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.


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

travelling overseas with your dogLately it seems that many of us are transferring overseas to pursue work opportunities. This can throw the most organised person into turmoil as they orchestrate the seemingly infinite number of tasks involved. Many people can’t bear to think of leaving their dog behind so bring their dog with them! This week Dr James Ross has tips on travelling overseas with your dog.

1. Research & Plan Ahead
One of the jobs that should be handled early when travelling overseas with your dog is arranging pet transportation. Some preparations need to be started seven months before departure! AQIS, The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, has strict requirements for animals leaving and entering Australia. Different laws apply to each overseas destination, but most involve some time spent in confinement at their destination. It’s also important to check what breeds airlines carry. Some airlines have restrictions on certain breeds such as snub-nosed dogs like pugs so check with the carrier to make sure whether your dog is allowed to travel with them.

2. Make sure all vaccinations are up to date
There are many forms that need to be completed and returned prior to your dog’s trip such as vaccination records for boarding and relevant veterinary documentation for International shipments. As a priority, your dog’s vaccinations, flea treatments and worming should be up to date.  In many cases, correct preparation can make the difference whether a pet is penned for a few weeks or many months. For most pets, a six month quarantine is just too isolating to be considered kind.

3. Calculate costs
Costs can be significant so be prepared. Depending on the country you can expect to pay between $1000-$3000 each way for one pet!

4. Consider a pet relocation company
There are AQIS accredited vets such as Dr James,  in liaison with accredited pet transportation companies who will help you navigate the system and satisfy all medical, documentary and crating requirements.

5. Tips for your dog during travel
Dr James suggests only offering your dog water for the 12 hours before travel so that they are not further stressed by soiling themselves or becoming airsick in transit. A light treat is ok. Sedation is not recommended as animals are unable to brace themselves and may be bruised by the sides of their crate when moved, and unable to move away from spilt water etc. However there are homeopathic vet products such as Feliway, Adaptil and Homeopet which will calm and reassure the pet during the trip. Another good idea is to include your dog’s favourite toy in the crate or even a piece of your clothing which will have your scent on it. This can help relax your pup by providing them with some form of familiarity.

With the proper preparation, travelling overseas with your dog can be a fantastic experience!

Cheers for now from all of us at The Barracks Vet Surgery

Barracks Vet SurgeryAbout James:

Dr James Ross BVSc (Hons) MRCVS is the principal veterinarian at The Barracks Vet Surgery in Mosman providing a unique, high quality veterinary experience for the pets and owners of Mosman, Cremorne, Neutral Bay & the surrounding suburbs of the Lower North Shore.

Website: www.barracksvet.com.au
Email: admin@barracksvet.com.au
(02) 9969 1100
2A Best Avenue MOSMAN NSW 2088