Why is it that some dogs can leap into a car at the height of family chaos and packing frenzy, hang their heads out the window, endure the stop and start of traffic congestion and think it was a great outing? And then there are the others – the one in five dogs that suffer from motion sickness and get sick at the drop of a hat. If your pooch is one of those touchy travelers, here are some tips that may help.
Puppies and younger dogs are usually more prone to car sickness than older dogs. Their ears aren’t fully developed at that stage, so the movement of the car can throw off their balance which is regulated in the inner ear. This feeling of not having their sea legs can set off nausea and vomiting. That’s not to say adult dogs aren’t prone to car sickness, but less so.
Stress can also play a big factor in many behavioral issues, including car sickness. For example, if your dog only goes for a ride in the car on their way to the vet, he’s probably associating any ride in the car with a negative experience.
Entering a new stage in your dog’s life could also be the reason. Completely unafraid in their prime, when a dog starts to lose their hearing or becomes more frightened of vibrations, the triggers to becoming worried and stressed out can increase while in the car.
What to Watch For
The most common sign of car sickness is vomiting – both in humans and dogs. But there are many other signs to watch for in dogs that differ from human motion sickness, including:
- Excessive licking of his lips and/or panting
- Drooling more than usual
- Repeated sneezing
- Complete immobility – not moving at all
How You Can Help
Some dogs have a severe case of motion sickness which may require medication. But others can be helped rather easily by following some of these tips:
- Take your dog on short car trips more often to places he enjoys, like a dog park or hiking trail.
- Let in fresh air or make sure there is an air vent aimed at your dog. Hot and stuffy = trouble.
- Don’t feed your dog prior to a trip. Better to pack small, easily digested treats to give along the way.
- Take along his special toys or blankets that create a happy space for him.
- Keep him in his crate in the car – if he considers this a safe, comfortable place.
- Have your dog face forward in the car instead of looking out the side window. There are special dog seat belts to help accomplish this.
Medications That Can Help
If these tips don’t help, or your dog hasn’t outgrown car sickness, there are some over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help. But always consult with your veterinarian before administering these medications by yourself:
Anti-nausea medication such as meclizine or dimenhydrinate are relatively low-dose meds that can help ease nausea symptoms.
Antihistamines are available over the counter and can have a mild sedative effect to help calm your dog. They can also help reduce excessive panting, drooling and other stress-induced problems.
Ginger is a holistic, natural alternative to traditional medications. In either pill or cookie form, ginger can help ease nausea. It works best given to your dog 30 minutes before takeoff.
Best Case: Be Prepared
If your dog has vomited, he is clearly past the early stages of feeling nauseous. For many, their stress level is at high alert, not only because they feel bad physically, but they know they have done something bad by vomiting in your car. So now what do you do?
Just like a person with sea sickness, it may take a while for the nausea to pass. With some, they may also develop diarrhea. After a period of fasting, you will want to feed them a bland diet. Something to soothe and calm the digestive system while keeping their strength up by eating.
Many veterinarians will recommend a bland diet of chicken and white rice for just these situations. But what if you’re busy and don’t have time to cook, or you’re on a trip lasting several hours or days? In both of these situations, you can be prepared ahead of time by keeping a few bags of Under the Weather™ Chicken & Rice on hand before your next journey.
A Travel Friendly Bland Diet Solution
Under the Weather™ Chicken & Rice is made from 100% freeze dried, human grade white meat chicken and quick cook rice. Just like hikers carrying their freeze dried meals, this product makes perfect sense for travelling. Here’s how easy it is. You just need to add boiling water to the product and it’s ready.
So the next time you pack for a trip, take along a glass Pyrex dish with rubber cover and a glass measuring cup. Stop by a convenience store, boil your water in their microwave, stir it into the food and cover about 15-20 minutes until cooled. What could be easier? Happy travels!
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This blog is brought to you by Under the Weather™, provider of products for sick pets.
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