We love our dogs, but let’s be honest: traveling with them can sometimes become an ordeal. With skyrocketing gas prices and unprecedented flight cancellations, travel is already stressful enough without having to console your out-of-sorts pet. Here we have top travel tips for dog owners.
Of course, some dogs are better travelers than others. However, regardless of how well-behaved your canine is, dog travel invariably poses unique challenges.
Whether you’re planning to hit the road, hop on a Caribbean cruise, or jet-set with your pup, consider our handful of tips offered here to ensure a smoother travel experience for both yourself and your canine.
Why do dogs get anxious during travel?
Like all animals, dogs are creatures of habit. They are most comfortable in familiar environments, following normal routines. Deviations from that standard environment and routine, naturally, often stir anxiety.
In addition to its psychological pressures, travel can also impact dogs’ sensitive ears – especially air travel. Dogs are equally or perhaps more sensitive to “airplane ear” induced by altitude changes.
If you’ve found, from personal experience, traveling with your dog to be a challenge, you’re not alone. Scientists who study animal behavior have actually systematically documented dogs’ stress response to travel.
Here’s what researchers found, for instance, in one study of Beagles during both ground and air transport:
“Physiological variables clearly indicated that transportation, whether by road or air, was stressful for the dogs in this experiment.”
Help your dog keep his/her cool during travel
Here’s what you can do to console your dog and facilitate a smoother travel experience for human and non-human alike.
Choose the best travel mode to fit your dog’s needs
Not all travel modes are the same. Here are the most common modes of travel and their respective benefits and drawbacks to consider when you’ve got a dog in tow:
- Car. Some dogs love long car rides – if yours falls into that camp, and you have the option to drive instead of fly, taking a road trip might be easier on both of you. For maximum safety, don’t let your dog stick his/her head out of the window (as much as he/she might love to) and keep your dog in a crate whenever possible.
- Plane. While air travel is quicker in many cases than car travel, and often necessary if you’re crossing large bodies of water, airlines routinely require extensive documentation (and added fees) for passengers with dogs. To contain disease spread, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) enforces sometimes-harsh medical documentation requirements for dogs crossing international borders. Also, according to PETA, air travel can be more stressful for animals than car travel.
- Train. Train travel is less common these days in the US, but it’s still a viable option for dog owners in some cases. Unlike car travel, you don’t have control over the stops, so you’ll have to plan your dog’s breaks around the schedule. However, you won’t be responsible for driving, allowing you more latitude to attend to your dog’s needs. Amtrak welcomes some dogs aboard its locomotives.
- Boat. A handful of cruise lines allow dogs. Lots of dogs relish the chance to take a dip into the water and are adept swimmers. Even so, practice good safety by attaching a life vest to them and bringing your leash and crate along.
Take frequent breaks
To whatever extent possible, make time to let your dog stretch his/her legs and decompress along the way.
Obviously, depending on your mode of travel, taking breaks might not always be an option. Making pit stops along the freeway, for example, during car travel is more feasible than grounding an airplane mid-flight for a pee break. Plan accordingly.
Lodge in pet-friendly accommodations
Hotel stays are often necessary during long, multi-day journeys. While any Motel 6 might work for humans unaccompanied by dogs, many businesses have strict prohibitions on pets.
Chart out your accommodations beforehand to avoid such logistical challenges. Look for hotels, campsites, or other housing units that allow dogs, have at least some free outdoor space for your dog to frolic, and are big enough to house your dog’s crate.
Bear in mind that some lodging options, even if they allow pets, have size limitations. So if you have a larger dog, ask about weight or size limits prior to arrival.
Pack the dog-related equipment you might need
As with any activity, a little bit of pre-trip planning can go a long way. Avoid future headaches by packing everything you might need during travel. Items to bring with you might include:
- identification tags in case you get separated
- food and water (pack extra in case of emergency)
- pee pads/doggy bags (even if your dog is house-trained, the previously-mentioned disruption to their normal environment/schedule can lead to accidents)
- crate (if you’re driving, to keep your dog safe during car travel; if you’re flying, to fulfill airline requirements)
- toys and games (to keep your dog distracted and properly entertained during long hauls)
- any medications or supplements your dog takes – including, potentially, CBD
Consider a canine-friendly CBD supplement
We’ve previously written an extensive Sympleaf guide to CBD supplementation for pet owners. In addition to other potential benefits such as anti-inflammatory effects and seizure mitigation, CBD may exert anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects in dogs.
A wealth of research supports the use of CBD as a novel anti-anxiety therapeutic:
“Evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely… Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.“
Because of its favorable safety profile and growing record of clinical efficacy, research shows that US veterinarians increasingly prescribe CBD as a frontline treatment for anxiety and other conditions in dogs.CBD works similarly in both humans and non-human mammals like dogs because of the shared structure and function of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
So, thanks to shared biology, if you benefit from the relaxing effects of CBD, chances are your dog will as well.
Check out our full line of Sympleaf CBD products specially designed for pets – including drops to conveniently slip into your dog’s chow and delicious pumpkin-flavored CBD treats they’ll wolf down.
Contact Sympleaf for more lifestyle tips
Whether you are interested in more information about canine travel tips, the latest cannabis products available on our digital shelves, or the potential, science-backed health benefits of CBD for both dogs and their owners, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Contact Sympleaf and we’ll answer your inquiry ASAP.