Car Sickness in Dogs - Causes & Treatment from Experts
You and your dog are driving to the dog park when they suddenly stop looking so good. Before you realise it, the biscuits you offered them when they got in the car are back, this time in the vomit-covered mess on your leather seats.
As you've probably guessed, dog car sickness exists, and it can make even the smallest trips hectic for both you and your canine companion. Fortunately, there are remedies for your dog's nausea, ranging from conditioning your dog to car rides to using dog travel sickness medications.
Reasons that Causes Car Sickness in Dogs
Car sickness in dogs is usually caused by one of two factors: physical or psychological. And the latter can sometimes be the cause of the former.
Motion sickness in dogs, like in humans, is linked to the sense of balance. It is most commonly seen in puppies, as well as in young children. This is since the structures in the inner ear used for balance have not yet fully developed. Of course, some dogs never get over nausea and vomiting brought on by motion sickness, just like some humans do.
Car-related anxiety can also affect dogs. If your dog's first few car trips are caused by car sickness and vomiting, she may tend to connect the car with being sick. Alternatively, a dog may relate being in the car with unfortunate or severe trauma, such as visiting the vet or being isolated from her litter. She may blame the car for her anxiety and nausea.
Whatever the reason, you can take steps if every car trip ends in a scene straight out of a horror film, a very unhappy dog, and a car that needs to be thoroughly cleaned.
Understanding if You Dog is Experiencing Car Sickness
Dog car sickness frequently results in vomiting, but other symptoms include:
- Excessive yawning
- Licking lips excessively
Even if your dog isn't throwing up, they might be communicating with you that they're having trouble in the car if they exhibit some of these behaviors, such as excessive yawning and lip-licking. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should try to identify and address the source of the stress. Use context clues to determine if they're experiencing carsickness: does it happen regularly you're in the car, regardless of distance travelled? How and where does your dog ride in the car? (For example, do they stand, sit, or lie down? Where are they in the vehicle?)
Conditioning and Desensitisation to Treat Car Sickness in Dogs
You can take measures to overcome car sickness in dogs. Begin by taking the puppy for a few minutes in the car each day. Don't start the car or drive anywhere; simply sit quietly, praising and gently petting.
After a few days of sitting in the car, consider trying to start it and simply running for a few minutes with her in it. Offer a toy and entertain her. Make it a joyful occasion. Then turn off the engine and exit. Put her through this for a few days until she starts to want to get in the car. The key here is to move slowly after she shows no signs of illness.
Next, keep driving the driveway or route in front of your house once, then stop and exit. Boost the number of travel gradually until you can start taking short trips to places your dog enjoys, such as a park or to see a playmate. If she becomes ill, go back a step or two until she develops tolerance to the car.
Stay calm if you make a mistake or lapse. Your dog may exhibit anxiety symptoms such as whining, drooling, licking her lips, or vomiting. She won't feel any less stressed if you yell at her or make a big deal. Maintain your cool and try again tomorrow.
Socialisation Benefits for Dog Car Sickness
Early, effective socialisation is critical in assisting puppies and young dogs in developing a positive association with car rides. When a dog only ever rides in a car to go to the vet, the groomer, or the boarding kennel, there's a good chance he'll start to worry about car rides. Among the first car rides when folks get a new dog is frequently to the vet for the animal's initial wellness examination, which is frequently upsetting.
Puppies and dogs must have plenty of opportunities to use the car as a fun portal. One thing you can do is plan "cookie visits" at the vet's office, in which they come in during a slow period to sit in the waiting area, eat cookies, enjoy a toy if willing, schmooze with any employees, and then leave.
Similarly, planning several short rides to interesting locations can help teach a dog that riding in a car is a good thing. Drive to the park for a pleasant stroll. Drive to a play date at a friend's house. Alternatively, you could drive to your favorite fast-food restaurant and give your dog a small bite of food from the drive-through.
How to Prevent Car Sickness in Dogs
Here are a few tactics you can use to lessen car sickness in dogs while on the road.
Puppies connect their anticipation of what will occur at the end of the ride with feeling sick. Make the car a puppy palace filled with toys and treats that the dog can only access when outside or inside the car to alter the dog's perspective. Teach your dog that the car gradually has many advantages. Good dog praise and admiration, as well as treats, can go a long way. In pet stores, you can get pheromones that calm dogs and anxiety wrap that can help you feel less anxious.
It will be less inclined to feel sick if the puppy doesn't have anything in its stomach to throw up. Make sure the dog has been fed several hours before leaving on your trip. However, offer water to help settle an upset stomach.
Puppy stomachs can be upset by the movement of a moving car with no view of the road. Small puppies might not be able to look out the window, but as the dog grows and can do so, it can use this ability to help it become more oriented to the moving environment.
Make sure the puppy is securely fastened in the back seat in a safe carrier or another restraint. If an airbag deploys, unleashed dogs in the car risk fatality.
Crack open the window to give your puppy some fresh air to enjoy sniffing. All the fresh scents carried by the wind will divert the dog's attention from any tummy ache. It can sniff without jeopardizing eye injury from flying objects due to the narrow opening.
You should also stop and let the puppy walk around for potty breaks during long car rides. Most dogs enjoy exploring new places through their sense of smell. Your puppy can learn to associate the car with exciting new surroundings to explore by taking a potty or sniff break.
Natural Remedies For Car Sickness in Dogs
Many natural remedies have been proposed for dogs who get motion sickness.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that ginger can help dogs with nausea and vomiting. However, consult your veterinarian before trying it because it should not be given to dogs with known bleeding disorders or dogs taking anticoagulants or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Adaptil is a spray or collar-based calming pheromone product for dogs. The collar can be worn daily for calming effects, whereas the spray should be applied 15-20 minutes before travel or any other stressful event.
Before loading your dog, spray the interior of your car or the travel crate in which your dog will be travelling.
When given orally, several supplements are designed to calm dogs. For maximum benefit, some may require daily administration for several days to weeks. These products have few negative side effects, making them suitable for most dogs.
Lavender is another safe aromatherapy option that can be used as a spray. Additionally, a few minutes before leaving the house, soak a cotton ball in lavender essential oil and put it in your car.
Simply dispose of the cotton ball after your trip or store it in a location where your dog cannot access it and ingest it before or during the trip.
CBD is another product you could try for dog motion sickness (cannabidiol). CBD is becoming more commonly accessible and is available in various forms, including chews, treats, and oil.
CBD restrictions vary widely, and the quality of CBD in items is not always assured. If you want to try CBD for motion sickness in your dog, talk to your veterinarian about safe options.
When Should You Visit The Vet?
Motion sickness worsens over time if not properly managed, so if your dog is exhibiting symptoms, it's best to consult your veterinarian before things worsen. Your veterinarian may suggest medication, such as something for nausea or an anti-anxiety drug, if nothing else seems to be working. The veterinarian may even recommend a sedative. Herbal remedies and plants such as lavender, ginger, and valerian may help soothe your dog and settle his stomach. Before administering any medications or herbal remedies to your dog, consult a veterinarian.
Despite the fact that many dogs will outgrow car sickness, some will always be susceptible to it. It would be a shame if every vet visit were traumatic (for both of you) or if your dog had to miss family gatherings and vacations. It's well worth the time and effort to help relieve your dog's car angst and make car travel more comfortable.