The biggest worry Brandon and I had before taking our road trip to West Virginia was traveling with our dogs. I’ve shared tips to help you travel with dogs in the past and most of the time they work great. The problem we have is our chiweenie, Wilkins. We adopted him from a rescue after he was abused in a previous home and he suffers major anxiety.
I’ve consulted a dog behaviorist and tried training. We’ve worked on resolving separation anxiety, fear of storms, and other anxiety issues. We’ve truly done our best to help the little guy and he’s improved a lot but he still has meltdowns when he’s in the car. It isn’t the traveling that bothers him, it’s being away from us. It doesn’t matter that he’s only in the backseat, the fact that he is separated from us leads to total meltdown mode. He cries and whines the entire trip which is annoying beyond belief. Neither Brandon nor I wanted to lose our patience with our dog during the drive so we consulted with our veterinarian before leaving.
She prescribed our dog Xanax.
Due to his small size we were advised to give him half of a tablet as a trial. We gave it to him the night before we left so that we could watch him and see how he would respond to the medication. Our veterinarian had said it didn’t have to be given with food and to keep him calm after taking it. I took him out on a walk and gave him the Xanax (hidden in a little bit of peanut butter) when we came back in. I put a blanket down on the sofa for him and let him jump up next to me. I expected he would be a little drowsy and eventually go to sleep.
It didn’t phase him.
It did not affect him at all. Brandon even asked me, a few times, if I was sure I gave it to him. I was sure but he acted like I hadn’t given him anything. He was bright-eyed and playful. He kept bringing me his little green frog (which he’s obsessed with, thanks to PupJoy) for me to throw. He was wide awake and just as anxious as ever.
As requested, I called our vet the next morning to give her an update on how he had responded to the Xanax. I told her it hadn’t affected him and was left with a choice…
- Try 1/2 tablet again
- Increase to 3/4 tablet (the max for his weight)
- Switch to another medication
She said if we switched to another medication it would knock him out. I can’t recall the name of it but it was a sedative that would make him sleep for 12 – 24 hours depending on how he responded to it. That felt a bit extreme to us. Since we couldn’t test it while we were still local and close to our vet we opted not to try it. Instead, we chose to increase to 3/4 tablet and see if it helped him. It didn’t.
He was an anxious mess the whole trip (10 hours!). We stopped every couple of hours to take him out for a walk and give him attention. We put comforts from home (blanket, toy, etc) in the backseat for him so the smells were familiar. We tried to keep him calm but he was stressed. I felt terrible.
When we left to come home we opted instead to leave very late (about 11pm) with the hope that we would be so tired from running around on the farm all weekend that he’d sleep. It worked! He burrowed under his blanket and fell asleep. I don’t think he woke up until we were an hour outside of Atlanta. 🙂
I’m not sure if I would try to give my dog Xanax again or not. I mean, it didn’t work so why bother, right? I think I’ll just try to take him to the dog park and let him wear himself out before loading him up for a long drive. My vet did confirm it’s safe to give a dog Xanax but consult with a veterinarian first because an overdose could be fatal. Otherwise, just exhaust him first and give him a blanket from home.