Summer is going strong in the USA, and you may be starting to plan different road trips and vacations with your friends and family. But what can you do if your pup is prone to anxiety while in the car? Luckily, there are a variety of helpful tips that may ease your companion's anxiety levels while traveling. On your next road trip, try these tricks for a less stressful journey:
Treats & Toys
For mild travel anxiety, your pup may just need something to distract them. Chew toys or a ball or snack they really enjoy are all common road trip must-brings. Don’t worry if you don’t have any handy or forget to pack such items for your pup, as there’s always the option to have pet suppliesdelivered to wherever you are. Once you have a toy or treat to distract your dog, they'll likely be too focused to even notice that they're in a car. This could grant you a nice and relaxing drive to your destination.
Bonus Tip - pack items that are familiar to your pet as a great way to ease their stress levels, like their favorite toy, blanket, etc.
Frequent Stops & Potty Breaks
If your dog is the type that vomits or has accidents on car rides, make sure to reduce his or her food intake before embarking on your journey. Additionally, be sure not to depart before they have gone to the bathroom. While it may be frustrating to wait, it will save you from the headache of cleaning up a mess later on. On top of ensuring your pup goes to the potty beforehand, it is equally important to make frequent stops throughout the drive so they can do their business outside rather than in the back seat.
Bonus Tip - Be mindful of your pet's behavior while driving. Continually stopping may actually trigger more anxiety and stress. It's up to you to know what's best for your dog.
Regularly Scheduled Massages
If your dog suffers from a more extreme level of anxiety or stress, whether in a car or not, one wellness trick worth testing out is to try pampering your dog from time to time. There's no need to provide them with an all-out spa day, but studies show that giving your dog regular massages is a great way to put them at ease and keep anxiety levels from rising. Not only that, but semi-frequent massages will help increase blood flow and help prevent arthritis as well. These one-on-one sessions can have lasting health benefits and ensure that your next trip is enjoyable and stress-free.
Bonus Tip - Massages are also a great way to increase the bond between you and your pup. It’s no secret that dogs need lots of love and attention, so give them as many pets and kisses while safely driving as possible. Extra points if you do so while they're calm - some positive reinforcement for good behaviors is never a bad idea.
Visit the Vet
Perhaps you’ve tried all of these methods and still, nothing seems to work for your pet. If that’s the case, then it may be time to consult your local veterinarian's office regarding anti-anxiety medication. If you have a trip coming up and you know your dog tends to get anxious on car rides, be sure to make an appointment well in advance (especially if it’s your pet's first visit to the vet). This way, your veterinarian can best prescribe your fur baby, and you’ll have plenty of time to acquire any medication you may need for the trip and test it out in a controlled environment.
Bonus Tip - While you may think you know your pet better than anyone, Veterinarians and Vet Techs have a wealth of information. Before you make any decisions for your pet, be sure to consult with them. These professionals deal with pets and travel anxiety daily and are sure to have some great insight into your pet’s anxious ways.
Don't forget - while these tips may help lower anxiety, all dogs have different needs and stressors. Ultimately, it is vital to understand and pay attention to what your individual pet is telling you so you can better help them. If one of these tricks doesn’t work for your dog, be sure to try another. Every pup is unique, so they’ll each have their own routines that work for them. In the rare event that something does happen to your dog or pet, it’s important to make sure that you’re covered with pet insurance.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.