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Bentley & Friends: managing stress while traveling with your pets

Are you thinking of traveling with your pet anytime soon? A veterinarian shared some advice for you.

NORFOLK, Va. — Fall means cooler temperatures – and road trips with the family.

Travel has been limited for the past few months because of the coronavirus, but with a downward trend in some states, some people feel comfortable enough to explore again, and to bring their pets along with them.

While that sounds like a great idea, traveling with your pet can be tough. How can you calm them down and decrease their stress levels?

Dr. Denette Cooke, a veterinarian from Chesapeake, explains.

"The biggest thing to take into consideration for traveling with pets is their overall comfort, and then your comfort," Cooke said. "If you are really stressed out and flustered, they are going to feel that.”

Many vets will prescribe sedatives, medicine that can really help, but must be used sparingly. 

"If you start out on your trip and you give them a sedative, make sure to talk to your veterinarian about what is appropriate. Then you'll give a sedative an hour before you travel,” she said.

Driving is generally less stressful for pets than flying. The biggest concern with traveling by plane is altitude, and not knowing how your pet could react to the sedative while being above-ground. 

If flying is necessary, or even a long road trip, Cooke suggests limiting their risk of vomiting.

"Give them some sedatives that first day, an hour before you travel," she said. "Maybe don’t feed them breakfast that morning, but offer water throughout. We want them to be on a little bit of an empty stomach, in case they do have an upset stomach.”

Overall, Cooke said to pay attention to your pet's mannerisms when they're outside of their element.

"You know, Mommy and Daddy's intuition is going to kick in," Cooke explained. "If your pet is super stressed, medicate. If not so much, then there’s no need for medication.”