The Travel Industry Association of America estimates that some 8 million dogs accompany their owners on road trips every year. If you're planning to follow in their paw prints, here are some tips on where to stay, what do to along the way, and how to ensure a comfortable ride.
Best doggy destinations
GASLAMP QUARTER Pamper your pooch in this San Diego precinct. At Trattoria La Strada (619-239-3400) you and Rex can share a filet mignon on the patio. Pick up a Chewy Vuitton toy at Lucky Dog Pet Boutique (619-696-0364).
SHASTA LAKE With 360 miles of shoreline and 20 miles of trails, this Northern California lake is a great place to take a swim or go for a hike. (530) 275-1589, www.shastacascade.org.
BIDWELL PARK In this 3,670-acre park in Chico, Calif., explore miles of trails and the grassy off-leash area north of Upper Park Road. (530) 896-7800, www.chico.ca.us.
TRUCKEE RIVER Rent a raft for two to 20 people—or dogs—and float five gentle miles from Tahoe City, Calif., to the River Ranch Lodge. (530) 581-0123, www.truckeeriverraft.com.
CARMEL BEACH This leash-free stretch of sand is an easy walk from downtown. (800) 550-4333, www.carmelcalifornia.org.
Putting out the welcome bowl
Once relegated to the kennel, pets are now bedding down with their owners at mainstream hotel chains. All Motel 6, Studio 6, and Red Roof Inn properties (www.accorhotels.com) accommodate dogs. Travelodge (www.travelodge.com) has more than 250 pet-friendly locations, though policies vary. (Rooms are usually designated so pet-averse guests can avoid them; call ahead.)
Upscale chains woo canines with special amenities. Some Sheraton, W, and Westin hotels (AAA members get discounted rates; 866-782-7737, (aaa.com/savings) provide bones and doggy massages. Kimpton Group's boutique hotels (www.kimptonhotels.com) offer specials, such as the Ultimate Package for the Pampered Poodle with a dog bed, toys, and treats at the Hotel Solamar in San Diego.
A safe and happy car ride
If your dog is unaccustomed to riding in the car, start training him with short outings six weeks before your trip.
Pooch prone to car sickness? Feed her no less than three hours before departure. A teaspoon of honey can soothe an upset belly while on the road. With extreme cases, ask your veterinarian about Dramamine (dimenhydrinate).
To protect both passengers and pets in the event of an accident, you should restrain your dog—in a secured carrier, with a harness attached to a seat belt, or behind a wire barrier at the back of the car.
Offer clean, cool water regularly. You can also put a bowl of frozen water in your pet's carrier so he can lick it.
Never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle in hot or cold temperatures. On an 85-degree day, a car with the windows cracked can heat up to 102 degrees in 10 minutes.
Photography by Maggie Hallahan
This article was first published in March 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.