Natural Remedies for Travelling with Pets – What is Safe and What is Not?

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When we travel with our pets, it is natural to want to make sure they are as calm with the process as possible. While some pets are seasoned travellers, others will be taking a trip for the first time. There are some wonderful natural remedies out there that can help settle worried pets, but there are also some dangerous things you really need to avoid.

The Good…

Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP)

DAP Adaptil collars release a natural soothing pheromone using the heat of your pet’s skin. This reminds them of being safe and sound with their mum and really does work well for worried puppies and adult dogs. It also works well for pets with mild separation anxiety.

Bach Flowers

While not always the perfect solution, the well-known Rescue Remedy based on Bach Flower remedy now has a pet formulation designed to soothe our worried pets. The main concern with the human versions of tinctures and Bach Flower remedies is the alcohol content, but the pet version is safe to be added to your pet’s drinking water.

Thundershirts

These can be good for travel, anxiety and noise phobias, all potential concerns for travelling pets. The Thundershirt works like a big, warm comforting hug and is a pressure-wrap coat designed to settle worried pets. Many owners with anxious pets report an immediate improvement in anxiety when a Thundershirt is used.

The Bad…

Often herbs and natural remedies are used in humans with no ill effects, however we can’t always assume that something safe for humans is okay for our pets. At least with humans, we are unlikely to lick the substance from our skin, unlike our pets, particularly cats. Dogs and cats also have incredibly sensitive noses, so a relatively benign smell can be very irritating to them. A few things that are known to be risky in pets include:

Hops – used as a sleeping aid and not safe for pets.

Valerian – a calming agent for insomnia has been reported to cause toxic signs in animals.

Alcohol-based tinctures – should definitely be avoided in pets.

Essential oils – avoid putting essential oils anywhere that pets can lick them off.

Tea tree oil – while in most cases the tea tree oil in pet shampoos is not at a toxic level (and coincidentally also not at therapeutic concentrations), it is considered a Schedule 6 toxin if consumed. It is reported to cure all sorts of skin complaints; however it is incredibly dangerous to pets who may accidentally (and are likely to) ingest it.

If you are considering a natural remedy for your pets, check with your vet the safety profile of the substance first. Pets metabolise things much differently, which is why chocolate is toxic to them, but delicious to us. If you have an interest in this area, there is an excellent book on the subject by Susan Wynn and Steve Marsden called Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine Science and Tradition.

Author Bio: Dr. Eloise is a Sydney based vet working for Love That Pet. She completed her training in Veterinary Acupuncture in 2010 and has since then been incorporating this eastern practice in with her Western medical training. Eloise has a passion for helping pets with anxiety and itchy dogs. You can chat with her on Google+ page

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