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Preventing Motion Sickness in Puppies & Dogs

Posted by Jennifer on January 30th, 2013

A puppy or dog getting motion sick while in a car isn’t much fun for the pooch – or the humans in the car with them! Unfortunately, much like humans, dogs and puppies can also experience a feeling of illness while on car trips. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your dog in the car. If your dog has been nauseous the first few times traveling in the car as a puppy, he may have conditioned himself to see car travel as a time when he will get sick. Since your dog can’t talk to tell you he’s starting to feel motion sick in a car, how do you know if your pet may be prone to getting sick, so you can head it off before they vomit? You can look for some common signs of car sickness in your pet, such as: Inactivity, Restlessness, Excessive Yawning, Whining, and Hyper Salivation (drooling). Typically symptoms will go away shortly after the vehicle stops, and many puppies will out grow car sickness. But if not or in the meantime, what can you do? Of course, always safely contain your pet in your car using a dog seat belt harness or a crate! Aside from that, there are a number of treatment and training options available to help prevent car sickness for your puppy or dog. Physical comfort in the car, reconditioning, medication and holistic treatments can all help to make car traveling a lot easier on your dog.

1. Physical Comfort in Car
Try these options to help make the car ride as physically comfortable as possible for your dog.

  • Face your dog forward in moving vehicle – if your dog is facing forward he will see less movement. Looking out of the side windows causes objects to blur and that can cause or compound motion sickness.
  • Avoid letting your pet travel in the farthest backseat because this is where there is the most motion.
  • Opening the windows in the car a little bit may help reduce air pressure inside the vehicle and allow for better ventilation.
  • Don’t give your puppy or dog any food for a few hours before getting in the car.
  • Try putting him in a travel crate. Sometimes, this helps to keep him from looking outside too much and helps to keep any sickness he may have in a confined space.
  • Keep it cool in the vehicle. A hot, stuffy ride can make car sickness worse for your dog.
  • Toys may help distract and entertain a high-strung dog.
  • Taking frequent potty breaks may also help.
  • Exercise before getting in the car to travel.

2. Reconditioning
Sometimes reconditioning will help your dog to relax in the car. Reconditioning is needed if your dog associates riding in the car with something bad, like getting sick or going to the vet. Reconditioning takes patience for both you and your dog. Here are some tips to help recondition your dog.

  • Try a different vehicle. He may associate your vehicle with unpleasant memories.
  • Take short car trips to places your dog enjoys.
  • Gradually build your dog’s tolerance. Start by sitting in the car with your dog with the engine off. Do this over a few days. Then, when he seems comfortable, sit in the car with the car idling. After this, take a ride around the block. Now you can try a longer trip. By doing this slowly and over a period of time you are helping remove the stress of traveling from your dog.
  • Use treats to make the car a fun place for your dog.
  • Buy a special toy that they can only play with in the car.

3. Medication
There are times when medications are necessary to help your dog during pet travel. Vet prescribed medications include anti-nausea drugs that reduce vomiting, and/or canine antihistamines used to lessen motion sickness, reduce drooling, and help them to be calm. Always discuss any medications with your veterinarian before using to make sure your dog is healthy, the dosage is correct, and that the medication won’t harm your dog.

4. Holistic Approach
Holistic treatments are another option for a dog parents to try. Some common holistic choices are listed below. Always discuss any holistic remedies with your veterinarian before using to make sure your dog is healthy, the dosage is correct, and that the treatment won’t harm your dog:

  • Ginger can be used for nausea. Ginger snap cookies or ginger pills can be given at least 30 minutes before travel.
  • Peppermint, chamomile and horehound naturally help calm the stomach of your pup.
  • Massage helps to relax your pet before you travel.

Patience and training may help in preventing car sickness during pet travel. You may also need to stock up on certain medications or holistic remedies to help calm your dog if physical changes and reconditioning don’t do the trick. Hopefully, with time and a little effort your dog will be able to ride safely and happily in your car!

This article was provided by TripsWithPets.com. TripsWithPets.com is the #1 online resource for pet travel. It was named BEST pet travel site by Consumer Reports! TripsWithPets.com offers resources to ensure pets are welcome, happy, and safe when traveling. The website features a directory of pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, airline & car rental pet policies, dog friendly beaches, search by route, pet travel tips, pet travel supplies, along with other pet travel resources.

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