It is natural to take your beloved dog with you everywhere you go. However, not all dogs enjoy traveling, whether by car, train, or plane. How do you calm dogs with travel anxiety when traveling?
Specific training to get your dog used to traveling is the first way to reduce a dog’s anxiety levels while traveling. Other methods include using calming aids, sedatives and creating a comfortable travel environment for your dog.
This article discusses how stressful travel is for dogs, the sedation of dogs before a trip, and what you can give to calm your dog before traveling. I also share the best calming aids for dogs and how to keep your dog comfortable on a long car ride.
How Stressful Is Traveling for Dogs?
Few pets are as active, curious, and happy as dogs, and traveling is a great adventure for both you and your dog. However, traveling can be stressful for dogs for many reasons, including a previous bad experience from traveling like a car accident, motion sickness, and the anxiety from being confined.
If your dog associates travel with unpleasant destinations like the vet or grooming services, it can become stressed during travel. Some signs of anxiety and stress in dogs before and during traveling are:
- Panting and trembling.
- Excessive salivation.
- Agitation and tense muscles.
- Urinating or passing stools.
- Howling, whining, and barking.
- Pulled back ears and wide-open eyes with the whites sometimes showing.
- Crouching close to the ground or trying to hide.
- Attempting to escape.
A stressed dog makes the trip stressful for everyone, so you either train your dog to be comfortable with traveling or employ calming aids.
Should I Sedate My Dog for Travel?
Sedation should be an option only if your dog cannot relax by any other means during travel, and it may harm itself in a panic. Before using any sedative, please talk to a vet because the vet must assess your dog’s health to prescribe the best medication.
Once the vet prescribes a sedative, a drug trial must be done either at the vet clinic or your home before you use it for travel. The test determines the proper dose, how long the effects of the drug last, and checks for any side effects.
Sedatives help your pet sleep throughout the trip and prevent nausea and vomiting. They can also be dangerous to your pet in the following ways:
- Affect the respiration, body temperature, and heart rate of dogs. Added breathing problems can be hazardous for a dog of the snub-nose breed
- They may increase the panic levels of a dog. A drowsy and confused dog can worry and panic.
- A sedated dog cannot stand properly or maintain balance, which may increase injury risks.
For these reasons, experts strongly advise against using sedatives and tranquilizers for dogs, especially for flights.
What Can I Give My Dog to Calm Down When Traveling?
Whether by air, bus, car, or train, dogs both old and new to traveling may find it stressful sometimes. Their confusion and discomfort stem from unfamiliar smells, experiences, and sounds, and reducing their stress and anxiety improves their health and enjoyment of the trip.
Motion sickness is a common occurrence during travel, similar to humans. Puppies are affected more than adults, and many of them will outgrow it. But if your dogs are still finding traveling difficult, here are some tips to help calm them down:
- Spray dog pheromones in your car to help make the environment calming.
- Antihistamines and sedatives like Cerenia, Benadryl, Gabapentin, and trazodone.
- Herbal remedies, including chamomile, lavender, and passionflower, can be used as aromatherapy before trips.
- Calming treats contain vitamins and herbs that can soothe the symptoms of your dog’s anxiety. Vet’s Best Comfort Calming Soft Chews is an excellent calming treat you can use.
- CBD oil and remedies are a popular calming aid for dog parents. Use them with caution, though, because studies are still underway to see how best they can be used in pets.
You cannot enjoy your journey if your dog is miserable, so ensure their comfort before and during the entire trip.
What Is the Best Calming Aid for Dogs?
There are many dog sedatives and calming aids available for travel, and each soothes a different level of anxiety in dogs. The best aids for dogs are:
- Adaptil – a calming pheromone diffuser specific for dogs.
- ThunderShirt Classic Dog Anxiety Jacket – a body wrap that provides a reassuring pressure for your dog.
- ThunderWunders Calming Soft Chews.
- NaturVet Calming Soft Chews.
- Vet’s Best Comfort Calming Soft Chews
- Pet Tunes by Pet Acoustics is a portable and rechargeable speaker preloaded with music produced at a dog’s frequency.
- Zylkene anxiety supplement is a natural product derived from milk that helps to calm your dog in unpredictable circumstances.
- The Anxious Pet Organic Hemp Oil.
Try a few options before choosing the perfect assistance or combination of aids that are suitable for your dog.
How Can I Make My Dog Comfortable on a Long Car Ride?
Using counter-conditioning and desensitization, you can teach any dog to associate car rides with nice things. Counter-conditioning changes your dog’s negative emotional response to positive by doing nice things near and inside the car.
De-sensitization is a step-by-step process of slowly introducing your dog to the car. Whatever method you use, you can also add these to make your dog comfortable on a long car ride:
- Carry enough water because dogs can quickly become dehydrated. You can also stop at water fountains along the way.
- Exhaust your dog before traveling by going on a long walk or run.
- Minimize access to food and water before your journey to eliminate the risks of stomach upset.
- Allow your dog to get familiar with their travel carrier if you use one, and try to do this long before your travel date.
- Provide your dog with their favorite blanket, treats, chew toys, and even food and water dishes. Having a piece of home with them goes a long way in comforting them.
- Talk to your dog, touch them, and stop for rest and playtime every few hours.
These preparatory tips are tried and tested, so do not be afraid to travel with your dog and create fun memories!