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Traveling with Pets in Cars: Tips From Veterinarian Dr. Cook

Posted May 25, 2015

With summer coming, many of my clients are wondering how to ease their dog or cat’s anxiety while traveling in the car. Dogs and cats just like people suffer from motion sickness and stress. Dogs may vomit or have diarrhea; and cats may yowl, drool, or urinate in the car to cope with the stress. However, with a little preparation and knowledge, you and your pet can have a stress-free road trip filled with fun memories to last a lifetime.

Pre-Road Trip To-Do’s For Dogs and Cats

Most pets have only been in their carriers during trips to see us veterinarians for medical reasons. So, it’s not surprising that pets become anxious the moment they see their carriers. Begin taking your cat and dog on short drives to the park in their carrier so that they can begin to associate their carriers with happy adventures.

Before any road trip with pets, put together a Travel Kit. Your kit should include:

Make sure your pets have microchips or collars with all the important identification and contact information.

It may be a good idea to begin your pet on a regiment of natural supplements to aid anxiety and stress just before and during the road trip. I have had great success with NHV Matricalm in calming cats and dogs. Matricalm contains herbs like chamomile and lemon balm, which do wonders to for nervous disorders, excitability, and anxiety; and herbs like valerian, which help strengthen the heart. Begin with the appropriate dosage for your pet’s weight twice daily a week in advance and continue for the entire duration of your trip.

On a side note – I’d like to share that I also use Matricalm with success for separation anxiety in dogs and inappropriate urinations in cats. I also find it very helpful in dogs who have aggressive tendencies. NHV Matricalm can be used both alone and in combination with pharmaceuticals. In my veterinary clinical experience, combination therapy with behavioral modifications work best for aggression and anxiety in dogs and cats. Please remember that any animals exhibiting behavioral disorders should have a thorough veterinary exam ruling out any medical conditions such as pain, infections, or endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism.

During the Road Trip

Give your pet a small meal about 2 hours prior to traveling in the car. This will help alleviate your pet’s carsickness. If you’re pet is doing well and is not vomiting in the car after 30 minutes, snacks are okay in the car.

Make sure that your pet, especially small dogs and cats are in secured carriers. Carriers provide protection in case of sudden car movements and will also provide protection for the driver as pets will be less of a distraction. Your carrier should be well ventilated, and large enough so your pet can lie down and turn around comfortably. Large dogs can be in the back seat, ideally with an appropriate restraining harness.

If your driving for a long period of time, make sure you are giving your pet ample breaks; at least once every 2 hours. Never leave pets alone in the car as this can cause heatstroke and death within minutes.

If your pet is feeling ill during the car trip try making a bandana for them and applying lavender essential oils. You may also want to use Rescue Remedy. In addition, pheromone sprays and melatonin also help.

Additional Support

By implementing the tips above, I have no doubt that you and your furry friends will be enjoying the summer, stress-free and happy. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me for an on-line veterinary consultation or contact your NHV Pet Expert – we’re all here to help!

Wishing you all (furry and non-furry) an amazing summer adventure!!

Yours in wellness,

Dr. H. Cook.

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