If the prospect of a car ride sets your four-footed companion to drooling or incessantly meowing, you may be more than a little hesitant to plan a lengthy trip with your chum. Unfortunately, dogs and cats, and some people too, may experience anxiety in a moving vehicle. Others find the conditions associated with motion physically upsetting when, in their minds, they believe they’re sitting still. Your trip doesn’t have to be a bust, however. There are a number of things you can try so you and your companion can enjoy your travel to the fullest – or at least make it tolerable!
Animals travel best on an almost empty stomach so don’t feed your dog or cat within several hours to ½ day of travelling. You can, however, offer your friend a little water before you leave and during your stops along the way.
Point your vents toward your animal to provide fresh air. This is safer than them sticking their heads out the window of a moving car. In warmer weather, even air conditioning can help settle his stomach.
Start getting your animal used to traveling as soon as possible. This is very important for animals who have genuine fear of the car and not just physical motion sickness. Nervous adults can benefit from step-by-step conditioning. Start by getting your animal comfortable inside a parked car. Then let her explore, pet her and offer some tasty treats. Next, start the engine but stay in the driveway. Finally, when your animal is comfortable, take her for a short drive, preferably to the park or a good friend’s house.
Energetic essences may help. These natural infusions can calm your “nervous Nelly’s” fears of travel. Choose from a number of brands, including Bach Rescue Remedy as well as blends made specifically for animals such as Canadian Forest Tree Essence’s Animal Rescue and Anaflora’s Return to Joy. Administer well ahead of time and throughout your trip, up to four times a day. You can also put a diluted form in a spray bottle and mist your car several times along the way.
Herbs may help. Consider the calming formulas on the market, as well as herbs that address stomach upset. Ginger is one herb recommended to fight nausea (as many pregnant women know!) and it can work for animals too. Try either ginger capsules — 1/8 to a full capsule for dogs, depending on the size of your animal (cats need only a sprinkle) or ginger snap cookies. If you can find them, sugarless cookies are best and can usually be found at a local pet bakeries or even by mail order. Treat your friend to a cookie before travelling and then periodically throughout your ride. Ginger works best if given twenty minutes before the big trip starts. There are also Chinese herbal formulas that address nausea as well as calming formulas, which may contain chamomile and valerian.
Of course, if you have a puppy or kitten, you have tremendous opportunity to make car travel a positive experience from an early age. By conditioning your companion to learn that car travel can be more than a ride to the vet’s office and using some of the above natural treatments and recommendations, you can turn your dog or cat into a queen or king of the road. All it takes is planning and patience.