Car travel can be very stressful for dogs and cats.
There’s the anxiety of being in a moving vehicle combined with the confined space, as well as strange sounds and smells. It’s something which you need to ease your pet into, especially if you’re looking at embarking on a long journey. Every dog and cat will react differently, so it’s important to consider your pets unique characteristics before hitting the road. We’ve put together a short list of ways you can reduce your pet’s stress when travelling, to make for a calmer and safer journey for both of you.
Get them used to the car first.
Planning for your trip well ahead of time is vital to the comfort of your pet. If your pet has never been in your vehicle before, introduce them to the back seat while the car is stationary. Sit here with them on a regular basis so that they begin to become used to the sights and sounds. Gradually progress to turning the car on and taking short trips. If you only ever put your pet in the car when going to the vet, then they’ll associate the car with fear and anxiety from the get-go! Trips to the vet are inevitable, but ensure that they’re balanced with journeys to their favourite park or a playmate’s house so that the car doesn’t begin to have negative connotations.
Introduce them to their harness or carrier well before your journey.
Safety is paramount when travelling with your pet. Securing your cat or dog in a harness or carrier is safer for everyone in the car. You don’t need the distractions of them pawing at you for attention while you drive, and they do not need the stress of being flung about the back seat when you suddenly brake. But these items can take a little getting used to for your furry friend. Be sure to introduce a harness or carrier to your cat or dog before a long trip, and do so first in the comfort of your home. If you usually only walk your dog on a lead, perhaps try switching to a harness, which will soften the transition to a car harness. Try placing toys in your cat’s carrier and leaving it in the house for them to explore before shutting them inside for the first time. The goal is to make these items as normal as possible for your pet, so they aren’t stressed on their first car journey.
Make regular stops.
You may be tempted to restrict the amount of water you give your pet before a long car trip, but it’s essential that your pup or kitty stays hydrated, and a change in their routine can make them very anxious. Plan to have a flexible schedule for your drive, as you may need to make a few more stops than usual to keep your pet comfortable. Regular breaks so that they can do their business and you can have a stretch will benefit you both. But keep in mind that accidents can still happen, so having a clean up kit in the boot is always a good idea. Just remember to stay calm and try not to get upset if the trip is taking longer than you anticipated or your pet does a number one or two on your back seat. Dogs and cats can pick up on your emotions. If you exude stress and anxiety, they will too.
Keep them occupied.
Give your pet something to do so that they don’t get bored and start chewing the seatbelts! Pack their favourite chew toy or a toy stuffed with treats if your furry friend. This will keep them occupied and make them less likely to bug you for attention. Just remember that the toys need to be driver-friendly too! No loud squeakers for long drives is a given! It’s also a great idea to pack frisbees or balls for dogs if there’s a park near your rest stop. Wearing your pooch out before getting back in the car may make them feel more relaxed, and even encourage a little nap!
Send them on their own holiday instead.
Unfortunately, for some cats and dogs, travel can be an incredibly stressful experience. It may be that your pet is a rescued pet and that past experiences have taught them to associate car travel with fear. Or they may be subject to horrible bouts of motion sickness. No matter how much we would like to take them on holiday with us, sometimes it’s unfair to place them in a situation where they feel extremely scared or sick in the car for hours on end. It can be much kinder to give them a little holiday of their own instead. At Samford Pet Resort, we treat all our pet guests as if they were our own, with kindness, attention and lots of pats! We can cater to your pet’s unique needs and dietary requirements, and we always endeavour to make them as comfortable as possible. If your pet isn’t suited to long car trips, book them in for a holiday at Samford Pet Resort instead and rest assured that they will stay safe and happy.