Setting out on a road trip with your pet? A pet road trip checklist, along with a few tips for keeping your furry family members calm, can help create a smooth and happy journey.
Pet road trip checklist
Pet clean up:
___ Waterless bathing solution for your dog so you can clean and freshen fur without needing a tub, hose, or rinse.
___ Baggies for cleaning up after your dog.
___ Portable litter tray and cat litter for cats.
Pet first-aid and hydration:
___ Lots of water. Ihor Basko, DVM, writes, “The average dog needs about 1 cup of water per 20 lb. of body weight per day. The average cat should drink about ½ cup of water per 6 lb. of body weight daily.” He adds that twice that much water is needed during hot weather and if your pet eats dry food.
___ Glucosamine for dogs with hip or joint flare-ups. Travel can trigger osteoarthritis pain in dogs that are prone to it. Glucosamine treats and supplements designed for dogs help prevent pain before it starts. Try: Rainbow Light Green Dog Naturals Healthy Motion Chewables.
___ Probiotics. Humans aren’t the only animals prone to tummy trouble when traveling. A good probiotic not only helps restore intestinal well-being, but also can help prevent trouble, by keeping the intestinal immune system strong via a protective army of friendly flora. Pet formulas with herbs such as ginger, parsley, an slippery elm can alleviate gas. Try: Vet’s Best Gas Busters
Standard human first-aid kit. These kits are important for any road trip, and some of the items included, such as bandage wraps, are needed for pets as well.
___ Carrier or seatbelt harness. It’s critical to keep our animal family members secure while driving. According to TakePart.com, “At 35 mph, a 60-pound dog becomes a 2,700-pound projectile.” Cats and small dogs should be in a hard-sided, well-ventilated carrier in which they can turn around, lie down, and stand up. Large dogs can be protected by special harnesses linked to seat belts.
___ ID tags. Attach a permanent and temporary ID to your pet’s collar. Include your name, address, and phone number, plus an address and number where you can be reached on your trip.
Natural aids to help your dog stay calm in new surroundings:
___ Bach Rescue Remedy Pet. These homeopathic drops are safe, and used by holistic vets all over the world to reduce stress in pets. Use four drops in mouth, water dish, or food, as needed.
___ Valerian and ginger. Valerian is an herb that eases stress and tension. When combined with the stomach aid ginger, it makes an ideal formula to help prevent canine anxiety associated with motion and noise.
___ Lavender aromatherapy. TV canine behaviorist Cesar Milan recommends using lavender essential oil for an “association by scent technique” for dogs. On several occasions before your trip, put a drop of lavender oil on your hands for your dog to associate with pleasant experiences like feeding and walks. You can then allow your dog to smell the scent again, whenever you want, to invoke a pleasant association that will calm him down. Note: Avoid using essential oils around kitties. These concentrated oils may be toxic—even through breathing—for cats.
Traveling with a cat
Unless your cat was conditioned to car travel before the age of six months, she will likely find it stressful. Cats can also be prone to motion sickness. For some cats, staying at home with a good pet sitter may be the best option. For other cats, Bach Rescue Remedy Pet drops may help increase a sense of calm and control. Scent placement and positive conditioning can also make a significant difference.
Scent placement. Before you’ve even brought your cat to the car, put her blanket, bed, or a towel you’ve rubbed her with inside the car. The scent helps her feel that this space is her own, which makes her feel safer.
Pre-trip positive conditioning. Start your conditioning techniques several weeks ahead of your trip. Positive car conditioning techniques include feeding special treats in the car and taking short, easy trips that are immediately followed with a tasty reward.
Liz Eastwood, BSc, CNC, is a writer and holistic nutritionist. She publishes NaturalCatCareBlog.com and is the author of Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers: Coping Wisdom for Heart and Soul After the Loss of a Beloved Feline.