Having a dog on your van life adventure is one of the most rewarding parts of the journey for a lot of us. Ella has been the highlight of my solo van life and I spoil her with all of the essentials and the not-so-essentials. But some things you really do need on the road to make you and your dog happier travelers. I started with only a few things but quickly realized all of the stuff I needed for my pup that would make everything in the van and outdoors way easier. So here are some of the must- haves that I have got for my girl and I recommend you getting for your fur babies on the road!
This harness is specifically designed for dogs who will be outdoors frequently. It’s the exact harness I have for Ella and she loves it! Her last harness bothered her a lot and she was constantly scratching at it. The handle on this one allows you to pick the dog up for at least a second when walking over something you don’t want them to. It’s reflective which is awesome when walking at night. It also comes with a seatbelt tether so you can hook them up to the seat when driving. It’s amazing!
You will definitely need a cooling pad for those hotter days. I always lay this down if I’m going inside the store or a coffee shop even if it isn’t very warm outside. Ella loves laying on this thing because she’s forever running hot and wants to lay on something cool. These just help regulate their temperature and it’s made entirely of non- toxic materials just in case your pup chews through.
Accidents can easily happen and you want to be prepared in case. Getting a custom collar will allow someone to immediate call you if your dog runs off and they find him/her. Not everyone will be willing to take them to the vet and get scanned for a chip. So you definitely don’t want to take that risk. Most people will be willing to call if the number is simply on the collar and you’ll be worried for way less time. These are inexpensive and I highly recommend.
This is an absolute must!! Being a responsible pet owner is obviously really important and having a first aid kit specifically for pets is essential. There is tons of equipment in this bag along with guides and instructions depending on the injury or wound. It’s FDA approved and includes everything you’ll need for small injuries or the first steps before taking them to the pet hospital. It’s a small kit so you can store it anywhere in the van.
A lot of parks require your dog be on a leash. National parks require a 6 ft leash or shorter. However, others don’t have an exact requirement. They just want them on some kind of leash. These retractable leashes are inexpensive and really nice to have so your dog feels like they can run a little. It extends 16 ft long so you can keep it short in the national parks but have it fully extended in other places. Having the control wherever you are to change it up is super nice! This is the leash I have for Ella and I’ll keep for as long as I can.
This might be the most recommended item on the list! I totally wasted my money on a different brush and Ella hated it AND it didn’t work. This Furminator brush is a little pricey ($25) but it is amazing. She loves being brushed with this and it actually gets so much hair that I can tell a major difference when I don’t use it. If your pup sheds at all, this brush is the only one I would recommend using because it works so well for the small space. Shedding can be the biggest struggle with dogs in the van!
This flea and tick spray is entirely natural and made in the US, but can also be used for various circumstances. You can use it to prevent fleas and ticks but you can also use it if your dog already has them. It also works great for mosquitoes. I do give Ella the standard pill as well but I use this periodically when it’s really buggy or she’s just been outside a ton. It smells really fresh and I just like taking the extra precaution!
I haven’t bought this just yet but I do plan to really soon! You basically download an app on your phone and attach the GPS to your dog’s collar and you can track them anytime on the app. In case of emergency or if you plan on allowing them to go off leash, this would be a great way to make sure they don’t get lost. A lot of similar trackers come with a monthly fee but this one doesn’t have that which is awesome!
Having these collapsible water bowls at national parks and while we’re hiking has been a major life saver! I can just use my own water bottle to pour some into her bowl and then collapse it to throw back into my bag. These are super cheap and offer a lifetime warranty. I do have regular bowls in the van but you could definitely use these as your standard bowls as well. They are super lightweight and compact so you can literally store them anywhere.
I know I included the FURminator brush earlier which is the one thing I recommend if you only want a brush. But if you have a dog that sheds quite a bit, I would probably recommend having this kind of kit. Not to mention, it includes nail clippers and a dematting comb which is nice when you’re on the road and don’t want to stop at an actual groomer. This kit is a good price for everything included and will definitely help with the shedding around the van!