Pet anxiety while travelling can be caused by many things. They may don’t know what is happening as you are driving to some unfamiliar place, or they might have negative associations with the car because they think they are going to the vet or groomer. Whatever the reason, make sure to use these seven tips to ease travel anxiety for your pet.
1. Create A Pet-Friendly Environment
Since humidity and heat can exacerbate stress and motion sickness, you need to create a pleasant environment in your car. Regulate the temperature, turn on the car’s fan or crack the window/sunroof to keep fresh air circulating. But don’t allow your pet to stick its head out of the car.
Soothing music can also help to calm your pet down. In case you plan to transport your pet in a carrier, make sure it is level and flat and not tilted to the side. You can even cover it with a towel if it calms your pet.
Additionally, you can receive the potential calming effects from scents like lavender, which is thought to reduce anxiety and stress. You can invest in a car air freshener with this soothing scent or apply some drops of diluted essential oil to your hand and allow your pet to sniff it. As it’s important that you stay calm when you travel with your pet, inhaling lavender will help to relieve your stress as well.
2. Take Short Trips Ahead Of Time
If your pet is particularly anxious during car rides, they tend to associate the car with negative emotions and think that the car ride means a visit to the vet.
So, before you go on a long trip with your pet, take a few short practice trips that will give them a positive experience. For example, consider taking a trip to a dog park, your favourite pet store or just for a walk to form more positive associations with driving.
3. Refrain From Feeding Your Pet Right Before The Trip
While it might seem like a full pet is a happy pet, food can actually complicate things during your car ride. Sure, you don’t want to starve your pet, yet feeding your fluffy friend too soon before travelling can lead to nausea during the car ride, which causes distress and increases their anxiety levels.
It is best to give your pet meals 3-4 hours before the trip to give them enough time to digest their food. Pack your pet’s food and water, treats, medicines, feeding bowls and other essential supplies to keep you out of stores and vet offices during the trip. And don’t forget to use puppy pads to protect car seats and absorb accidents.
4. Bring His/Her Favourite Blanket
Does your fluffy friend have its own blanket or maybe a designated mat, and if so, will it fit comfortably in their carrier? The smell of these items will remind your anxious pup of home, a safe place for him, which in turn keeps your pet distracted and more comfortable.
However, remember that scent is the primary sense of animals, so resist the temptation to wash it before the ride. Another option is to put one of your old (unwashed) t-shirts into the pet carrier to provide comfort and a distraction for your fluffy friend.
5. Don’t Forget A Toy
Similar to a psychological trick with a blanket, make sure to bring your pet’s favourite toy that can fit in the carrier without taking up too much space. Instead of a squeaky toy or something that makes noise, opt for a chewing one, which can be a valuable distraction for your pet during potentially stressful times.
If your pet doesn’t have his/her favourite toy, try buying one and play with it as much as possible before the tip. This way, you can bring a familiar comfort object that your fluffy friend will associate with a positive experience.
6. Take Frequent Breaks
If you are travelling with an anxious pet, they may need more frequent breaks, so make sure to plan your itinerary accordingly. If you need to stop every few hours to relieve your dog’s anxiety, plan your route to take advantage of suitable rest stops.
You can use these breaks as a time to go to the bathroom, engage, play and give attention to your pet. However, remember to always wear a collar and tags on your pet. Also, do not open the car door until the leash is fully secured and you have a firm grip on the leash. An anxious pet is more likely to run away, so make sure to step to exit on the side of the vehicle, away from traffic or activity.
7. Consider Using CBD Products
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Nowadays, many people choose to take CBD for anxiety as a natural alternative to traditional anti-anxiety medications. And since all mammals have a complex endocannabinoid system, your pet can benefit from this supplement too!
As a chemical substance, cannabidiol (CBD) is able to interact with special receptors found all over your pet’s body, aiding in regulating many vital processes, such as learning, sleep, immune response, pain, sleep, etc. Therefore, giving CBD oil to your pet can help reduce stress and relieve nausea. To reap its potential benefits, you can place the oil directly in your pet’s mouth, add CBD to their food or purchase cannabidiol in the form of dog treats.
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