops in evening temperature, an unexpected rainstorm or caravanning in the winter means a sweater, coat and raincoat are must haves. I never travel without at least one of them!
Medication, supplements and calming aids
Once again I recommend you bring more than you need, just in case.
Even if your dog is not anxious, it’s still a good idea to look into some anti-anxiety remedies to have on hand. You may find it comes in handy if you’re traveling with an older dog or one with dementia that may have a harder time adapting to a strange environment. It could be something as simple as Rescue Remedy which is available in health food shops and pharmacies, or a pheromone diffuser plug in such as Adaptil.
It seems sunscreen is as important for dogs as it is for us, particularly if they have white fur and skin as they can burn easily. https://www.petmd.com/dog/seasonal/can-dogs-wear-sunscreen
If your dog has health issues or been treated for an illness recently, bring his medical records. Your vet can easily email you a copy and you can print one out as well.
Some parks may want proof your dog is up to date on vaccinations, and if travelling further afield proof of rabies is always required.
First aid kit
Ready-made kits contain the basics, and usually include a booklet outlining what to do in case of various emergencies or make your own. Ideally there should be a first aid kit in your home and every vehicle.
List of local vets and emergency hospitals
A first aid kit means you can attend to your dog immediately, but it won’t help in every situation. Before you leave home prepare a list of local vets and emergency hospitals where you’ll be staying. Precious time can be wasted if you wait until you need one to start looking.
I don’t want to be bothered looking for a store because I ran out of poop bags. They take up no room so throw in a few extra rolls or box.
If you use them at home you’ll use them while away. I always said I should have bought stock in a pee pad company I used so many!! At night I covered the caravan floor just in case Red needed to pee. She never woke me up in the middle of the night to take her she would just wander, pee and go back to bed. Gotta love her!!
Stake in the ground
A stake in the ground with a rope attached to your dog’s harness will give him the chance to lounge in the fresh air in safety.
Towels…and lots of them!
Muddy paws are an issue when caravanning, it’s the nature of the beast. For me the nightmare is when it’s been raining, I’m wearing a raincoat and wellies, carrying Red who was squirming like crazy because she doesn’t like to be held for too long because of her dementia, trying to fit through a narrow door, while grabbing the towel and drying her off without me stepping off the doormat.
Conversely if you have dogs that love to swim you know they’re going to roll around on your couches to dry off…right!!
Yep you need lots of towels!
An easy way to wash the mud off your dog, or just hold him under one of the faucets on the site like I do. I know this is obvious but I have to say it anyway – if you’re using a hose please make sure it’s on a very low setting so you don’t scare or injure the dog. Sorry, I know you know this!!
Carpet squares or mats
I used them right by the front door so the dogs won’t slip when going in and out.
Blankets or sheets
Perfect for covering seating areas…even if it’s dry outside. I keep the couches covered all the time just in case.
So handy to have, especially if it’s damp or muddy outside. A lot less fuss and a lot more convenient to use than a towel and water, and a great substitute if you don’t have access to either. I always keep a pack right near the front door so I could grab one before we even walked inside.
In addition to your standard cleaning supplies, carpet and air fresheners make a good addition.
If boating with the dog is on the agenda or even just a possibility, bring a life jacket. Your dog may be a first class swimmer, but can get into trouble in unfamiliar or rough waters.
I offer “virtual” training sessions and behaviour advice…no matter where in the world you live. Contact me or visit the services page for more information.