We couldn’t imagine doing a trip like this and not bringing our dog(s). Neli adapted to traveling quickly and after a few weeks it felt like she was an overloading pro. Maya, on the other hand, is not a great traveler (she gets car sick, is afraid of everything, and it takes her a couple of days to settle into a new spot). Aside from being current on all vaccinations recommended for your life at home, you may want to consider the leptospirosis vaccine if you are traveling to Mexico and/or Central America with your dog (obviously, consult your vet). Bringing your dog will make your life a little more complicated, but for us it was worth it to have Neli with us, so much so that we adopted Maya in Guatemala! Here’s a short list of other things that have made our dogs lives on the road a little easier:
Carabiner Clips: Seems so obvious, and you are probably already bringing a couple of them. Carabiners are the perfect thing to clip onto your dog’s leash handle to attach them to your vehicle at camp, onto a rope tied between two trees (or posts), your chair when you are dining out, and basically any time you need your dog tethered to something other than yourself!
Dog Bed: We went back and forth on whether or not to bring Neli’s doggy bed and blanket with us. In the end we brought it and it was well worth it. Anytime we were somewhere new, she always had a familiar place to lay. Maya loved trying to share the bed with Neli when she was a baby, and even now at 50 pounds she still tries to squeeze into the tiny bed. We also picked up a large mattress for them both to use outside.
Harnesses: We don’t love the choke chains and have always preferred a harness for Neli. We loved having her in a harness, especially in San Pedro, Guatemala, as we could easily lift her off the ground to get her up and away from the (at times) aggressive street dogs. Maya went through a bunch of them on the trip as she grew to full size, but now we use the Easy Walk Harness for her and we love it.
Head and Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo: Wait, what? Head and Shoulders? Yup, bring it for your dogs! Our vet clued us into this cheap and readily available shampoo and conditioner for bathing our dogs. It has zinc as an active ingredient and really helps with dry, itchy skin as well as getting rid of any little bugs that might be biting them. We bathe both dogs with H&S a few days before they are due for their flea and tick prevention drops, and on an as needed basis for Neli as she is prone to hot spots.
Heartworm, Flea and Tick Prevention: You CAN buy flea, tick, and heart worm meds south of the border but sometimes the dosages are different and unfortunately a lot of the time the medicine is expired. We brought a year supply for Neli, which obviously ended up not being enough, and we ended up having to buy this monthly medicine on the road. In major cities this is never a problem, but more than once we have found ourselves driving from town to town looking for something, not exactly how you want to spend your time on your Big Adventure…