As an important member of your family, you want your pet to share the fun and excitement of a holiday or road-trip. With many more pet-friendly accommodation options available, there’s never been a better reason to take your pet along with you on your travels.
Causes of Travel Anxiety in Pets
Just like humans, travel anxiety and car sickness is more common among young pets than older ones. The reason is that ear structures which are used to achieve balance are not fully developed in young pets.
However, not all pets outgrow travel anxiety and it can become a more ingrained behaviour where they continue to show signs of anxiety, vomiting and other unwanted behaviours which could ruin the joy you want to experience during a trip with them.
There are also instances where anxiety is triggered by external factors, such as the loud horn of a passing truck or the sound of a motorcycle roaring past.
Whatever the trigger, or length of trip, here are some tips to help you reduce travel anxiety and motion sickness in your pet in order to make the trip enjoyable for you both.
Choose an Appropriate Travel Carrier
Before embarking on your journey, make sure you get a travel carrier or crate that’s right for your pet and follows the laws for pets related to car travel.
You may wish to use a car seat or a seat belt if that is what you choose and it suits them.
If you have a small dog, for instance, choose a small pet carrier or crate which has sufficient room for your dog to feel comfortable. A carrier that’s too big could result in your dog slipping and sliding, which could cause injuries.
Allow sufficient time for your pet to become familiar with the travel carrier or crate a few days before the journey. Using their favourite treats, your pet can be taught to associate the carrier as a comfortable place to occupy during the trip. Arouse your pet’s curiosity by mixing the treats every day so they keep coming back to check out what’s on offer.
Once your pet becomes accustomed to the carrier, keep them entertained and engaged, while you slowly shut the carrier. Start by closing the door for short periods and gradually build up to longer periods to a point where they can be relaxed and calm.
Make Short Trips for Practice
To reduce pet anxiety and ensure your pet travels comfortably, get your pet to accompany you on short trips to the grocery store or other places you normally visit.
Open the window of your car to allow fresh air to enter. Most pets enjoy the breeze and keeping the window open does not make them feel claustrophobic. Be safe of course! In rare exceptions, a pet may not feel comfortable with the window open. In such cases, close the windows and ensure there’s sufficient air circulating by keeping the air-conditioning running.
Some pets prefer to be on the floor and not able to see out the window. In extreme cases of car sickness this method can work very well as they are unable to see the motion of the horizon.
Take Regular Breaks
When travelling without a pet, you can take fewer breaks, especially if you are eager to reach your destination faster.
However, when you are accompanied by a pet, it’s important to stop regularly. Not only does it help to reduce your pet’s anxiety, but also gives them an opportunity to take a potty break and rehydrate. The last thing you want is for your pet to relieve themselves in your car, leaving you to clean up the mess.
When driving with pets, drive carefully around bends to reduce the chance of nausea occurring in your pet.
Organic Pet Calming Products
Anxious pets respond well to calming products such as the HomeoPet Travel Anxiety which helps to make them feel safe and secure.
Formulated by Vets, HomeoPet Travel anxiety contains ingredients to relieve anxiety and symptoms of motion sickness.
The formulation is not a sedative and is not habit-forming. An organic product, you can be reassured that your pet will not suffer from side-effects.
The fast-acting liquid formula needs to be administered just one hour before commencing travel and the effect lasts for approximately four hours. For trips of longer duration, the formula can be administered again after every four-hour period.