Travelling with your pet
Have you ever taken your pet travelling and thought ‘Wow! Never again!’
Travelling can be stressful for you and your pets.
Travelling with your pets can be a really fun time. Its nice to take them for a little walk as you stop the car, and to have them with you when you reach your destination. Most dogs get super excited to be part of the whole experience. Some dogs, and most cats don’t enjoy it. Plus there can also be a few problems we often find out on the way.
Some dogs get sick
This is no fun for anyone. Dog vomit is gross at the best of times, but much, much worse when smeared all over your cars interior, and the smell will stay with you for the entire trip and beyond.
There are two main causes for dogs travel sickness.
- Anxiety and stress, which can trigger nausea and vomiting,
2. Motion sickness- where they get sick from the movement of the car.
There are a few things we can do to reduce the anxiety and stress.
Make it fun, but keep it calm.
If you are stressed about the kids playing up in the back seat, or you are running late, or have loud heavy metal music playing your pet is going to freak out. They have such superior hearing compared to ours. You cant put them in the confines of a car, where they can’t escape the noise, and expect him to enjoy it like you do. He will feel stressed from the noise, and will also pick up on your stress.
If you are yelling at the kids, he will think you are yelling at him. He will feel scared and anxious.
Best thing to do here is to STOP.
Take a few deep breaths and centre yourself.
Take a few drops of rescue remedy,
and when you are feeling calm, take a moment to give your dog a few slow pats, and you can drop some rescue remedy on their tongue, or offer it in some water. Rescue remedy can be given every two hours, or as needed.
There are some herbs that also work well for anxiety. Passion flower and skull cap are two of my favorites, but there are many more to choose from. Ginger is great for nausea and vomiting, and reducing motion sickness.
Motion sickness can also be eased by allowing your dog to see out the window.
I don’t mean head hanging out the window. This is dangerous (and scary for the person that drives past that your dog barks at). By seeing out the window, it can help their sense of balance, which is often involved in feeling sick
Fasting your dog while travelling can help. Just keeping in mind if its a long trip, and your dog is a puppy it may not be ideal to fast too long.
But please don’t withhold water. We don’t want our dogs to go without water, especially a dog fed on dry food, that have a requirement for a higher water intake to be able to efficiently hydrate their food, and then also digest it. If they get dehydrated it can have consequences for their kidneys. So always allow them water. Most dogs should be able to hold their bladder for at least two hours- even puppies. Then they can do a wee when you stop – revive- survive.
Also remember to take some old towels, in case of vomit…..
Cats- a whole other story
Cats can also get stressed out in the car, and they really need to be restrained in a cat carrier, for their safety, and the safety of the driver.
Rescue remedy works well for them too. Travelling is usually much more stressful for cats. They don’t tend to enjoy a trip away like a dog does.
Again we need to allow for water breaks, and opportunities to use the litter tray. Cats also prefer to travel in the dark, so chuck an old towel, or blanket over them. It also helps to muffle the sound of wailing- and yes a cat can wail for an entire 8 hour drive- believe me!
If you’re lucky they will sleep the trip away. Just make sure you don’t cover them too much. we don’t want them overheated, or suffocate.
Problems on the way
Never let your dog off leash on a trip. Even a really obedient dog can sometimes have a misbehaved moment, and it is much more likely when they are stressed, anxious and in an unfamiliar place. If they are not on the lead, they can run out in front of a car, or even take off, and you cant find them. I’m sure on a long car trip you are not going to want to run around trying to find your furbaby! Just keep them on lead, and then they are safe. If you need to let your cat out for a loo brake. make sure they all the doors are shut, and after doing their business, they are secured away in their carrier before any doors are open.
When stopping on your long trips, and going to get get some food, or a drink, go to the loo. What are you doing with your dog? Are they locked in the car, in the heat? Be mindful that it can be very easy to get distracted in a shop, or chatting to someone in the lovely cool air conditioning, while your dog is suffering from heat stress in the car. Try to use drive through, or pack a picnic and have your break at a park.
End of the road.
Another thing to consider is what is happening at the end of the trip. If you are travelling to a new house, your pet is going to be even more stressed, and you will need to address the ongoing stress that will cause. Will there be other dogs, or cats that they will need to be introduced to? Don’t let a dog meet as he is getting out of the car. restrain the dog that is already on the premises, and allow your dog to safely leave the car, do a wee, and orient themselves before an introduction. this is often better on neutral ground too.
When a cat is let out of its carrier after a trip, in a strange place, make sure they are in a confined area. Locked in the house. they will often hide out for a day or two before exploring.
What are your experiences with travelling with your pets? Be sure to leave a comment to share your experiences- good or bad. My worse experience was when I took my dog for a drive to town, but I didn’t realise he had been down the paddock beforehand, eating something gross and dead. I learnt first hand how gross dog vomit was, on the carpet in the hatchback. But much more gross because it wasn’t just vomited dog food, it was also the most disgusting long dead creature. Smells of dog vomit, and death filled the car. I turned out also vomiting!
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