If you have a dog or cat, chances are you have had to take them for a ride in the car at least once. Whether it was for a trip to the vet, a vacation road trip, or just running errands, driving our pets in the car is an inevitable part of life. Fortunately for some people, their pets love going for rides. For others, though, the task is not as enjoyable.
Some animals absolutely hate riding in the car. A foster dog I once had would vomit every time he took a ride in the car, whether it was for five minutes or five hours. Some dogs like my former foster experience serious anxiety during car rides, that is either caused by previous problems in their life or simply a fear of the unknown, which a ride in the car certainly is for pets.
Riding in the car involves a lot of noises, sights, and smells that are both unfamiliar and overwhelming to dogs and cats. It’s easy to forget that our pets can detect a lot of information that we can’t, but it’s important to remember in order to understand your pet and why they are acting the way they are. Before you take your pet on a car ride, consider these questions to determine if it’s the best idea.
1) Is it enjoyable?
If your pet loves riding in the car, which many do, taking them on a trip to the store or on vacation with you likely isn’t a big deal. Many dogs relish in the ability to observe all the passing people and sights and enjoy spending time with their owner, be it in their home or in the car. If your dog or cat seems to like his or her time in the car, there isn’t any need for concern. Just make sure your pet is properly secured so in case of an accident, your furry friend will be safe from being a projectile in a crash.
2) Is it a long ride?
There is a big difference between an hour long ride and a six hour long ride. Before you bring your pet with you in the car, think about the length of the trip and your pet’s needs during that period of time. Will they need to stop to use the bathroom? Will they become stressed out halfway through? A trip to the vet down the road, while stressful, isn’t even comparable to a trip to the next state to visit family. Think about the duration of the trip and whether or not your pet will experience any distress before having him or her tag along.
3) Is it necessary?
Again, driving to the vet is a whole different story than driving to a vacation spot. If your pet tends to get nervous, anxious, or carsick during rides, ask yourself whether or not it is imperative that your pet join you in the car. If you are taking your cat or dog to the vet, obviously there is no question of necessity. Vet visits are unavoidable and typically only involve a short car ride. If you simply want to bring your pet to the beach house with you because you think they will enjoy it, consider whether or not they will enjoy the car ride, too, because that is the first leg of the trip and may set the tone for the entire vacation if they are uncomfortable in the car.
If your pet isn’t happy during car rides, opt to leave them at home with a pet-sitter instead. You can see them when you get home and not only will you be glad you didn’t have to deal with a stressed out pet, your pet will be glad they didn’t have to endure a scary car ride.
Consider Your Options
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid a long car ride with a pet. If you are moving, for example, you have no choice but to bring your pet with you and a car ride is often the least traumatizing option, especially when compared to being packed with cargo in a plane, which one can only assume is a terrifying experience.
If your pet dislikes car rides but needs to be included in a long one, you might want to speak with your vet about some medication to help make them drowsy and less anxious. Pets react differently to this type of medication, so be sure you are aware of any potential allergic reactions or side effects ahead of time and have done your research before giving your pet any drugs. Sometimes, though, they can be a big help to both the owner and the pet and help to reduce any stress from the ride.
If the trip is simply a leisurely activity, review the questions and decide whether or not bringing your pet is really the best idea. Many of us love to have our pets by our side at all times, but sometimes we have to think of their perception of the experience, too. If it’s likely to be a negative one, find a great petsitter and go off by yourself. If your pet enjoys car rides, have him hop in the car and off you go! Whatever you do, be sure to take into consideration your pet’s wants and needs, too, before taking a ride in the car.