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How to calm a dog with car anxiety

May 22, 2024May 22, 2024


Dogs sure do love car rides! That’s just common knowledge, right? Well, if your pooch doesn’t fit the car-loving cliche, you’re not alone. While many dogs do go crazy for road trips, many others feel stressed, anxious, or even unwell in the car, especially if they are new to car travel.

“We definitely have a lot of people looking for supplements to help their pets manage travel stress,” says Miranda Carney, Growth Marketing Manager of Pet Releaf, an award-winning manufacturer and distributor of CBD supplements. “Travel can definitely be a stressor for pets. When a pet is stressed, even for a few hours, their overall health is affected, so being able to manage your pet not only at the beginning of the trip but throughout your entire road trip is very important.”

Fortunately, there are definitive strategies pet parents can follow to help mitigate stress, unease, and discomfort and make car rides more pleasant for their furkids.

Dogs may feel stressed in the car for a variety of reasons. They may be very young and inexperienced, or new to car travel. They may associate the car with unpleasant memories. They may feel uneasy in a confined space, or uncomfortable out of their usual routine. They may dislike the unaccustomed noises, or the sense of movement. Or they may experience motion sickness. Motion sickness can be caused by anxiety, but the reverse can also be true: stress and anxiety can be caused by feelings of motion sickness, and then in turn, anxiety can make motion sickness worse.

Dogs exhibit stress differently from people, and pet parents may not recognize all the signs. Dogs may fidget, salivate, pant, tremble, or move back and forth looking for an escape. While typically a sign of relaxation or sleepiness in humans, repeated yawning can be a sign of stress for dogs. Dogs may also whine, cry, or yelp, and they may even vomit, urinate, or defecate.

There are steps you can take to alleviate travel stress in your pet long before your car ride ever takes place. First, check in with your vet. Signs of anxiety are similar to signs of motion sickness. A quick evaluation by your vet can help you sort out the symptoms. If your pet is suffering from motion sickness, your vet may prescribe an anti-nausea medication that will ease his symptoms. If his anxiety was related to his motion sickness, the problem should resolve.

If your pup’s problem is psychological, a behavioral approach can work well. Like humans, dogs can be slowly conditioned to let go of their fears. Start by finding a comfortable carrier, car seat, or pet seat belt combination for your pet. Introduce him to the new gear, then, show him how it works, then slowly get him used to using/wearing it. You can acclimate him to the car in much the same way: first show him the car, then have him explore it while it’s not running, then have him sit in it for a few minutes each day. Slowly work your way up to sitting in a running car, then driving slowly around the block. In addition, try acclimating him to sounds he may hear on the road, such as motorcycle engines or honking cars.

You can also help your pet make positive associations with riding in the car. Have a special toy or treat that only appears in the car. Add one of his blankets, a clothing item that smells like you, or toys or stuffies he’s familiar with to the car so that he feels more at home. When he’s ready, take him somewhere fun, like a dog park, a pet store, or a dog bakery, so that he knows cars sometimes go to happy places.

On the day of your car trip, ensure that your pet gets plenty of exercise so that he’ll be tired and relaxed for the trip. Avoid feeding him a large meal, as this may unsettle his stomach, making vomiting more likely.

To minimize stress during a car ride, first check to make sure your dog is comfortable. He should have a good range of motion and a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Cars don’t heat or cool evenly, so make sure the temperature where he’s sitting is comfortable for him. Speak to him in a cheerful, calm, steady voice, Give him a familiar blanket or stuffy to cuddle, and/or bring along familiar human companions who can cuddle him from time to time. Some dogs respond very well to music, so creating a playlist of soothing songs to play in the car may help your pooch stay calm and associate car rides with something positive.

Many pet parents have had success managing their dog’s car anxiety with CBD supplements. They’re safe, effective, and they don’t cause drowsiness, so your pooch can still enjoy the ride. They can be used on dogs of all ages, so you can give your pooch supplements as needed without worry.

We like Pet Releaf supplements for a variety of reasons. They’re certified organic, third-party tested, and made with high-quality ingredients. They also feature a variety of options, including chewables portioned according to pet size and high-potency oils that offer precision dosing.

CBD supplements can be used the day of your travel, but they work even better if you begin giving them to your pet daily two weeks before the trip, making them a versatile option that’s both proactive and reactive.

In the end, you may not be able to change a travel-averse dog into a road trip hound, but with a little planning, some work, and some encouragement, you can make car trips much more enjoyable, for you and your nervous traveler.

TripsWithPets is a leader in the pet travel industry – providing online reservations at pet-friendly hotels across the United States and Canada.

With a vast inventory of pet-friendly accommodations, TripsWithPets provides pet travelers with a wide variety of pet-friendly options.

Pet parents go to for all they need to find and book the perfect place to stay with their pets – including detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities.

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Originally published on, part of the BLOX Digital Content Exchange.

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