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Travel Smarter - Not Harder - With Your Pets

Author: Dr. Jacquelin Koenig

Thinking about traveling for the Holidays this year?  Want to bring your pets but you’re worried that they’ll be too stressed?  Does your dog bark, pace, drool excessively, tremble or vomit while riding in the car?  If so, your pet could be telling you that they are anxious and could benefit from a few of these quick tips from the veterinarians at Calvert Veterinary Center.

Relaxation Vacation:

Don’t ruin this special time of year with family by having a stressed pet.  Stressed pets are anxious and can create anxiety for the people around them.  Remember these tips to create a relaxing environment.

  • Adaptil- This product releases synthetic pheromones which are invisible chemical messengers produced by mothers shortly after birth.  Pheromones create a calming sensation and are clinically proven to reduce stress in pets and work great for traveling.  This product comes in a collar that is activated by body heat and a spray that can be used on blankets and car seats. (Feline version is Feliway)
  • Thundershirt- Similar to how an infant feels when swaddled, this product applies constant, gentle pressure to your dog or cat and provides a sense of security.
  • Solliquin Chews- This is a behavior health supplement that contains a unique combination of ingredients to help calm anxious dogs and cats.  This can be used daily or prior to stressful events such as car rides.
  • Music- Be mindful of how loud your music is.  Dogs’ ears are 4 times more sensitive than ours.  Try playing classical music for your pet such as “Through a Dog’s Ear,” available for download or on CD.
  • Medications- For especially anxious pets in the car, calming medications are available by prescription.  Make an appointment at Calvert Veterinary Center to see if this is the right choice for your pet.

Pack a Doggy Bag:

Be Prepared.  Similar to packing a diaper bag for a baby, pack a bag full of belongings that you can grab in a pinch.

  • Collapsible water and food bowls- These are great space savers and make feeding time easy.
  • Poop Bags- These are a must so that you don’t find yourself digging through your trunk for something to clean up with.
  • Flash light- For those urgent stops in the dark.
  • Toys- This is a great way to keep your pet occupied.  Try fillable toys such as Kongs.  These are a great distraction and provide positive reinforcement by associating car rides with something yummy.  Fill these toys with your pet’s favorite treat.  Try peanut butter, canned dog food or spray cheese.  Even freeze the toys to make them last longer.
  • Blankets from home- Bringing a comfortable blanket or t-shirt from home will not only supply a comfortable sleeping place but it will also provide a familiar scent during an unfamiliar road trip.
  • Water proof seat covers- This will save you the head ache of the impossible task of vacuuming fur from every nook and cranny in your car.

Travel Safely:

This is a priority whenever traveling but is even more of a consideration when adding pets to your travel plans.

  • Doggy seat belt harness- This will keep your best friend secured safely in a seat and off your lap.
  • Carrier- Cats and dogs not using a seat belt harness should be kept in a carrier or a soft-sided crate whenever on the road and secured in a safe place to prevent sliding.
  • Weather- Consider the weather when traveling and keep your car well ventilated.  Never leave pets unattended in hot cars.
  • Microchip- Be prepared for the unexpected and make sure your pet returns to you if they wander away.

Healthy Reminders:

Stressful situations can wreak havoc on the immune system.  Remember these healthy reminders to keep your pets in tip-top shape.

  • Vaccines- This is the best way to keep your pet healthy in an unfamiliar environment.  Don’t ruin your trip by having a sick pet.  Prevent the preventable by contacting Calvert Veterinary Center.
  • Motion sickness- If your pet tends to get car sick, try feeding a small meal in the morning and several small meals throughout the day.  Remember to never withhold water.  Several medications are available by prescription to prevent motion sickness.
  • Potty Breaks- Whenever possible try to stop at rest stops for a break.  Most rest stops provide a separate area for your pet to eliminate and some will even provide bags to clean up with.
  • Health Certificates- Each state has different preventive health requirements that are enforced to limit the spread of disease.  Whenever crossing state lines with a pet, a health certificate is required to make sure they are healthy for travel.  Make an appointment at Calvert Veterinary Center several weeks before traveling to get a health certificate for your pet and find out the state requirements for your destination.  If you are traveling internationally there are many additional steps to take for your pet to be ready for travel. 
  • Visit for details on interstate travel requirements as well as international travel requirements so you or your pet don’t get left behind.  .

Remember that every pet behaves differently under stress.  It can be a time of joy for some and anxiety producing for others.  The veterinarians at Calvert Veterinary Center are here to make traveling with your pets as stress-free as possible.  Calvert Veterinary Center has several USDA accredited veterinarians who can complete international health certificates and help you through the travel process to ensure your pet can travel safely.  Contact us today to set up an appointment for your pet!




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