I tried to give my dog Xanax for travel anxiety before we took our last road trip and it didn’t work at all. Sometimes my small dog is a great road tripper but other times he is an anxious traveler and I wanted him to be relaxed on the trip. This was going to be the longest trip (yet) that he’s taken with us and I was nervous about keeping him in the car for so long knowing he is prone to travel anxiety and nerves. 

Since I was feeling concerned about his ability to travel with us, I consulted with our vet about his travel anxiety. She prescribed a dosage appropriate for his small size (15lbs). Unfortunately, it didn’t help his travel anxiety at all; he was the same little anxious bundle of nerves.

Learn what happened when I gave my small dog xanax for travel anxiety before a road trip. Story via @honeyandpineco #travelwithdogs #roadtrip #traveltips

Other than trying CBD, I’d never medicated my dog for nervousness

Other than trying CBD, I’d never medicated my dog for nervousness (travel anxiety or otherwise) but we’d also never taken a 12+ hour road trip with the dogs.

In the past, I’ve shared tips to help you travel with dogs and for short trips they work great. My husband and I were both concerned about the length of the trip and thought Xanax would help him stay calm and relaxed but it didn’t. 

We adopted our cheagle, Wilkins, from a rescue after he was abused in a previous home. I’ve consulted a dog behaviorist and tried training techniques to work on resolving his 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 occasional meltdowns when he’s in the car. It doesn’t really seem to be the traveling that bothers him, it’s being away from us. It doesn’t matter that he’s only in the backseat. It’s just the mere fact that he is separated from us that leads to total meltdown mode. Neither Brandon nor I wanted to lose our patience with our dog during the drive so we consulted with our veterinarian before leaving who told me to give my dog xanax and he should calm down.

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Learn what happened when I gave my small dog xanax for travel anxiety before a road trip. Story via @honeyandpineco #travelwithdogs #roadtrip #traveltips

Due to his small size, I was worried about giving my dog Xanax

Due to his small size (he’s about 15 lbs) we were advised by our vet to give him half of a tablet as a trial before leaving on the road trip. I decided to give my dog Xanax the night before we left so we could watch him and see how he responded to the medication. Our veterinarian said it did not have to be given with food and to keep him calm after taking it. I took him 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 to snuggle while my husband and I watched a movie. I expected to see him get a little drowsy and eventually drift off to sleep as the Xanax kicked in – it didn’t phase him in the slightest.

My husband repeatedly asked me if I was sure I gave it to him because he was acting like I hadn’t given him a thing but peanut butter. 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 just as wide awake, energetic, and anxious as ever. 

The following morning I called our vet 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
Learn what happened when I gave my small dog xanax for travel anxiety before a road trip. Story via @honeyandpineco #travelwithdogs #roadtrip #traveltips

The alternatives…

She said if we switched to another medication it would knock him out and make him sleep for 12 – 24 hours depending on how intensely he responded to it. I had decided to give my dog Xanax for travel anxiety because it felt like a mild solution to what had the potential to be a big issue but knocking him out for up to 24 hours felt too extreme. We couldn’t test it while we were still local and close to our vet we opted not to try it at all.

In the past, we’ve also tried CBD Treatibles to help him calm down and relax. They worked great while we were at home but I hadn’t replenished our supply and couldn’t find them in any local stores.

Instead, we chose to increase his Xanax dosage to 3/4 tablet and see if it helped him. That night before we started our road trip I snuggled both pups and snuck it into a piece of cheese so I could give my dog Xanax without him knowing I was slipping him medication.

He remained an anxious mess for the whole trip (12+ hours!). We stopped every couple of hours to take him out for a walk and give him attention. We put a few of his favorite comforts from home (blanket, toy, etc) in the backseat for him so the smells were familiar and tried to keep him as calm as possible but he stayed stressed. I felt terrible. 

When we left to come home we opted 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 home. 🙂  I suppose that’s the travel trick for next time; I’ll just wear his little butt out at the dog park or something so he’s exhausted first. We’re also working on taking much smaller trips multiple times a week so he’s more familiar with the car and less anxious about travel.

Learn what happened when I gave my small dog xanax for travel anxiety before a road trip. Story via @honeyandpineco #travelwithdogs #roadtrip #traveltips

We bought this Kurgo car seat cover for our back seat so we can keep our seats protected and give him a little freedom to relax with his blanket and toys. The car seat cover includes little pockets so we can put a bone or two back there with him too. The seat cover keeps the bone crumbs from getting into the seat and I can easily wipe it up later.

I’m not sure if I would try to give my dog Xanax for travel anxiety again or not. I mean, it didn’t work so why bother? My vet did confirm it’s safe to give a dog Xanax but, of course, I’d recommend you consult with your local veterinarian first and confirm dosage as an overdose could be fatal to your pup. 

Do you have any travel tips for traveling with an anxious pup?