Like many pet parents, I love having my fur family with me when I go places, whether it’s short car rides running errands, or on longer road trips. But for some pets, just getting in a car sends them into an anxious spiral.
Thankfully, my dogs Chilly and Tulip don’t have any specific fears regarding traveling. But they do have other anxieties. Tulip suffers from separation anxiety and Chilly has been diagnosed with noise aversion.
Since they have anxious tendencies, I like to be prepared with the right tools and products to ward off any anxiety surrounding car rides.
Plus, it seems like every dog and cat instinctively knows when they’re going to the vet, which always causes anxiety!
Why It’s Important to Take Your Dog or Cat’s Travel Anxiety Seriously
Have you ever been fearful, anxious, or stressed out? Many of us can relate to the heart-pounding, mind-racing effects of anxiety. Well, just as humans can suffer from anxiety, so can our pets. In fact, some pets experience the equivalent of a panic attack.
Now imagine feeling that way on every car ride. Then, add in all the stimulation from the constant movement, unpredictable road noise, and flashes of light. These stressful conditions can result in odd behavioral changes due to extreme anxiety in our fur friends.
Sadly, some pet parents don’t recognize the behavior as being rooted in anxiety, so they scold or discipline their pet. And at its worst, some may surrender their dog or cat to a shelter because they can’t manage the behavior and don’t know it’s rooted in fear.
That’s why it’s so important to know how to recognize the signs of anxiety in our fur friends. And it’s also important to understand that the signs are different in cats and dogs.
Anxiety Signs in Dogs
Symptoms of anxiety in dogs are varied and may include behaviors you haven’t thought of. Some symptoms may include:
- Barking or howling
- Chewing/destroying things
- Excessive licking
- Trying to escape
Signs of travel anxiety may manifest differently. Some dogs feel anxious about getting in the car because they get car sick.
If you’ve ever had motion sickness, then you know how miserable it truly is. We wouldn’t want to endure that awful feeling, so of course, our dogs shouldn’t have to either. Vomiting on car rides can be painful and anxiety-inducing for your dog (and for you).
Here are other signs that your dog may be car sick:
- Dry heaving
- Excessive lip licking
- Excessive panting
- Bracing stance
You’ll notice many of the signs of motion sickness and anxiety overlap. So it’s important to visit your veterinarian to determine the true cause of your dog’s abnormal behavior while in the car.
A few years ago, I noticed some of these signs in my dog, Chilly. After consulting with our veterinarian, he prescribed a medication that doesn’t make your pup drowsy or loopy. To learn more, check out my blog post here.
Cat Anxiety Signs
Unfortunately, cat anxiety is much less likely to be diagnosed or recognized than anxiety in dogs. Our furry feline friends tend to be more mysterious in everything they do. So it’s especially important to be on the lookout for the subtle signs of cat anxiety.
Symptoms frequently include:
- Not eating
- Social withdrawal
- Dilated pupils
- Twitching tails or ears
- Failure to use the litter box
- Hair loss from excessive grooming
- Increased vocalization
- Becoming less active
Have you noticed any of these signs of anxiety in your kitty? With a keen eye and a little planning, you can be alert to the signs of anxiety in your cat and take the best steps to keep her calm and cozy while she’s in the car.
How ThunderShirt Can Help Your Anxious Dog or Cat on Car Rides
ThunderShirt is a must-have in the Levine household! It’s veterinarian recommended and proven to be over 80% effective in calming pets during anxiety-inducing events, such as travel and car rides to the vet. ThunderShirt has helped millions of dogs and cats (pet parents) regain peace and calm. I personally use it to keep my dogs, Chilly and Tulip, calm on short car rides, especially when we go to the vet.
Just like swaddling an infant, ThunderShirt is designed to apply gentle, constant pressure to your dog or cat’s torso.
Researchers suggest that this type of pressure can release calming hormones like oxytocin or endorphins in both humans and animals. Think about how you feel when you get a warm hug from a loved one! This gentle pressure is helpful for calming all types of anxiety and fear.
Note: ThunderShirt works great for cases of mild to moderate anxiety. But if your pet is showing signs of severe anxiety please consult your veterinarian as they may require prescription medication.
Other Helpful Therapies to Ease Your Dog or Cat’s Travel Anxiety
ThunderWunders is another effective natural solution that can ease your cat or dog’s anxiety. These calming chews are vet and trainer recommended, with options for both cats and dogs.
Plus, their cat chews have even been feline taste-test approved. So even if your cat is a picky eater, she’s likely to enjoy the flavor. ThunderWunders chews are a great solution for car rides, trips to the vet, or meeting new pets and new people.
I’m also a big fan of ThunderEase Calming Collar for Dogs. This unique collar is drug-free, easy to use, and over 90% effective. It works by releasing natural pheromones that mimic the pheromones a nursing mother releases for her pups, leaving them feeling calm and protected.
The calming collar is activated by your dog’s own body heat and helps him feel safe and serene just like when he was a nursing puppy.
I’ve used the calming collar on my dogs, and it works wonders at helping them adjust to challenging situations and curbing unwanted stress-related behaviors.
ThunderEase Cat Calming Pheromone Spray is great for when you’re on the go! You can spray the calming pheromones directly onto objects such as your car, your kitty’s carrier, or her favorite blanket. The spray will mimic her mother’s natural nursing pheromones, putting her at ease and reducing unwanted behaviors. Car rides and visits to the vet will be much calmer.
Each kit is vet recommended and clinically tested to be effective for 90% of dogs and cats, respectively.
Simply plug into an outlet in the room where your dog or cat spends most of their time. The diffuser releases a drug-free, odorless vapor that can cover up to 700 square feet and last up to 30 days. As your dog or cat is reminded of their mother’s love, their stress will fade away. And so will some of the troubling behavior issues that are common in anxious dogs and cats. I use the diffuser in my house to help my cat, Olivia, when she’s feeling stressed or skittish.
Can Your Pet’s Travel Anxiety Be Cured?
The short answer is maybe. Most of the time, with the right therapies, a dog or cat’s anxiety can be greatly improved so that it’s almost imperceptible. But it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s anxious behavior because there may be medical reasons that need to be addressed. And some cases of strong anxiety warrant prescription medication.
But with expert help, a variety of calming solutions, and unconditional love from their pet parents, our fur families can have less stress and live happy, healthy lives.