How to Reduce Your Pet’s Stress When Traveling
By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 2, 2016
Dr. Greenway offers tips and advice on how to travel with pets by car and plane to make it as stress free as possible for them. Topics covered in this video include car and plane travel, sedation, anxiety, anti-anxiety medication and supplements.
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com. We always want to go places and since our pets are family members we want to take them with us but sometimes it’s really stressful for dogs and cats to travel in cars or planes to come along on trips and visits to different places with us so here’s a few pieces of advice on how to help with this.
The stress they experience from this could be for a couple reasons. If you’re talking about car travel, it could be a matter of motion sickness, if you’re talking about going in the plane it could be the sights and sounds and the temperature related to being in potentially the cargo hold of that vehicle.
So first we want to deal with decreasing stress, so if you’re looking at a car trip what you can do with your cat or dog is you can slowly introduce that by actually just letting them get in the car when you’re not even going to be driving anywhere just for them to know the smell of the car and start to get used to it before it actually starts to move and make the noises that it does when that happens. There may even be products that you have in your home such as Gravol that can reduce motion sickness, prevent vomiting, and nausea. You’ll want to speak to your veterinarian about the dose that you can give and make sure that it’s someone who’s seen your pet recently and gives you the okay that it’s safe to give them or try it prior to traveling. Then what you’re going to want to look at is trying to drive just around the block and seeing how your pet responds to that. Cats and dogs that are stressed will start to pant or salivate, sometimes bark excessively or yowl and if you’re thinking about going on a trip for two or three hours, this can become quite an annoyance in the car and it can also be really uncomfortable for your pet experiencing that level of stress.
You can talk to your veterinarian about certain products and medications that can sedate your pet but I’d also want you to look at these things decreasing anxiety as well. So there’s a common sedative that we give out and you can talk to your veterinarian about potential sedatives but keep in mind that even when you sedate a pet, they’re still anxious about what’s going on and they can still receive stimulus during that time. So you’re going to want to pair that with an anti-anxiety treatment as well. Those come in forms of medication but then also you can get natural or herbal supplements that will decrease that anxiety.
You’re going to want to apply those same principles when you’re considering taking a plane ride somewhere and when considering plane travel, think about calling ahead to the airline. They’re usually pretty good about giving you some instruction as to what that trip is going to look like for your pet and what they may experience. They may give you some important details about what type of carriers you can use or what you can provide them with inside that carrier during the time of travel.
Nowadays it’s possible to take your pet if it’s of small enough size into the cabin with you so you can be with it and it will be exposed to the environment that is comfortable for us in the cabin but sometimes they’re going down into a cargo hold that’s not going to be the same level of temperature.
You’re going to want to keep in mind that inside of the crate you’re going to want to provide ample blankets just so that they have some body heat. Keep in mind as well that the sedatives that you use often will decrease body temperature. You’re going to want to provide those blankets so that they don’t experience as much cold as they would otherwise.
By working with your veterinarian, you can provide these options and you can even experiment with it before the day of travel so by using some of the anti-anxiety options leading up to the day of travel, that will improve their attitude for the actual day of travel and then as well if you are at home and you want to provide a little bit of that sedative and see how your pet is affected, that would be a good idea as well and here’s why. When you’re talking about sedation all animals are sensitive to medication to a different degree so if your vet does give you a sedative you’re going to want to start with the lowest dose possible and see how that impacts your pet and then add more every couple hours to achieve that level of sedation that you think is appropriate. By doing this I think you’ll be able to prepare well enough so that your pet experiences the least amount of stress during that travel time because the most important thing to us is your pet’s health here at healthcareforpets.com.
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