rocky road: tips for easing travel anxiety

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Dr. Ernie Ward
Posted by Dr. Ernie Ward on May 27 2013

Scared dog riding in car | tips for easing travel anxiety | Petplan


One of the most time-honored traditions of the American summer is to hit the open road when the temperatures sizzle. These days, more and more people are choosing to bring their pets along for the ride. A road trip with Rover can be a wonderful bonding experience for you both, but bear in mind that your dog might need some time to adjust to long hours in the car – and some dogs may find the experience stressful at first. One of the best ways to ease your pet’s travel anxiety is by taking several short trips before embarking on a long haul. Here are additional tips to make your pet’s travel more enjoyable.

Withhold food 12 hours before travel

An empty stomach will help reduce nausea and the need for frequent potty breaks that are often unwelcome, especially during long stretches of time in the car. Be sure to provide access to fresh water whenever possible. Bring bottled water and a collapsible pet bowl in your backpack; some pets won’t drink directly from the neck of the bottle.

Sweet smell of home

Add a t-shirt or blanket with your scent to your pet’s carrier or the back seat of your car. In addition to smelling like home, nothing’s cozier than mom or dad’s shirt.

Lavender, Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) or Feliway

Aromatherapy and pheromones can calm a tense traveler. Add these scents to your pet’s bedding or blankets to help calm their fears. They are available as sprays or even as diffuser collars your dog can wear during the trip.

Calming herbs

Bach flower (Rescue Remedy), kava, valerian, passionflower, and skullcap have been used for decades to ease anxiety naturally. Ask your vet for some suggestions and safe dosing recommendations.

Cerenia, Dramamine and Meclizine

These anti-nausea meds can prevent vomiting in a stressed pet. A single dose of Cerenia lasts 24 hours. Keep in mind these drugs only help with motion-sickness, not anxiety, and be sure to administer the medication only after talking to your vet.

Prescription Meds

Xanax (alprazolam) given the night before travel and repeated 12 hours later can relax even the most anxious pet traveler. If your pet suffers from severe anxiety, you’re probably not planning a vacation with him, but if a road trip is an absolute must due to relocation or other circumstances, a vet-prescribed medication can help keep your dog safe, calm and stress-free.

The world just got smaller for our pet companions. So if you’re adventurous and willing to do a little homework, you and your furry family members can enjoy seeing the world together. Go on; trot those paws around the globe. Besides, nothing cures jet lag better than a warm snuggle-buddy!