Your dog has been getting sick in your car every time you try to go for a ride. You laughed it off as you cleaned off your leather seats again, thinking it must be a sign of dog car sickness. Then it hit you – that must be it. Do dogs actually get motion sickness or car sickness the way people do?
The answer is yes. Dogs do get motion or car sickness and often times they will outgrow it the way we as humans often suffer from car sickness as children but outgrow it as adults.
For dogs, there are usually two basic reasons for getting car sickness, either true motion sickness that comes from inner ear balance or from some type of car-related or traveling anxiety. It is suggested that some dogs who have motion sickness are triggered by an absence of early handling by people.
Try cuddling your dog upside down, rolling your dog on the ground, and other motions that can copy the motions of movement in the car. Judge your dog’s reaction. If he seems to get motion sick from these movements, it's a safe bet that he'll suffer from dog car sickness as well.
Anxiety about riding in vehicles may also cause dog car sickness. This is something that will take training and conditioning to overcome. We'll discuss the details of all the reasons why your dog may be feeling sick in the car as well as how to prevent and treat the condition in this article.
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Signs of Dog Car Sickness
There are things you can do to make the car ride easier for your best friend. Avoid having your dog sit in the backseat if you can because that is where there the side windows provide a whizzing view and can make the car sickness worse.
If you opt to move your dog closer to the front and have your dog look forward out the windshield, there will be less movement that your dog will see in its field of vision. Remember that safety is important, so getting your dog the appropriate type of car safety harness is necessary.
Don’t feed your dog treats prior to a car trip, this will only make your dog’s stomach queasy and more likely to get sick on your ride. When you take your dog out for a spin, be sure to be on the lookout for other signs and symptoms of car sickness such as:
- listlessness, uneasiness or inactivity
- excessive drooling
- licking lips or smacking lips
Even though your dog may experience fewer visual disturbances while riding facing front, or even in the front seat, you should be warned that air bags pose a serious risk to your dog. While you work with finding an appropriate treatment plan, consider your dog’s age as younger dogs experience car sickness more often than older dogs and they often outgrow it.
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Treatment Plan for Dog Car Sickness
Working out a treatment plan for your dog’s car sickness can be as simple as making his car ride as comfortable as possible. One idea that may be helpful for dog car sickness is simply lowering your car windows a few inches while it is in motion. This action helps to balance the car’s internal air pressure as well as bring fresh air inside, which may help reduce your dog’s unpleasant sensations like nausea.
Ginger is considered a natural holistic treatment for nausea and upset stomach. You can find it in many forms at your local health food store, but before giving it to your dog, you should check with your veterinarian to be sure the dosage requirements for your dog.
An easy way to give ginger to your dog before a car ride is with ginger snap cookies. These cookies are delicious treats and, if given 30 minutes before your car ride, can help calm a nervous stomach.
Dog Medications for Car Sickness
If your dog doesn’t outgrow car sickness or doesn’t seem to respond to your attempts to ease its symptoms by cookies and pillows. You can seek further advice from your veterinarian who can check if there is an underlying medical condition.
Your vet will be able to go over your dog’s medical history and give a thorough examination to rule out any neurological or behavioral causes. Your dog’s behavior may indicate that simple conditioning by making your dog familiar with going for rides will help.
Otherwise, your veterinarian may suggest medications that can help and will give you the correct dosages indicated for your dog. Some of these may require a prescription but many can be bought over-the-counter. Even if these drugs can be bought at your local pet supply store or drug store, you should always discuss dosages with your dog’s veterinarian before use.
1. Diphenhydramine (antihistamine)
This is an antihistamine, also known as Benadryl, and will have a sedative action to soothe your dog as well as reduce drooling.
This is an over-the-counter medication also known as Bonamine. It is used to treat motion sickness, and does not have the sedative effect that Benadryl does.
This is well known as Dramamine and treats nausea and motion sickness. It also does not have a sedative effect.
Requires a prescription. Used to tranquilize and soothe animals as well as reduce motion sickness. Does have a sedative effect.
What’s Key to Preventing Dog Car Sickness?
Your veterinarian can help you find the most effect medications that will ensure a smooth ride. It may be that your dog generally does fine on most occasions but you may be taking a much longer trip than usual like a cross-country trip or a long flight, in that case, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about what to use on a temporary basis.
Prevention can be as simple as having a car routine. Try not to feed your dog if possible six to eight hours before going for a long car ride. If your dog is having serious difficulties, try spending some time gently introducing him to the motions of the car by going up and down the driveway.
Try distracting your dog with special toys that are only allowed in the car. The most important thing you can do is show your dog that you are a strong leader of the pack. Do not show distress to your dog because your dog is getting car sick.
It's your job to ensure that car rides are fun and trouble free. You do not want your dog to associate your emotional distress with riding in the car.
While you are going for a drive, if your dog does get sick and vomit, do not pull over and clean it up. Doing this will signal to your dog that this type of activity will cause the car to stop. Your dog may use this as an opportunity to start a behavioral problem that by vomiting he can stop the car.
Some dogs will never get over car sickness, however with persistence and age, most dogs grow out of it. Having a positive attitude with your dog and its training also helps you both get over the bumps in the road. Soon you and your best friend will be on the road and taking many road trips together.