by Paulette Sharen
Dogs are our friends, family members and loving companions. As pet parents, it's no wonder why we want to include them in our active lives and travel plans. It could be a car trip across town or a cross-country road trip with one or more dogs. What's most important is that both humans and dogs enjoy the trip in peaceful harmony.
How to Travel with a Dog: the Basics
Before undertaking any road trip with your pet, be sure to get an “all-clear” from a veterinarian — in particular, a doctor who routinely sees your dog for check-ups or a veterinary center where his or her medical records are available. This initial step not only provides peace of mind for pet owners, but it will also rule out any urgent or recurring medical conditions that would prohibit travel at the last minute.
Just as people are sensitive to new foods and sources of water, so is your dog. For this reason, nothing says true security to a dog like their standard wet food, kibble and food dishes. Because tap water often differs greatly between municipalities, it's also an excellent idea to give your dog bottled water or carry a portable water purifier with you at all times.
Safety and Comfort in Your Car
Canine passengers should be restrained in your vehicle for their own safety (and yours!) while in motion. Secure your dog in an approved pet carrier, or have them secured with a pet harness in the back seat (the best option may depend on their size and activity level).
Prior to any road trip, let your dog experience a series of shorter car trips so that he is comfortable with the necessary carrier or harness arrangements.
Much as you would do for a child, gather a few of your dog's favorite toys. This includes a cushioned bed for resting as well as towels or clothing items that carry a familiar scent. Comfort is always key, no matter whether you're with a confident adult dog, a nervous senior pet or traveling with a puppy in a car. These techniques work for dogs of all ages because while their surroundings may change, their accurate sense of smell gives them a definite sense of home.
Travel Anxiety When on the Road & Away from Home
It’s not unusual for dogs to exhibit an increased sense of anxiety during car trips. Remember that the sensations associated with a vehicle in motion, along with the sounds and smells of road travel, are confusing to many dogs. (Your dog's acute senses will also pick up on changes in weather such as rain and thunderstorms, which can cause them to double down on the anxiety.) Although they may only be separated from their owner by the space between car seats, symptoms similar to separation anxiety can take place in an instant.
Conventional methods to cope with canine travel anxiety have relied on pharmaceutical products, which can result in unpleasant or unhealthful side effects for your dog. This is why dog lovers look to natural and alternative remedies whenever possible. Many of these natural remedies increasingly contain CBD, either in the form of an oil or contained within CBD chews.
How Can CBD Help?
CBD oil and CBD-infused products work by producing a sense of calm within the nervous system. Your dog’s body (and yours) contain a series of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system. This system helps regulate basic functions like appetite, pain responses and mood. Studies have shown that when CBD interacts with an animal's endocannabinoid system, it may help decrease the intensity of symptoms commonly associated with anxiety. While there is no current research involving canine anxiety specifically, the results are both rodent and human studies are incredibly promising.
Another advantage of CBD oil-infused tinctures and chews for dogs is how easy they are to administer. Most dogs will enjoy a dropper of CBD-infused oil on their tongue without complaint. Even better, CBD chews can be offered with a meal, at snack time or as a reward for good behavior. This is a routine you can begin with your dog at home prior to taking a long car trip or other potentially stressful situations.
Many in the dog training community believe that CBD can be particularly helpful for dogs coping with nervousness from traveling or other environmentally-induced stress. Try giving your dog CBD before potentially stressful situations, like that fretful trip in the car or when a predicted thunderstorm is on the horizon.
As with any new food or change in routine, it's important to consult a veterinarian before giving your dog any CBD products. Talk to your vet a few weeks before the big trip, so you can try introducing a CBD tincture or chew to your pet's diet gradually and monitor their response. In this fashion, both you and your dog may be assured to have fun and relaxing travel experiences in the future.
A professional journalist, Paulette Sharen writes for online and traditional publications about a wide variety of topics. She specializes in targeted articles on travel, pets, career issues, food and holistic lifestyles, as well as pop culture and politics.