Travelling with anxious pets
Anxiety in pets can be displayed in many ways, barking, chewing objects, obsessive licking, whining, shivering are all classic signs that a pet is under stress.
When you are relocating your pet and need to travel long distances whether by land, air, or sea this will be a stressful event for both you and your pet.
There are things that you can do before travel that can help reduce the anxieties.
As soon as you have an idea you may be making a long trip start to acclimatise your pet to that environment.
For example, if you are about to take a long road trip, start a couple of weeks before the trip with your pet in your car doing short journeys every day. Start with a 5-minute trip and build up the time to perhaps an hour by the end of the 2-3 weeks.
Make each journey to a place to walk your pet (this works for both cats and dogs) by the end of the 2-3 weeks your pet will associate the car journey with fun places and be happy to travel.
If your pet gets travel sickness you can consult your vetinarian as it may be possible to prescribe non drowsy sickness medication.
Crate training is important for both car and aircraft travel.
Crate training relieves anxiety.
Once you have purchased your crate put it into a room your pet spends a lot of time in. Put your pets favourite toy and blanket into the crate (check out my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/petrelocationinternational you can see a demo from one of my dogs entering his crate).
Hide treats under the bedding and always keep the crate door open. Spend a few minutes a day with your pet playing around the crate and throw treats inside the crate to entice your pet inside. After a week or so start to feed your pet inside the crate.
If you have a dog, after their daily walk put a water bowl next to the crate and ask your dog to lie down inside of the crate (still with the door open) make this a daily routine. You should find that your dog will then naturally move to rest inside the crate and find it an area of comfort.
By taking these steps you will help your pet to feel safe and secure in the crate. This will then ease the pet’s anxiety when they are being transported.
I also recommend herbal calming supplements such as St John’s Wort for dogs to help alleviate anxiety before travel. I recommend speaking to a vet on the best course of action to administer the herbal relaxant.
I have transported my own dogs and can speak from personal experience that my boarder terrier started taking small amounts of St John’s Wort 3 weeks before travel. My dog was still anxious, this is something that cannot be completely alleviated, but he was calmer and far less agitated than on a previous flight he had taken. You can find more information about St John’s Wort here - https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/4-uses-for-st-johns-wort-for-dogs/
Before travel, make sure you are talking to your pet, giving lots of reassurance to them. Your animals feed from human emotions, they are very perceptive and will feel your anxieties and mimic them. Try to be calm and positive around your pets.
The day before travel make sure your give your pets a good play. If you have a dog, take it for a long walk an hour after you have fed them their dinner. This will help them to open their bowels before flying.
On the day of travel give your pet a small breakfast and plenty of water. Take your dog for a short walk and keep them distracted from the busyness that will be going on around them (this could be asking a neighbour or friend to pop over and play with the dog whilst you collect your last belongings together).
Remember that if you are travelling by car, ventilation and water is key, your pet will not like to get hot or cold or be thirsty. Your pet will also need to be safe and secure, whether this is with a pet harness that attaches into a seat belt or the crate, it is always important to make sure your pet can not roam around your vehicle for the safety of all that are travelling.
f you are flying by air, make sure you allow plenty of time to take your pet to the designated departure area. Remember to stay calm and to talk and reassure your pet.
By following the above guidance both owner and pet will be prepared for travel.
· Purchase crate as far ahead of travel as possible
· Place the travel crate in an area of the house your pet spends the most time in
· Put a favourite blanket and toy into the crate for positive association
· If travelling by car take short journeys with your pet and make the destinations a fun place for your pet to explore
· Play with your pet around the travel crate
· Always leave the door open to the travel crate
· Throw treats into the travel crate as a fun game
· Feed your pet in the travel crate after around a week of it being in the house
· When you have had the travel crate for a couple of weeks and your dog is happy going in and out, ask your dog to lie in the travel crate after their daily walk, always do this with the door open
· Speak to your vet about herbal supplements
· Keep calm and try not to allow your anxiety to show to your pet