Brightwood Animal Hospital

9640 Old Johnnycake Ridge Rd
Mentor, OH 44060


Canine Travel By Car

In our mobile society, chances are your dog will travel with you at some time. When possible, prepare your pet by gradually exposing it to the elements or sequences of the trip. If your pet is not used to traveling, brief frequent trips are the best way to exposure it to this experience. The steps are detailed below. As long as your pet's basic comforts are attended to, the trip should go well. For short trips, remove food at least two hours before leaving. For longer trips, remove food several hours beforehand. You may feed your pet after the trip.

Offer small amounts of water until an hour before travel. Depending on the length of the trip, water bowls may or may not be left in the carrier. Play with your pet

Most pets become adjusted to travel with frequent travel opportunities. They may feel more secure if they're confined to a sturdy and well ventilated carrier. Small dogs may learn to travel in a pet carrier. Large dogs may be confined behind special gates that section off the back of the motor vehicle.

Have your pet's general health evaluated by a veterinarian before you leave on a long trip. Ideally, this should not be left for the last minute. Vaccinations should also be updated at this time. If you are going out of the country, your veterinarian will be able to advise you regarding pet health problems prevalent at your destination.

Fear and anxiety during travel

Regardless of the mode of transportation several behavioral problems may arise because of fear. Fear may cause excitability, agitation, hyperventilation, vocalization, aggressiveness, nausea, vomiting, defecation and urination. Destruction of the interior of your car or pet carrier may indicate fear or anxiety, particularly if the pet is isolated from you.

A pet can turn it's fear or anxiety against itself and engage in excessive self grooming during the trip. Fearful responses to travel may worsen or remain relatively constant over time. Your pet may become fearful before a trip if it learns to recognize signs of departure. The stress of travel can decrease your pets resistance to disease. Intense fear can result in serious illness in an animals with undiagnosed or inappparent ailments.


Tranquilizers or sedatives intended to ease your pet's fear during transport are usually not necessary. Such drugs should probably be preserved for pets that suffer from extreme fear or anxiety during travel, and should only be used at your veterinarian's recommendation.

The type of medication and dosage must be appropriate for your pet's age, basic temperament, degree of of emotional upset during travel, duration of travel and physical status. Most drugs used for this purpose are short acting, with a peak affect lasting only several hours. For longer trips, it may not be worth while to sedate your pet, though it may help it through the first part of the trip. The risk of tranquilizing your pet must be weighed against the benefits. Some pets become more anxious when a tranquilizer begins to take effect. An unusual reaction to tranquilizers is to make a pet agitated and excitable.

It may help to do a test run by giving a dose of the medication a few days before travel so to observe its effects on your pet. If your pet's only problem during travel is now as you are vomiting medication to combat motion sickness may be all that is required.

Surface travel

Most pets travel in the family car. Problems relating to car travel may be divided into two categories. Instinctive fear or anxiety is most commonly seen in young pets that are unfamiliar with a vehicle motion. If your pet as a positive experience during a car travel, it will lose its fear. The pet can become fearful or anxious after a single stressful car ride.

Pets commonly began to fear car travel after experiencing some uncomfortable procedure at the veterinarian's office. These fears will likely fade, however, if they are routinely travel to other places. You can desensitize the pet to the car by providing favorable activities in and around the car. For example, feed the pet inside the car. Once the dog is comfortable in a parked car, turn on the motor and go for short trips around the block.

As your pet learns to tolerate this stage, extend your trips. If your pet travels in a pet carrier, begin to feed your pet in the carrier in your home, with the carrier door open, before continuing the process in your car as outlined above. Pets that enjoy car travel can also pose problems. Dogs that are allowed to move freely and jump from lap to lap may distract the driver, injure itself and other passengers, and damage the car's interior. Secure your pet in a carrier or have it restrained by another passenger. Dog should be taught desireable behavior in the car by maintaining a sitting or laying position. Do not let your dog extend it's head or lean out of the cars open window or travel unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck.

Your dog could jump out of the car or be thrown into traffic in the case of a swerve or sudden stop. Wind, dust and debris may injure your dog's eyes ears and nasal passages, causing infection, inflammation or serious injury. Keep windows slightly open and doors locked. Seat belts designed for pets are an option for dogs that do not tolerate cages. They should be gradually accustomed to these before an extended trip. Never leave your pet unattended in the car. During warm months the car's interior can heat up quickly and could kill your pet in a short time.

Air travel

Input if you are planning to fly with your pet, inquire first about the airline's policy regarding the transport of pets. Speak with your travel agent and the air carriers are representative when making your flight plants. This information could help to decide which airline best suits your needs. Avoid making reservations first and then discovering unacceptable conditions regarding your pet's travel. If your pet is to be kept in the baggage compartment, ask about the conditions there.

If you are told that the temperature and the baggage compartment will be cooler than what your pet is used to, placed an extra blankets and it's great. Polisher Pat is used to wearing a coat, this is probably not a good time to start, as overheating is as uncomfortable as feeling cold. A healthy pet can well under slight temperature fluctuations.

Asked whether anyone attends the pets in transit. On the sure traveling for longer than a day or can take your pet out during stopovers, it is probably best to keep business to a minimum. Your pet may be made more anxious by seeing you, only to watch you leave. You will be reassured if the airline employee agrees to give you reports at regular intervals. Air travel college requires animals to travel and crates are carriers. Airlines may provide a crate suitable for your pet or may require that you supply your own care. The crate should be spacious to allow your pet to stand and turn around comfortably.

It should not be overly large, however, as this could lead to injury. Some crates intend for captor small dogs are designed to slide under your airplane seat. These cracks are somewhat cramped, but many pets feel more secure in the smaller space for short periods. A crate cost allow for adequate ventilation. Labels should clearly indicate that the crate contains live animals. Betting should be soft and absorbent but not excessive.

A favorite towel or blanket may reassure your pet, particularly if it holds your body odor. Depending on the length of the your trip, he may be better off to leave the crate emptied of everything but the pet. If your pet is tranquilized, to not gleeful underwater in the crate. Obtain the crate long before traveling day. And reduce your pet to the crate by allowing it to investigate. Play with the animal, tossing toys into or near the crate.

Place its food or water-in the crate. Try to acclimate to Pat to remaining in the creek for longer periods. If you will be using a hand-held carrier or concerned that an excitable pet will disturb other passengers, it may be appropriate to get tranquilizers from your veterinarian. If the palace traveling in the passenger compartment, you have the advantage of the nearby to reassure the pet that all is well. To the tranquilizers effects begin to fade and longer trips, you will need a nearby to repeat the dose according to your veterinarian to instructions.

by William M. Fraser, D.V.M.

Brightwood Animal Hospital serves Mentor, Concord, Painesville and the surrounding communities.

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