Traveling with a pet is usually not ideal for you or your pet, but in some situations, you may not have a choice. Trying to travel in a car with an anxious or nervous pet, on the other hand, can make things even more complicated and potentially dangerous for both parties. Fortunately, by following a few simple pet car safety tips for anxious animals, you can help your pet relax and get from point A to point B as safely as possible.
Try Training Your Pet Before the Trip
If you have some time to prepare for an upcoming car trip, take some steps to prepare your pet and get them more used to traveling in a vehicle. A good way to do this is to create positive associations with being in the car. You can do this by placing your pet in the car and simply sitting in the driver's seat with your car running in the driveway. Give your pet positive reinforcement by giving him or her treats, or by praising them verbally.
Eventually, you may even work your way up to taking short drives around the neighborhood with your pet secured in your car. This can be a great way to work them up to a longer trip and ease their anxiety over being in a moving vehicle.
Some Pets Prefer a Covered Crate
Unfortunately, not all pets can be trained to enjoy or even tolerate car rides. If this seems to be the case for your pet, one of the best and safest decisions you can make is to crate your pet during the trip. This will prevent them from putting you in danger by distracting you or moving around too much in the car.
Many pets with anxiety over car rides will actually prefer to be enclosed in a crate, and some of them will do much better if a blanket is draped over their crate while the vehicle is in motion. This prevents them from seeing movement out the car windows, which can otherwise cause even further anxiety. Bring a blanket along with your pet and see what they prefer. Some pets will prefer a blanket over most of the crate but will still like to be able to see you in the driver's seat, so consider leaving the front portion uncovered.
Crack the Windows for Fresh Air, But Beware
If you have been able to successfully train a dog to tolerate a car ride without crating them, cracking windows open to allow for air circulation can also help to relieve anxiety in some dogs. Just be sure that you are only cracking the window open a few inches and not far enough to let them stick their heads out of the windows. Unfortunately, if the window is open too far and your dog becomes startled or scared, there is a risk that he or she may try to escape and injure themselves in the process.
See a Veterinarian as a Last Resort
There are all kinds of natural remedies that can help your pet feel safer and less anxious on a long car ride, so consider trying these; they can typically be found at your local pet stores and are a great alternative to prescription drugs. However, if natural remedies don't seem to help your pet, you might also consider scheduling an appointment with your vet to see about getting an anti-anxiety medication for your pet's upcoming trip.
Traveling with an anxious pet can be a challenge, but by taking the right precautions, you can keep you and your pet safe while relieving their anxiety in the process.