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How to pack for your dogs when they’ll be away from home

Ah, summer travel… blissed out beachside, barbecues with friends and countless adventures for you and your dog (plus maybe a dropped sausage or two—score).

When you’re hitting the road for a sweet vacation, you know you’ve gotta bring the necessities. But as pet parents take more and more vacations — this summer alone, a whopping 88 percent are planning to travel, according to a survey conducted by and Wakefield — we’re coming face to face with a whole new dilemma: How do we pack for our pets?

We’ve put together a packing guide every dog lover can get behind. From the essentials (treats galore) to the bonus items you didn’t even know you wanted (spy gear for dogs?! Yes please), we’ve got your back with pooch packing tips.

1. Dog food and bowl

Leaving your dog with a sitter? Be sure to pack up enough food (even a little extra) for the duration of your trip. Switching a dog’s diet can cause discomfort—and some stinky surprises. Pack up your pet’s usual food bowl too, and be sure to tell your sitter about your pal’s feeding routine.

Hitting the road with your dog in tow? Pick up a collapsible dog bowl for easy roadtrip hydration (the Kurgo Collaps a Bowl comes in cute colors and offers travel-ready water).

2. Cozy bed

When you leave your dog behind, it’s best to give him a home away from home. Bring your sitter your dog’s usual bed—or find someone who’ll let him curl up in his usual spot (whether that’s a corner of the couch or right smack in the middle of the bed). If your dog sleeps best in a crate, bring that along so that their usual sleep routine is intact. Familiarity eases separation anxiety, and a cozy bed will help your dog feel at home faster.

3. Favorite toy

Does your dog have a favorite plush toy? Is she a sucker for a Kong packed with peanut butter? Bring it along! Those tasty treats will ease the stress of saying goodbye (in fact, they may not even notice you’re gone because, peanut butter).

4. Dog leash

Whether your dog walks with a harness, a short leash, or a retractable leash, be sure to bring their usual lead along. Have your sitter take a turn walking your pal around the block before you take off to help them get accustomed to each other. They’ll be fast friends.

5. Any medications or special items

Do you have a senior dog who needs daily pills? A furry friend who gets nervous during storms and wants his Thundershirt? Be sure to pack up any speciality items — and let your sitter know in advance if your dog has any special needs.

6. Poop bags galore

I mean, really. They’re dogs. They’re gonna poop — a lot. Pack more than you think you’ll need. Because you’ll need ’em.

A few more items that are nice to have

7. A familiar-smelling shirt

There’s nothing quite like your scent. You know it when your dog greets you at the door and sniffs you from knee to foot, or snuggles you at bedtime (or rolls in your socks, for that matter). Pack a favorite t-shirt or a pillowcase your dog can nuzzle when he misses you.

8. A special treat

When a dog heads out for her first staycation with a new sitter, she might be a little skeptical. Show her it’s gonna be a blast by packing up a special gift — a favorite treat, for example, or a toy that’ll keep her mentally stimulated while you’re away. Babble Balls make for hilarious playtime.

9. Canine camera

Bringing your pal along for the ride? Capture a dog’s eye view of your vacation with a camera and harness from GoPro. Simply mount the camera to your dog and hit the road. The camera fits dogs from Dachshunds to Great Danes, and seeing the world from your dog’s point of view will only bring you two closer together.

10. GPS tracker

If your dog is vacationing in an unfamiliar setting, it’s especially important to keep an eye on them and ensure that they don’t morph into master escape artists. Keep them safe with some slick hardware: both Tractive and Tagg attach to your dog’s collar and use GPS tracking to monitor your pet’s location.

11. Activity monitor

More of a mountain climber or an urban explorer? Track your dog’s activity with Whistle or FitBark — and keep tracking when you go on walks together to ensure that you’re both getting good exercise.

12. A way to keep your dog cool in the sun

While you’re kicking back in an adirondack chair, share a little R&R with your dog. Pick up a cooling dog bed for hot summer stays.

13. Eye protection

While you’re at it, snag a pair of Doggles for your pal. Sure, they aren’t Ray-Bans, but man are they cute — and they’re practical too, protecting your pooch against UV rays, wind and small objects.

14. Sunscreen

For especially sunny days, consider packing a dog-safe sunscreen like Epi-Pet Sun Protector or My Dog Nose It!. That’s right — dogs get sunburned too. Ask your vet about any safety concerns and be prepared.

15. Dog backpack

If your dog’s accompanying you on your journey—and they can carry a little weight—pick up a dog hiking backpack like this Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack. Your canine explorer is ready to take the world by storm.

Find the perfect dog sitter, be safe, and pack smart this summer — happy trails to you and your dog!

How to pack for your dog

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