HEALTH & CARE

Dog Car Sickness: Symptoms And Prevention Methods for Your Pooch

Dog with car sickness
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Most dogs love car rides and road trips and they are curious about the new surroundings. They pay attention to what they can see from the window or they get tired fast and sleep peacefully for hours.

However, there are quadrupeds that are afraid to travel by car, feeling which occurs from the first attempt. For others, this fear is a consequence of a bad experience that marked them, such as an accident or a visit to the vet. Specialists from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) advise dog owners about what to do in case their pooches suffer from dog car sickness.

Dog transportation by car can be a problem sometimes, if the dog is not accustomed to being in an enclosed space and being moved. The dog may overreact when it is removed from its usual environment, but there are ways to prevent any unpleasant events in the car. Just as people, pooches get sick when they are inside a moving vehicle, experience which is very unpleasant for them.

Often the dog will associate any car ride with the feeling of sickness and it will not want to repeat it. The state of stress and anxiety in a dog appears more frequently in puppies because they are easier to influence than adult dogs. In addition, a puppy’s inner ear is insufficiently developed, so the sensation of movement gives it a feeling of discomfort and loss of balance. As the dog gets older, this problem may disappear by itself.

Symptoms of car sickness that your dog might have

A dog gets car sick easily and its symptoms are obvious. You may already know or assume that the main symptom of such sickness is vomiting. Besides vomiting there are other signs that occur prior to the actual sickness. If you are aware of them, then you can prevent vomiting.

Car sickness

Symptoms such as panting, yawning, heavy salivation, restlessness, tremors or excessive licking of the lips are often met before vomiting. In case you notice any of them or anything similar, you should stop the car and let your dog out to get some air and stretch its legs. Also, it is advisable to give it water and pet it in order to calm down.

Medical causes of car sickness for canine pets

If your dog suffers from motion sickness, you should take it to the veterinarian for a consultation. A dog with such a problem often drools a lot and it might end up vomiting even if its stomach is empty. If your dog is afraid of cars or does not want to go inside a car without any apparent reason, you should also take it to the vet to rule out any orthopedic problems. Because of them, your dog might not like to jump in and out of the car. Among the other causes, we can count bad experiences, such as accidents or similar events.

Dog at vet examining

Also, when a dog is taken to the vet by car, it will always associate the car with the destination and since going to the vet is not among a dog’s favorite experiences, it might refuse to go or act anxious.

Ways to accustom a dog with car rides

Even if a dog has a medical problem because of loss of balance in movement, it can still get used with car rides. There are ways you can make your dog’s car ride more pleasant, but these ways take time and a lot of patience from your side. These steps will definitely pay off in the long run, when you will be able to jump in the car with your beloved pet and travel anywhere you would like. It is recommended for you to try these steps before you resort to medication. Special pills for this sickness exist, but they make your dog very sleepy for a long time.

  1. Gradually accustom your dog with your car. You should get inside the car with your pooch and talk to it, reassuring it that everything is fine. You could also try to create a cheerful atmosphere. Do not start the engine of your car from the first time. It is recommended for you to wait for the second training session to do that. However, if your dog seems happy, then you can give it a try. Repeat this experience several times on different occasions until your pooch gets comfortable.
    The reward system also works in this situation. Give your dog a treat if it goes inside your car, another one if it stays and another one if it does not react negatively when you start the engine. In case your dog refuses to go inside your car, you should place some treats near the car to get it as close as possible. Remember to always sit in the driver’s seat because that is where you will be when driving and your puppy should get used with you sitting there.
  2. Show your dog how the engine starts. For really stressed and anxious puppies starting the engine of your car is a negative experience. The main idea is to repeat the steps from point 1 and then to also show your dog what your car can do. You can drive for a few minutes and see how it reacts. In time, your dog should get used with the feeling of being inside a moving car and it will become increasingly sure of itself.
    Its fear should dissipate immediately after showing signs of comfort. Once you achieve that, you can drive for more than a couple of minutes to study its reaction. Gradually increase the distance traveled with your dog in the car. The car can become a place where your dog gets more attention, so it might really enjoy that.
  3. Take breaks when traveling far. Make sure you stop your car every 2 hours when you travel on long distances. Let your dog walk a little outside the car and put some water in a bowl in case it needs hydration. Boredom is something your pooch might feel when you drive for too long, fact which might determine it to act restless. That is definitely not something you would want, so try not to skip the regular stops and talk to your dog as soon as you can.
    If you travel accompanied by another person, it would be ideal for him or her to sit by your dog and pet it while also talking to it, reassuring it that everything is okay and something cool is going to happen. Giving a dog treats during a car ride is not recommended because it might vomit.
  4. Pack a bag for your dog. Water, food, leash and some of your dog’s favorite toys should be in its bag. Having them close will create a familiar environment for your dog. Also, for its safety, you could buy a special cage for transportation suitable to prevent injury in case of accidents or a simple basket to make it comfortable.
    As soon as a dog feels good in your vehicle, it can become an excellent traveling companion. So it is worth training it in order to overcome its initial anxiety and fear. A thorough planning and a few safety precautions will make your trip more enjoyable for both you and your dog.

Treat your puppy’s car sickness

What can I give my dog for car sickness? This is a question that most dog owners ask. The answer is that there are special pills that can be prescribed by a vet, but there are also natural remedies. The main concern would be if the dog you have has actual motion problems or it is just stressed and anxious. You might figure out the answer by yourself, but it would be better to ask a vet before taking any decision regarding the administration of medicine to your pooch that is apparently suffering from a mild of severe form of car sickness.

9 Things to know about Dog Car Sickness

One of the treatments consists of drugs that can be purchased from any pharmacy. However, you should first consult a veterinarian because every dog has specific needs depending on its breed, size and severity of symptoms. The most commonly used meds for car sickness are antiemetics and antihistamines. There are many dog owners who do not talk about this problem with the vet, so they might pick the wrong medication because they end up in desperate situations when their dog gets really sick.

In order to avoid such problem, you should ask the vet about which meds would be suitable in such situation. Some of the meds do not even need prescription, so that is also a reason why dog owners avoid asking for medical advice. Any pill should be administered to a dog one hour prior to the car ride.

There are also many herbal remedies and homeopathic ones that work for dogs too. These are safe, they do not have side effects and they can prevent car sickness. Ginger or Zingiber officinale Roscoe has a long history of use in the relief of symptoms like nausea, vomiting, indigestion, flatulence and dizziness. It primarily works in the digestive tract by enhancing the digestive fluids and neutralizing the acids, fact which makes it an effective alternative to conventional anti-nausea medication.

In order to trick your dog to eat some, you should try to mix it with its tasty regular dog food.

Monopotassium phosphate

Peppermint or menta piperita relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract and stimulates the flow of the digestive juices and natural bile juices. These properties apply to humans, but they are the same in case of dogs as well. Moreover, Monopotassium phosphate provides a quick relief to a nervous stomach. Other homeopathic remedies are Aconite and Cocculus, which are effective against fear, anxiety and panic attacks.

Pulsatilla vulgaris is a flowering plant meant to calm animals when they suffer from car sickness. Unlike the others, this flower is particularly useful for dogs that are kept in small spaces where they are not accustomed to be. The administration of these plants should consist of mixing them with dog food. In addition, there are many more products that contain extracts from flowers, herbs, vitamins and minerals meant to naturally relieve and release stress. For more information, you can ask at the pet store, veterinarian or a natural products store.

Don’ts when travelling with a dog

  • Do not try to take your dog for a long drive from the beginning. It will suffer more and you will not help it feel less fearful or anxious.
  • Do not yell at your dog if it starts vomiting or crying in the car. Verbal or physical punishment does not help it be a better passenger. It will only increase its level of anxiety.
  • Do not give your dog any medication to treat motion sickness before you talk about your options with the vet.
  • Do not let your dog sit on the seat beside you. It should have a special place arranged for it on the backseat.
  • Do not let your dog disturb you while you drive. Purchase a cage for it in case it does not behave. Safety should always come first.

Dogs that don’t get car sick

There are a few dog breeds that are known to respond positively to transportation by car.

English bulldog in the car

Among these dog breeds are the Basset Hound, the Bloodhound, the Border Terrier, the Clumber Spaniel, the English Bulldog, the English Setter, the Flat-coated Retriever, the Great Dane, the Great Pyrenees, the Mastiff and the Newfoundland. If you are a person who travels a lot, maybe you should purchase a dog belonging to this breed. You can train your puppy as soon as it will be able to understand you and to leave the house safely with the vet’s permission and his or her recommendations.

Prevent motion sickness in dogs

Even if you have already eliminated the stress factors, your dog can still have car sickness, but because of other multiple reasons. Therefore, you will have to make sure your dog is physically prepared to travel. In order to prepare it, you should not feed it for 3 to 4 hours prior to your trip.

However, you should not forget to give it plenty of water. Your dog should be able to drink as much water as it needs before and during the trip. In addition, you should maintain your car ventilated while driving. One of the windows should be opened all the time, but only for about 1 inch, not more. That is what your dog needs in order to get fresh air.

Another important thing is that just like us humans dogs need to look ahead while they are inside a moving car. So, positioning it correctly is very important. You can help your dog have a correct position by buying a special harness for cars, or if you want to, you can opt for a special cage. It goes without saying that you should drive carefully, avoiding tight turns and sudden movements.

While you drive, your dog should be occupied. It should do something to distract its attention. Thus, you should bring a few toys to keep it entertained. When it comes to other things you should bring, you can pack a bag with towels, napkins and water just in case your dog vomits and you need to clean up.

Dog motion sickness_infographic

As mentioned before, taking breaks it very important for your canine pet. You can decide for how long you stop, but it is recommended for the breaks to be taken once every 2 hours. Dogs are sensitive creatures even if they seem tough, so try to be empathic and think of what is best for your pet when you travel.

Even if you run errands, you might leave your dog in your car for too long at one time. So, in any case do not skip breaks because they have a very important role in a dog’s experience with car rides.

Conclusions for puppies with car sickness

Car sickness is not an affection that you can foresee, especially in case of puppies, but if it happens, it would be ideal for you to know what to do. If it has already happened, then you can follow the steps described above and try to educate your dog to ride a car like a pro.

However, if your pooch is affected in a serious way, then you can consider the administration of medication that is prescribed by the vet. Remember not to give your pup any medicine that is not recommended by the vet. You can ask about herbal and homeopathic treatments before you choose a more invasive treatment that might cause your dog to feel sleepy and look lifeless for the entire road trip and a few hours after it ends. Safety comes first, so do not jeopardize your dog’s health by ignoring its symptoms and anxieties.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Michelle Drew

    What we do to discourage or at least lessen the chances of our dog being carsick is to avoid at all costs giving him any food at least 30 minutes before the trip. We also took to having them in a crate, a very stationary position that was advised by our vet and… ginger. It helps them keep it down somewhat, which is great since our dog began to enjoy car rides afterwards.

    • John Walton

      Just like humans, it is a great advice not to feed the dog about half an hour before any traveling (regardless of the destination). This helps avoid throwing up episodes because the digestive tract is disturbed.

  • Dana Weather

    When meds didn’t work for our dog, we tried desensitizing him to it. For a few weeks, we just got him in the car and tried to get him accustomed to it. Ten minutes of not starting the car, just talking and petting… then twenty minutes of chilling… until we got to start the car and until we had him accustomed to short and eventually longer distances. It worked like a charm, and we wondered in retrospect why we didn’t try this earlier!

    • John Walton

      Desensitization is a good idea, especially if you correctly apply its principle by gradually lengthening the journey one destination at a time. You can also acclimate the dog by, as you’ve done, staying in the car couple of minutes before commencing the journey. This puts them at ease and eventually make them feel safe and secure.

  • LeahJacobySmith

    My friend’s dog Pete, always gets car sick and my pal doesn’t know what to do anymore.
    She tried not feeding her hours before the car ride. She also gave her dog Dramamine, but to no avail. Treats and toys were also included during rides when the dog starts to shake. We’d like to go to parks and beaches with our dogs, but Pete kept vomiting in the car.

    • John Walton

      Your friend’s dog might have another problem and not just dog car sickness. It can be something neurologic or involves the digestive system. I would recommend an evaluation with the veterinarian to ensure that the problem will be correctly diagnosed and addressed.

0
0
Total
0
Shares