For many pet owners, celebrating the holidays without your beloved pet is simply not an option.. Those who have a few to many years of pet traveling under their belt have a method, but they also understand that this dedication to including your pet in holiday activities can lead to its own difficulties, especially for pets with anxiety. For new pet owners in particular, this comes with new challenges
If you’re a new pet owner who is looking for a way to support their anxious pet, or new to traveling with your pet, ZippiVet veterinarian Dr. Robin Allen is here to help!
Traveling can be an exciting adventure but may also be a stressful time for your pet. Dogs and cats can be great at hiding their stress, and it is not always easy to tell if your pet is scared or worried. By observing their body language, we can evaluate signs of fear, stress, and anxiety and know best how to intervene.
Does your pet exhibit behaviors like barking, meowing, drooling, excessive yawning, panting, pacing, vomiting, or diarrhea in new places or while traveling? If so, you could be witnessing signs that your pet is nervous.
Preparing your pet for travel starts from the day you first adopt your new friend. Slowly introducing your pet to a new experience such as car rides and pet carriers will help your pet adjust to these activities.
All pets should be transported in carriers or crates for your safety and theirs. Introducing pet carriers and short car rides is important when you plan to travel longer distances or even traveling to a nearby location. Start early by placing the open carrier in a space where your pet can access it. Place extra special treats and toys inside to encourage your pet to explore.
Acclimate your pet to a carrier or crate.
Apply calming pheromones on a blanket or towel inside the carrier. Species-specific pheromones such as “Feliway” for cats and “Adaptil” for dogs is a natural way to calm your pet.
Play soft calming music while traveling. Loud music or noise can increase stress in your pet.
Secure the carrier in a safe place such as the backseat floor to prevent tipping and rocking.
On long car rides, make sure that you stop to take your pet for potty breaks and provide water to your pet regularly. Remember to never leave your pet alone in the car as temperature changes can become extremely uncomfortable or quickly life threatening.
If you have a pet with severe anxiety or nausea, medication may be necessary to keep your pet comfortable. Consult your veterinarian regarding anti-nausea and anxiety medications that can help.
For more tips to ease your pet’s stress, the Fear Free Happy Homes website can provide more techniques.
Safe and fun travels,
Robin Allen DVM, MBA | ZippiVet Pet Hospital