Some animals get nauseous, vomit, or salivate excessively when riding in a vehicle. This problem is more common with dogs than cats, but that’s because we tend to take dogs with us more. Healthy dogs who have been acclimated to car rides since puppyhood don’t usually get motion sickness, but if you’ve adopted a pet who gets nauseous in the car, there are a few things you can do to help.
First, it helps to not feed your pet before a drive, and only give small amounts of water. The short fast won’t hurt them. See Fasting. Second, if the drive is planned, you may want to supplement your pet’s diet with extra vitamins C and B-complex starting about a week prior. Third, give ginger for nausea. This helps with carsick people, too. Quantities of effectiveness vary from animal to animal. In people, it can take up to eight capsules to feel relief. The amount needed for your pet will probably be discovered through trial and error. If you’re good at giving your pet capsules, that’s great. Otherwise, you can add very finely minced fresh ginger or ginger powder to your pet’s food.
Another herbal used for nauseous pets is peppermint tea, but cats don’t usually like this. And some holistic practitioners advocate Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy.
Any of the calming herbals, also called nervines, may be useful if your pet gets scared and upset about traveling. These include:
- Oat grass or common oat tincture
Also, the homeopathic Aconitum napellus 30c is good for calming fear and anxiety before travel. Give one tablet an hour before travel, another tablet immediately before travel, and then one tablet during the trip, if necessary.
Vacationing with Pets
If your pet isn’t used to riding in the car, and you are going on a road trip, you may want to invest in a large crate. Some cats do okay in the car, but most are better in a crate. If you use a dog-sized crate for your cat, you have room to comfortably fit a small litter pan inside. A good tip is to line the bottom with disposable diapers in case your cat has an accident, which many do. If the litter pan you have doesn’t fit in the crate, you can improvise and use a flat container, a meat packaging tray, or any other suitably sized pan.
If your pet is subject to anxiety or nausea, see the sections, above, on motion sickness and travel anxiety.
On long road trips, make sure to stop now and then to take your dog for a walk. Besides letting the animal defecate, it’s also good for nerves, it gives your pet exercise, and you’ll get to enjoy some new sights, too.
This probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Always leave a window cracked if you have to leave your pet in the car. On a hot day, animals can die or get brain damage from overheating. A closed-windowed vehicle acts like a solar oven; combined with your pet’s furry coat, this is a recipe for heat stroke.
If your dog likes to hang its head out the window when riding in the car, the wind may be an irritant. There’s also the possibility that a foreign particle could get lodged in the dog’s eye. If the eyes get mildly irritated while you are on the road, stop at a pharmacy and get some plain saline eyewash. You may want a couple of bottles because you will use it to flush the eye. If you have salt and pure water, you can make your own using one cup of water to ¼ teaspoon salt. Be very careful, though, of lodged particles. If you think something might be stuck in the eye, find an emergency veterinary clinic.
Pets can and do get lost when traveling with their owners, so make sure your pet is wearing a waterproof ID tag with your current cell phone number on it. You should also look into micro-chipping.
If your pet gets lost:
- Visit all animal shelters in the area
- Contact government animal control agencies
- Contact the police
- Contact animal rescue agencies
- Place ads in local papers and online classifieds
- Offer a reward
- Put up fliers in many locations including
- Local businesses
- Pet businesses, groomers, veterinary clinics
- Dog parks
- Street corner telephone poles
- Knock on doors and talk to people
- Contact dog walkers and ask them to keep an eye out
Unfortunately, you also will want to contact the highway departments and shelters and have them check their dead lists.
Keep repeating your efforts. Pets have been found years after being lost.
If you must take your pet with you on a plane, and the animal is small enough, carry it with you on the plane in an airline-approved carrier. You want to avoid stowing your pet as cargo if at all possible because of the air pressure and temperature variances in the cargo hold. In fact, if you feel you have to fly your pet somewhere, and the crate is too large to be carried with you on the plane, we recommend you fly your pet separately on an airline that caters to pets, such as Pet Airways. Use the methods described in Travel Anxiety, above, to decrease your pet’s stress.
If your dog or cat is very old or ill, avoid stressful travel if at all possible.
Kennels and Pet Sitters
There will probably be times in your life when you want to go on vacation without your pet, or you must go away for other reasons. If you decide to kennel your pet, do a thorough inspection of the kennel before committing to a decision. Each animal should have a space of their own and access to some quiet time; the kennel should be clean and responsibly run; and there should be an area for fresh air and outdoor activities with personnel required to exercise your pet and give them scheduled attention and outdoor time.
Most kennels do not have these resources. What’s worse, they usually require an arsenal of vaccinations which are bad for your pet. So, we recommend finding a reliable insured and bonded pet sitter. The cost is usually less or comparable to boarding. With a pet sitter, you have more assurance that your animal will be getting exercise and attention, and the pet’s trauma is lessened because they are still in the familiar confines of their home. They also get to eat the nutritious food that you instruct the pet sitter to give them. If you go this route, have the pet sitter meet your animals and become familiar with their routine before you go on your trip.
When you leave, don’t make a big deal of saying an emotional goodbye to your pet. Your dog or cat doesn’t understand what you’re saying, but will pick up on your anxiety. This only adds stress and fear for your pet. Leave with happy, calm thoughts and minimal commotion.
Relocation from one residence to another is one of the most common times that pets get lost. Doors will be left open and people will be going in and out, so confine your pet to a quiet room stocked with familiar toys and bedding. For cats, see to it that there is a clean litter box in the room. You could also leave a dog in the backyard, if that area is secured. Read the above sections on motion sickness, travel anxiety, road, and air travel, if applicable.