Now that the summer has arrived, many of us are preparing for vacations, and while many people leave their furry friends at home when traveling, some of us choose to include them in our travel plans. That being said, some cats and dogs are more comfortable with being on the road than others. Plus, it is common for cats to show more signs of stress when traveling than dogs, who tend to be more resilient to the idea of traveling in a car, or even on a plane.
However, that does not mean that our furry friends can’t have a fulfilling experience while on vacation with us. It is possible to take certain measures that can minimize anxiety as you travel with your furry companion. So, this summer, if you plan to take your pet with you on a trip, make sure to take their needs seriously to avoid exposing them to excessive anxiety.
Traveling with Pets: Is it Advisable?
Obviously, there are all kinds of circumstances that can determine the potential risks you’re dealing with when taking a cat or dog on the road. The means of travel is one, as pets will typically be in more distress on a plane than in a car. You also need to take your pet’s current health into account. Pets who are older or have severe health issues may be best kept at home, as high stress can exacerbate existing issues such as heart troubles or kidney dysfunction. Also, you should only take a pet on a plane if you can be assured by the travel company that they have specific protocol for ensuring pet’s safety on board.
Ultimately, this is a conversation to be had with your veterinarian, who fully knows your pet’s unique circumstances and whether or not travel is therefore advisable. Still, it is important to point out that if you do think your pet will not respond well to traveling, it would be best to find someone to watch them at home than to take them with you.
Why Do Some Pets Find Traveling Stressful?
Cats and dogs are creatures of habit, and we were once as well, before our species evolved to better handle unpredictability and long-distance travel. While new environments are exciting to us, they can be extremely terrifying to pets who do not feel comfortable in an environment that is not familiar. It can take them a long time to adjust to a new home, as many of us know, as it takes time for them to be assured that their new environment does not pose any threats to their safety. Bringing them to a new location when traveling means that they will once again need to get used to the fact that they’re not in any actual danger.
Pets and Anxiety: What to Know
Pets with travel anxiety may or may not make their distress obvious. Both cats and dogs have a biological impulse to hide their fear in order to not appear weak in the eyes of predators. Still, there are some ways to tell whether or not your pet is feeling symptoms of anxiety or stress while traveling.
- Refusing to eat
- Excessive vocalization
- Avoidance of touch
- Enlarged pupils
- Excessive shedding
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Sleeping too much or not sleeping
How to Calm Your Pet Down When Traveling
Even a pet who can generally tolerate traveling may experience moments of stress during the experience. If you believe that your pet can handle the demands of traveling, but you still want to keep them as calm as possible, here are some tips to follow.
Tip #1: Create a Calming Environment
Just about any cat or dog will be on edge to some extent once they are away from their home and show signs of hypervigilance. Therefore, it can be helpful to create as calming of an environment as possible by designing some kind of shelter. Pets like to be in fairly confined spaces when they are nervous, so consider purchasing a comfortable traveling vehicle such as a mesh bag where they feel completely protected from external harm.
Tip #2: Drown Out Loud and Unpredictable Noises
Traveling comes with all kinds of new sounds that your pet may become distressed by, especially if they are loud or unpredictable. So, do your best to dampen these sounds with calming music or white noise.
Tip #3: Bring Their Favorite Toy, Blanket or Bed
Pets are smell-oriented creatures and can be afraid of smells that are unfamiliar. So, when they’re traveling, make sure they have their favorite toy, blanket, or bed which smells like home to keep them calmer.
Tip #4: Bring Pheromone Spray
Pheromone spray for cats or dogs mimics the naturally occurring pheromones released by their bodies and can be comforting to them in moments of stress.
Tip #5: Keep Their Routine Intact
Make sure to follow your pet’s already-existing routine as closely as possible, especially feeding times, to maintain some sense of familiarity and predictability.
Tip #6: Consider More Advanced Options
If your pet has extreme anxiety, it might be best to speaking with your veterinarian for more advanced treatment such as medications.
CBD for Pets on the Road: What Can It Offer?
If you want to minimize stress for your pet in a way that’s natural and holistic, consider cannabidiol (CBD).
Study #1: CBD is a naturally occurring compound in the hemp plant generally approved for cats and dogs.
Study #2: Since CBD is a cannabinoid, which is a type of compound that’s nontoxic to all mammals, and because every mammal has an endocannabinoid system that uses cannabinoids like CBD to regulate processes of the body through a process of binding to cannabinoid receptors, it can brain help balance neurotransmitters involved in the stress response, such as cortisol. As a result, many people use cannabidiol to achieve a sense of calm.
Note: If you are going to give CBD to your pet, you need to cover a few bases beforehand to make sure that you’re administering it in a way that is as safe as possible.
Speak with Your Vet
They recognize your pet’s unique needs, as well as medications that they are on. Don’t give cannabidiol to a pet before getting your vet’s approval, especially if they are taking medications, as some medications can only be broken down with the CYP3A4 enzyme which can be inhibited by hemp. Talk to your vet for more information.
Note: If your pet does show a severe stress response, such as uncontrollable shaking, panting, or chewing at their skin, you should also seek the care of a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Give Them a Pet-Friendly CBD Product
Only give your pet a product made especially for cats and dogs. Products made for humans can contain ingredients that are toxic for cats and dogs to ingest. These ingredients include many commonly used essential oils including tea tree and eucalyptus. CBD pet products are made with nontoxic ingredients that are safe for your pet to consume.
Go with the Right Delivery Method
Topical CBD products are for localized areas of the body, so go with an internal method like a Chill Paws tincture or treat, which provides them with cannabidiol that is capable of crossing the blood brain barrier to promote effects pertaining to the nervous system. These formulas can be given to your pet daily and are made to appeal to their taste buds and other senses.
Dose According to the Directions
CBD products made for pets come with clear dosing instructions based on a pet’s weight. Follow these instructions carefully so that your pet gets enough CBD for it to be effective, but not so much that it causes unwanted side effects like potential grogginess.
Give Them a Daily Dose
It is best to administer CBD to your pet daily, starting with, preferably, 2 weeks prior to travel, and a few days after they return as they readjust to their normal routine. Starting them on CBD early ensures that it is present in their system, as it can take up to a couple of weeks for CBD to fully take effect due to its need to accumulate in the body.