This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

Buy 1, Get One 40% OFF No Code Needed

How to Navigate Your Pet's Travel Anxiety

On the Road to Serenity: Unleash Travel Tranquility for Your Pets

happy-hounds-header-how-to-navigate-pet-travel-anxiety-in-dogs

Navigating Your Dog or Cat's Anxiety on the Road

By: Tess Marty 

 

As we embark on journeys to visit loved ones or explore new destinations, our pets are often at the forefront of our minds. From boarding to driving and flying, if you are a pet parent, your companions are probably a huge part of your travel plans (and yes, sometimes they revolve around them entirely, we don’t blame you!). However, for many dogs and cats, travel can be a source of anxiety, and finding the right solution will save them (and you) extra stress during trips. 

Whether it's the separation from their human family members during boarding, the unfamiliarity of new environments, new modes of transportation, car sickness, or the hustle of holiday traffic and rushing, understanding and addressing travel anxiety beforehand is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable journey. 

In this article, we'll delve into the various aspects of travel and separation anxiety in both dogs and cats, covering car trips, plane journeys, and the ins and outs of boarding and traveling with pets. We’ll cover:

  • Understanding Anxiety in Pets

  • Choosing the Right Airline

  • Car Rides and Crating  

  • Alternate Travel Options

  • How to Use CBD for Pet Travel Anxiety 

  • Boarding vs. Sitting 

  • Post-Travel Comfort 

How Travel and Separation Anxiety Manifest

For both dogs and cats, the prospect of being separated from their human family members can trigger anxiety, whether that’s when traveling or in general. This anxiety may manifest in behaviors such as excessive barking/meowing, whining, destructive chewing or scratching, or litter box avoidance.

When traveling, keep in mind that dogs are overall more social creatures than cats and can benefit from being comforted around people or other dogs (if that is something they normally find enjoyable). Cats on the other hand are more solitary, and may benefit from a quiet space away from commotion to decompress.  

To ease separation anxiety during boarding, or really any time your pet might be alone, it's essential to gradually acclimate them. Practice leaving them for short periods and gradually increase the duration over time. Additionally, create positive associations with your departure by offering treats or toys before you leave. Start out with just going to check the mail, then maybe take a loop around the block.

 

Flying with Your Pets ✈️

happy-hounds-yorkie-in-airport-pet-travel-anxiety-tips

Traveling by plane introduces a new set of challenges, particularly when your pets need to be transported in cargo. Schedule a visit to the vet before flying to ensure your pet is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations, and discuss any concerns about motion sickness and anxiety. Research and choose airlines with pet-friendly policies, including options for in-cabin travel if your pet is small enough. Check here for details.

If your pet must travel in cargo, ensure that the crate is well-ventilated, secure, and labeled with your contact information. Make sure their microchip is active and connected to the right information, and consider putting an air tag on their collar. 

For in-cabin travel, check airline-specific requirements regarding carrier dimensions and regulations. Most companies will say if their product is airline approved. 

Other Modes of Transportation:

For some, flying a pet in cargo just isn’t an option. Some pets are too anxious to be handled by others without their parents around. For this, it might be beneficial to explore alternative transportation methods, such as pet-friendly trains, busses, or pet transport companies. Some pets may find certain modes of transportation less stressful than others. 

How to Help Your Dog with Car Anxiety

happy-hounds-how-to-help-anxious-pets-in-the-car-road-trips

 

For many pets, the car represents a unique challenge. Some dogs love the wind in their fur and exposure to new environments, while others can find the experience overwhelming. Similarly, most cats are not fans of car rides and some pets face car sickness that can cause vomiting, trembling, or other nervous reactions. 

To alleviate travel anxiety in dogs and cats, it’s important to familiarize your pets with car rides before they happen. Start by letting your pet explore the stationary car to associate it with positive experiences. Use lots of treats during this phase, since you won’t be moving and potentially getting carsick. Then gradually progress to short rides around the block to acclimate them to the motion.

The most important factor for calming your pets anxiety in the care is making sure they are comfortable and feel safe. You can use comforting items like blankets from home, toys, or a bed to provide a sense of security. 

Can Crating Help with Anxious Car Rides?

Use a car seat, crate, or pet-specific seat belt in order to keep them more stationary (and safe!). This can help alleviate car sickness and pacing. Some dogs do better in a crate where they can’t see what is happening around them. Crating for dogs or creating a smaller space for cats can help them feel more secure and reduce destructive behavior or potentially dangerous behavior.

Happy-Hounds-CBD-blog-article-dog-travel-crate-anxiety

It’s key to keep an eye on the clock to gauge how long it takes for your pet becomes anxious. Pay close attention to triggers and physical cues like panting and shaking. Most pets are extremely sensitive to routine and change.

Our friend and dog trainer, Tess, suggests to act like you’re getting ready to leave, all the way up to putting your coat on and grabbing your keys, and then not leaving at all. This will help desensitize your pet to the idea that your getting ready is a reason to become anxious.

Practice going out of your door, locking it how you would if you were leaving for a while, and then come back in. For some pets, even the sound of the deadbolt can have them thinking they’ll be alone for a while. Consult a professional positive reinforcement trainer if you’re having issues. 

 In terms of travel preparation, practice longer stays in their carrier, moving with the carrier, and staying quiet. Putting their travel items out in sight beforehand allows them to explore and acclimate before they are put in crates or in new harnesses. Some good cues to practice with your dog to prepare are “settle,” “down,” and “place.” For cats, you might consider practicing going in and out of the carrier without stress.

Leave the carrier open for a few days with some treats or toys in it to entice them to explore on their own, so you don’t stress them with force. Try putting their cat harness on and letting them walk around in it, and slowly add their leash to practice following your lead. 

Tips for reducing car crate anxiety by The Wildest

Using these tactics before you travel can help reduce overall anxiety as well as travel anxiety, and help them to acclimate better when their routine shifts unexpectedly. 

Preparing Your Cats for Travel 

the-happy-pets-blog-how-reduce-cat-car-anxiety-road-trip

For cats, consider using a carrier with a soft lining and familiar scents so they can settle in for the trip—especially since they don’t get to stretch their legs as often as a dog might. Use a cat harness and leash to keep them from running off or away. 

Make frequent stops—plan for regular breaks to allow your pet to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and get some fresh air. When taking a break, allow your dog to sniff at their leisure. Letting your dog sniff around outside during a trip can majorly reduce car anxiety! Sniffing is a great opportunity for your dog to learn about their surroundings and provides calming mental stimulation

Other Modes of Transportation:

For some, flying a pet in cargo just isn’t an option. Some pets are too anxious to be handled by others without their parents around. For this, it might be beneficial to explore alternative transportation methods, such as pet-friendly trains, busses, or pet transport companies. Some pets may find certain modes of transportation less stressful than others. 

Can Boarding Help With Separation Anxiety? 

When you can't bring your pet along, whether due to travel restrictions or specific circumstances, boarding or hiring a pet sitter are common alternatives. Here's what to expect:

To ease separation anxiety during boarding, or really any time your pet might be alone, it's essential to gradually acclimate them. Practice leaving them for short periods and gradually increase the duration over time. Additionally, create positive associations with your departure by offering treats or toys before you leave. Start out with just going to check the mail, then maybe take a loop around the block.

how-board-an-anxious-dog-happy-hounds-calm-pet-travel-anxiety

When boarding your pet away from home, choose a reputable boarding facility with trained staff and clean, insured, and safe accommodations. Provide the facility with detailed information about your pet's routine, diet, and any medical needs. Remember, though, routines will probably be a bit different at a large facility, so try not to stress, and let the professionals handle it.

We get it, it’s hard to not give a second-by-second rundown of your pet’s day, but just remember that at minimum, your pet will be fed, exercised, and most of all, safe. A high quality facility will take the time to listen to concerns about your pet and their anxiety. Make sure you’re planning ahead with a facility your pet is comfortable with, and consider dropping them for daycare or a play group a few times before their stay so it’s not as jarring. 

Hiring a Dog or Cat Sitter:

When going with a sitter, opt for a professional pet sitter with experience in dog behavior, or a trusted friend or family member—having them stay with someone they know can reduce their stress and yours. Ask your regular caretakers like your trainer or walker if they have suggestions or if they offer any kind of sitting services. It may be beneficial for extremely anxious pets to find someone who will stay in your home, which will reduce the stress from a change in environment.

Provide your sitter with a comprehensive care plan, including feeding schedules, exercise routines, and emergency contact information, including their vet and closest emergency vet. For anxious pets, consider packing a harness-to-collar safety strap or a martingale collar for extra protection on walks. Some pets may get spooked on a walk with another handler, and you don’t want them slipping their harness! Leave behind comforting items, such as your pet's favorite toys or blankets. Consider sleeping with their blanket for a couple of nights beforehand so it keeps your smell and brings them the comfort of home. 

happy-hounds-pet-blog-on-hiring-a-dog-sitter-to-combat-anxiety-in-pets

Our friend, Tess Marty is a well-equipped dog trainer and sitter with a lot of expertise in the field. 

Post-Travel Pet Care

After you return from your trip, your pet's may experience a higher level of separation anxiety. Extra clinginess and constant concerns about your whereabouts, are common in recently boarded pets. They may be scared they will be left again. Acting skittish around car rides or nervous upon your return to work, thinking the trip will be long again are normal reactions.

It may take a few days for your pets to re-adjust. Giving them the space and love during this time can be important in lessening the impact over time. Take it easy during this time--adding a calming aid to their breakfast or dinner can be the relaxing mood support they need. You’ll want to give them some extra affection, too, as they readjust.

In addition, it may be beneficial to leave your pet with their sitter or boarding an extra day so you can get back in the swing of things. Re-establish routine with your pets, take them for a nice decompressing stroll, and with cats, allow them to comfortably adjust back by hiding or getting extra pets from you.

Using CBD to Combat Pet Travel Anxiety

Monitor them for any signs of increased anxiety, CBD Pet Oil at the start of the day as you start to return to normalcy and keeping up with treats throughout the day can help your pets regulate their anxiety during this period. 

Even with all of these tips in place, your pet may be anxious overall with the idea and actions of traveling. Happy Hounds Calm CBD dog treats can provide major benefits to pets, from coping with the stress of travel, new places, and separation or sitting.

tincture or dropper may provide a base to decrease anxiety for the most part. CBD treats are great to pack for a sitter, in your travel bag, or to give right before dropping them off at the airport, sitters, or boarding. Make sure you tell whoever your caregiver is how to dose their CBD properly

In Conclusion

Traveling with pets can be a great experience both for them and for us, but it requires careful consideration of their specific needs and anxieties. Every pet is different, and every situation is unique. We know as well as anyone else that travel is often filled with hiccups—hello, holiday airport delays and traffic—but by having a plan in place and practice under their collar, travel stress and separation anxiety can hopefully be a thing of the past.

By understanding and addressing separation anxiety, preparing for car and plane journeys, and making informed choices about boarding or hiring a sitter, you can ensure that your pets feel secure and comfortable during your holiday adventures. With a bit of planning and patience, you and your pets can enjoy the journey together, creating lasting memories for the entire family.

Happy travels from your furiends at Happy Hounds CBD 🐶

Leave a comment

Cart

No more products available for purchase

Your cart is currently empty.