March 4, 2022
Pet owners don’t always take their pets with them when they travel, but there may be times when you may want to bring them along, or have to, such as with a big move to a new location. Also, a pet with a more nervous or anxious temperament can make it challenging for you to travel in comfort.
However, there are many times when traveling with a nervous pet can be more beneficial for the pet to help it overcome its fears, and when being with you will provide it the comfort it needs. If you have to travel with a pet that suffers from anxiety, there are several helpful tips and advice to make the experience a smooth transition for you and your pet.
Understand Your Pet’s Body Language
It is most helpful to understand when your pet feels nervous or anxious. When your pet is stressed out, there are many common signs and symptoms, so look for them. They will include:
- Frequent shivering or whimpering
- Barking, howling or meowing
- Panting and pacing
- Cowering and tucking its tail
- Excessive digging
- Destruction of items or furniture
- Excessive chewing, yawning or licking
Your pet may often sport a glazed-over look in its eyes or continue to shake off like it is wet as well. Noticing these signs is the first step to knowing how to help relieve them. However, if you are having trouble preventing anxiety in your pet after trying some of these suggestions, you can always consult with an animal behavioral specialist for further assistance.
Practice Travel Runs
It would be best if you worked at gradually introducing your pet to the idea of traveling in a vehicle. For example, take your pet on your next trip when running errands for short periods to get it familiar with traveling. Your pet will become accustomed to traveling in the car and will be less likely to feel anxious or stressed when they have already spent a lot of time in your vehicle.
For example, bring your pet the next time you make a run to the drive-thru, to a bank, or even a pet shop where you can bring the pet in with you. You can promote a positive association with travel for your pet so it will not be nervous.
If you have a pet that suffers from anxiety while traveling, you may need to plan far ahead of time to approach the matter. First, start with the car parked, bring your pet out to the back, and provide it with a lot of praise and treats. If you do this for a few minutes every day for a few weeks and gradually increase the length of time in the parked car, then you can eventually bring your pet on short car rides. It helps to desensitize your pet to the idea of being in the car and the stress of a moving vehicle so that you can associate travel in a positive way.
Keep Your Pet Secure and Calm
Nervous pets need to feel secure while traveling. You might want to install a pet harness belt or utilize a crate for your trip. If your pet also has a small bed that you can bring on the trip, that will help it to feel calmer.
You can bring familiar objects or favorite toys to help keep your pet less anxious. Blankets, games, puzzles, and treats are also helpful with easing stress and keeping your pet distracted during your trip.
Another form of security for your pet is swaddling. You can use weighted blankets like the ThunderShirt, which can calm anxiety in animals. Vests and blankets you can wrap your pet in will go a long way to keeping it calm and relaxed on your journey.
Lots of Petting and Praise
Nervous pets need assurance just like any human would. Ensure you speak to your pet in a calm, soothing voice, and provide it with a lot of praise for positive reinforcement. Stroke your pet frequently, and even massage it in places like the ears or back.
There are acupressure places to help alleviate anxiety in your pet. The pressure point above the carpus, like your pet’s wrist, is a great place to hold if you sense your pet is getting nervous. Lavender oil is known for its soothing qualities, so you can rub a little bit on your fingers and rub your pet with it, allowing the scent to do its magic.
Air Travel With Nervous Pets
If you have to travel by plane, you must prepare for an anxious pet. Crates or carriers will most likely be necessary, so be sure to research the airline policies and procedures regarding bringing your pet for proper handling.
There are other factors to consider with air travel, such as security and being around more people, which can further aggravate your stressed-out pet. Give yourself plenty of time and work to accommodate your pet with the airport if you can make frequent trips long before the actual one.
Running through an airport to catch your gate or flight will be an awful situation for a nervous pet. Ensure that you arrive with plenty of time before your flight so that you’re not rushing, as this can increase the anxiety in your pet since they will sense the urgency from you.
Consult Your Veterinarian
If none of these suggestions seem to be working and you still have significant concerns for your anxious pet, you should talk to your veterinarian. Your vet may be able to offer some other helpful advice for you and your pet or possibly prescribe something like a mild sedative to help your pet relax and stay calm during your trip.
As moves and travel with your pet can be time-consuming and stressful to prepare for, you must work to keep yourself calm and relaxed during this time as well. Pets are sensitive to your emotions and feelings. So do your part to put in the effort and make the transition as smooth as possible for yourself and your furry companion to travel safely.