With the holiday season bearing down like a runaway sleigh, it’s important to consider how to help our dogs cope with the added excitement and change of routine that the holidays bring.
Pet parents know that dogs (and many humans!) are creatures of habit; below in The Caring Vet Column, Dr. Jeff Werber addresses the issues of holiday pet travel and helping dogs remain calm when holiday visitors come calling.
Schedule a Pre-Travel Vet Visit
Anytime you travel, whether by car, plane, train, or blimp, it is important to have your veterinarian check out your dog to make sure s/he is totally healthy.
You might be traveling to a different climate, you might need to administer travel sickness or anxiety medications, and you want to have a snapshot in time of your pet’s health which will help in the event your pet comes down with any problems during your vacation.
If you are traveling by air, most airlines require a health certificate to make sure your dog is okay to travel, which necessitates a visit to your veterinarian.
Manage Car Sickness
Most often it’s not motion sickness that affects dogs, but rather anxiety and excitement which can agitate them and cause vomiting.
Some dogs do suffer from motion sickness, in which case OTC meclizine, found in Bonine, or dimenhydrinate, found in Dramamine are effective.
For anxiety, you can try diphenhydramine, which is available over the counter. The dosage is 1 milligram per 1 pound of body weight. There are also herbal calming products available, (ProSense Calming Tabs) which utilize natural botanicals such as passionflower, valerian, and chamomile to take the edge off.
If your dog needs something stronger, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medication such as Atarax, Xanax, or Acepromazine.
Traveling with Your Dog
When traveling with your dog in a car, be sure s/he is either in a carrier or secured via a harness that attaches to a seat belt.
Make frequent stops to allow your dog to relieve him/herself and to stretch.
Take a supply of water with you, which your dog can drink along the way, and refill it at each stop with local water. This will help to gradually acclimate your dog to the differences in the water supply and help prevent any gastric reactions.
Be sure to bring along your pet’s security ID tags, any medications s/he is on, a picture and a copy of important vaccine and health records, in case you need to see a veterinarian.
Preparing for Holiday Visitors
If your dog is agitated by a stream of visitors, you might want to keep him or her in a closed room, at least until all the guests have arrived and the doorbell has stopped ringing.
You don’t want to have to leave your guests to chase your dog down the block! I would also consider using a calming formula, and if necessary the anti anxiety medications referenced above.
Ask your guests not to feed the dog(s) any table scraps and to be friendly but not exuberant, which can be contagious, and turn them into true Party Animals!
-Dr. Jeff Werber, Pro-Sense Premium Pet Products
This post was first published in 2012.