How Travel Can Affect Your Furbabies



Soaring temperatures and blazing heat are good signs that summer is almost here. During the hot season, many people will travel to a fun, festive destination for their vacation. Some owners don't want to leave their fur babies at home. They want their pets to enjoy their vacation with them.

Unfortunately, traveling to a destination can be extremely difficult, regardless of the transportation method. It's not only stressful for human beings; it has a similar impact on their animal companions.

How does traveling affect animals? In today's post, owners will learn how trips affect their pets' physical and emotional health. South Boston Animal Hospital veterinarians will also give several tips to reduce stress and protect fur babies during road trips.

Common Travel-Related Conditions in Pets

Travel anxiety and motion sickness are the top two illnesses that cats and dogs develop during road trips. Animals suffer from travel anxiety because of emotional stress. Car rides are scary for them because of past experiences. Some pets develop a negative association with automobiles because they only ride inside cars when visiting a veterinarian. As a result, they panic every time they ride inside a vehicle.

These pets have a hard time calming down because of their anxiety. Additionally, they may experience gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Researchers call this "classical conditioning." To counteract this negative response, owners must help their four-legged companions develop positive associations with road trips.

Ear issues cause motion sickness in pets. Animals develop the condition while traveling in cramped, confined spaces. Kittens and puppies are more likely to suffer from motion sickness than older pets because their inner ears haven't fully developed. These animals outgrow the condition once they grow up. Older pets usually suffer from motion sickness because of vestibular disease or the middle and inner ear infections.

Ten Symptoms of Motion Sickness or Travel-Related Anxiety

Motion sickness and travel anxiety can ruin a vacation before it even starts. Furbabies with the condition will have the following unpleasant symptoms.

  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Trembling
  • Mewing or barking
  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Whining or whelping
  • Scratching
  • Urinating and defecating
  • Attempt to escape.

How to Prevent Motion Sickness in Dogs and Cats

Most pet parents know how their fur babies will behave during road trips. You can help scared animals overcome their car-related anxieties using desensitization techniques. The Humane Society recommends that pet owners set aside several weeks to train their pets for road trips. First, take your pets on short trips to help them overcome any negative associations with cars. On the first day, place pets inside the vehicle and start the motor. Stay still for a few minutes, before leaving the car with your pet. Afterward, give your pet a treat.

Repeat the process on day two, except this time, you should back out of the driveway. Return to home, then park and leave the automobile. Lengthen the distance and time for your trips every day and gradually work up to 30-minute trips. It may take weeks to help pets form new associations and overcome their anxiety issues. 

If your pet continues to have issues with motion sickness, consider bringing them in for an exam. As we mentioned above, motion sickness can be caused or contributed to by ear issues, so you will want to make sure everything is okay before taking them on any lengthy road trips.

Additional Tips to Prevent Travel Anxiety and Motion Sickness

Pets are intensely curious, and they enjoy exploring new environments. Unfortunately, their exploration can lead to dangerous situations on the road.

The Humane Society recommends that pet parents should plan ahead to select safe, comfortable, accommodations for their pets. Follow these tips to keep their four-legged companions calm on the road.

  • Don't feed your pet 6-12 hours before traveling - Their empty stomach will reduce nausea symptoms and their need for bathroom breaks. Provide them with water bottles inside their carrier, so they'll have access to fresh water.
  • Place traveling pets inside crates - Carriers will keep fur babies safe while on the road. The cozy environment makes cats and dogs feel safe and prevents any accidents on the road. Before leaving home, owners should acclimate pets to their carriers. South Boston Animal Hospital recommends this guide to learn the basics of crate training. Search online for a selection of carriers for your pet.
  • Secure carriers with seat belts - The Humane Society recommends that owners place carriers on the back seat. Place touches of home inside crates - Owners should secure them with a seat belt to prevent them from falling. Additionally, it's a great idea to place an old blanket, t-shirt, or favorite toy with smells from home.
  • Provide soothing natural and hormonal treatments - Researchers have discovered that aromatherapy and pheromones can calm the frayed nerves of anxious furbabies. Some effective treatments include pheromones (Adaptil) that can help owners can add to pets' carriers. Good natural remedies including lavender, kava, valerian, passionflower, skullcap, and Bach flower can also ease anxiety-related symptoms in animals.
  • Establish a serene atmosphere – Pets relax better within a peaceful environment. Owners can create a tranquil environment by playing soothing classical music. They can also keep temperatures cool and steady within their vehicles to help pets stay comfortable.

Pet owners should see a veterinarian if these remedies don't soothe your furry pal. Bring them to South Boston Animal Hospital for a wellness checkup. We will make sure that your pet is healthy enough to travel.

Additionally, our staff can prescribe anti-nausea medications to treat motion sickness. These include dimenhydrinate (Dramamine or Gravol), meclizine (Antivert, Bonine) or Cerenia. We can also provide pets with extreme anxiety with medications like Alprazolam (Xanax). Our professionals can also administer any required vaccinations. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.