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  1. dogs health and wellness

Dog Health and Wellness Tips

Dog Health and Wellness Tips

Fuzzy vets' expert dog health advice to help pet parents make better decisions for their pup's health and wellness.
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Tips To Relieve Dog Car Sickness

Posted by Dr. Roth on November 18, 2022

Wellness Care
What to do if?
Stress & Anxiety
What To Do for a Dog With Car Motion Sickness

Dog motion sickness affects pets of all ages and breeds, but it's more commonly seen in puppies than in adults. Pet parents often become worried when they see a dog vomiting or having diarrhea while traveling.

There are effective remedies that can be used to treat dogs with motion sickness, allowing them to improve their quality of life. Fuzzy members who know how to help a dog with car sickness can make traveling a more relaxing experience for their pets.

Why Dogs Get Car Sickness When Traveling

Dog car sickness is sometimes due to anxiety or excitement over what dogs expect to encounter at the end of their journey. For example, if a dog is used to receiving injections whenever they travel in the family car, they'll become anxious and worried. Their fear and excitement will trigger an immune response that causes inflammation in their gut, so they'll have diarrhea.

The second reason is connected to changes in air pressure within a vehicle as it's moving. Just like the ears of a human, a dog's ears are also sensitive to these changes in air pressure. 

Movement and changes in air pressure cause the fluid in a dog's inner ear to move. However, excessive movement of this fluid triggers dizziness, nausea, and other symptoms of motion sickness.

Some veterinarians feel that puppies are more susceptible to car motion sickness because the parts of their inner ear that help to regulate balance aren't fully developed. However, even some adult dogs experience motion sickness in adulthood because traveling in confined spaces such as motor vehicles can be frightening. 

Symptoms of Motion Sickness In Dogs

If pet parents notice dog motion sickness symptoms in their pets, there are steps that they can take to prepare them for car rides. Signs of motion sickness in dogs include:

  • Lethargy 

  • Whining 

  • Drooling 

  • Crying 

  • Diarrhea 

  • Vomiting

Pet parents can take steps to help their dogs get used to traveling in automobiles. Some dogs grow to love this and look forward to any excuse for a car ride.

How To Manage and Prevent Dog Car Sickness

There are many ways that pet parents can make their dog more comfortable during car rides. Strategies like frequent stops and nausea medication can turn an unpleasant experience into one that dogs look forward to.

1. Try Nausea and Anti-Anxiety Medication

Car-related anxiety can be treated with dog motion sickness medication. A prescription drug like Cerenia can be used if a natural remedy for nausea doesn't work.

Cerenia lasts 24 hours, so if a dog normally shows signs of anxiety during long trips, this medication can help them. Dramamine is another drug that's also effective at helping dogs with car sickness.

Along with medication, pet parents can take simple steps to help dogs adjust to car travel. For example, some dogs become more stressed when they're hot. Their parents can help them by keeping the vehicle quiet and cool.

2. Incorporate Calming Treats and Supplements

Pet parents who prefer a natural remedy for dog car sickness can use calming treats and supplements. These provide dogs with the benefits of ingredients like hemp to soothe them during their journey. 

Companies that make chewable treats with calming ingredients also frequently have pheromone sprays and diffusers available. These can be used to treat a dog's carrier and any blankets or toys that they will take on their journey, so they feel more at home inside the vehicle.

A homeopathic remedy such as ginger, that helps to calm humans and relieve their nausea, will also work for dogs. Parents can give puppies up to 250 mg of ginger if they weigh less than 16 pounds. Dogs over 16 lbs can safely ingest up to 500 mg of ginger. 

Ginger is available in convenient capsules. Dog parents who like to make their own treats can bake ginger cookies to help dogs who suffer from car sickness.

3. Feed Dog Hours Before Travel

If a dog has a history of motion sickness, it's important to feed them several hours before their trip. This is an important aspect of motion sickness prevention.

If dogs have a meal or lots of water within an hour before travel, they're more likely to feel uneasy when the car starts moving and they might throw up. Dogs should also receive pit stops along their journey. 

These stops allow them to comfortably take a potty break. However, they also provide them with an opportunity to explore new areas with their nose. The memory of these enjoyable sniff breaks will make dogs excited about travel the next time they need to go to the veterinarian, a boarding kennel, or a relative's house.

4. Provide Favorite Toys for Comfort

Sights, smells, and sounds can all be transformed into sensory signals that help dogs form positive associations between the family car and fun. Pet parents can often quickly alleviate travel anxiety by intentionally exposing their dog to a wide range of positive stimuli on their trip.

Blankets, special toys, and other items with familiar scents can be placed in the car to make their pet feel at home. When pet parents only give dogs particular toys during car travel, dogs learn to associate the car with that toy, so they look forward to going inside the car to play with the toy.

5. Use Desensitization Training

Pet parents of dogs that experience motion sickness can help their canine adjust to car rides by incrementally working up from short rides to longer car rides. Starting with a very short car ride can help a dog adjust to the steps of a travel routine and various driving speeds. Pet parents can work on rewarding calm behavior in the car with high value treats and praise, and work up to longer rides or road trips.

Minimize a Dog's Motion Sickness With the Right Care

Motion sickness in dogs can be treated with medication and other strategies. Veterinarians can give advice on the type of medication that's best suited to a pet's lifestyle. 

Dogs don't have to miss out on some of the most rewarding experiences of life just because of car motion sickness. Sign up for Fuzzy today to talk to a qualified veterinarian who can make the best recommendations for a dog's health and travel needs.

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