For a lot of dogs, the clatter of keys can be the sign of an adventure. But for others, car journeys are just a nightmare.
My dog has motion sickness, what do I do?
Travel anxiety and motion sickness usually come in pairs, making car journeys especially unpleasant for both dog and owner.
Motion sickness usually affects puppies and younger dogs, because the auditory structure that controls balance is fully developed in adulthood.
If your dog didn't feel well during their first outing in a car, they will associate the experience with a negative feeling.
Dogs that have been ill during their previous car trips are often predisposed to anxiety when traveling. They can show signs of illness, avoidance or even aggression. Some dogs can experience nausea because of stress.
These signs of anxiety and illness are usually easily detectable. Nevertheless, for some dogs, the symptoms are much more subtle. For example, they could curl up, shake, or refuse to move during the trip. If you think that your dog is suffering from motion sickness, below are some tips to follow.
Making sure that your dog is safe in the car is paramount. It can also help to prevent motion sickness.
It is preferable to use a harness or a seatbelt that is specially made for dogs. This way, your dog will feel encouraged to look ahead, instead of looking out of the windows or behind.
You can also put your pup in a dog crate. This can be beneficial because the dog won't see outside and it will be easier to clean up any "messes" inside of the crate instead of on the seats. However, the harness and seatbelt are still safer in case of an accident.
Regulate the airflow
Regardless of what temperature it is outside, try and put your windows down at least by a few centimetres to balance out the airflow in the car. This will let your dog breathe easier, avoid nausea and also discomfort.
It is harder to vomit on an empty stomach, so avoid feeding your animal too much before the trip. To prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), you can give your dog a piece of candy or treat higher in sugar before leaving. Make sure to avoid chocolate or candy containing xylitol.
A lot of medicine is effective to reduce or prevent motion sickness, including certain antihistamines and anti-nausea medicine. Nevertheless, ask your vet before choosing what to use. He/she will help you to decide what sort of medication you can give to your dog and what kind of dose to administer.
Desensitize your pet
To help you with the process, you can always contact a dog behaviourist. The goal is to gradually get your dog used to the car. When you are ready to leave, the dog should simply approach the car, sit calmly inside and then finally, you can slowly increase the duration of the trip.
Pheromone sprays like ADAPTIL® have a soothing effect on stressed dogs. Before you hit the road, spray your dog's seat, safety harness or cover.
A familiar smell
Nothing appeases a dog more than the familiar smell of their owners. When you have to travel, try to give your dog a piece of clothing that you have worn recently. Instant comfort!
What are your tips to make car journeys more enjoyable for your pooch?