What to do When Your Dog Gets Car Sick
You are on the road with your dog, and she suddenly starts foaming and looking really ill. Before you can react, she vomits all over the dashboard. Welcome to the real pet world, where dogs actually get car sick because of the fear of being in a moving car.
The good news is that you can do something about car motion sickness in your dog.
What is Dog Car Sickness?
Car sickness is very frequent in puppies and younger dogs because they lack the sense of equilibrium that comes with age. In puppies, the parts of the ears that deal with balance are not fully formed. As soon as they are, you won’t have to worry about this.
The problem occurs if your dog develops car sickness before these structures develop, because it means that they will forever liken being in a driving car to vomiting.
It’s a vicious circle--if your dog knows that she will vomit every time she enters the car, she will become even more fearful and stressed on the next ride.
Signs that Your Dog has Car Sickness
If you really know your pet, then you will be able to easily point out when car sickness gets to them.
She will exhibit symptoms such as:
- Relative Lack of Activity
- General Listlessness
Not to worry, though, because you can help your furry friend feel better.
Treating Dog Motion Sickness
There is a whole range of approaches you can adopt to make sure that your dog no longer feels sick in the car. You however have to settle on an approach that has them feeling comfortable from the get go. And just like with us humans, the positioning of the whole experiment is instructive.
If your dog is sat shotgun facing forward, she has fewer visual angles and is less likely to vomit compared to when sat at the back where she can see the outside from every conceivable dimension. You will need to put a car seat cover in place anyway, because at times you won’t be able to stop her from vomiting.
In the same breath, you have to know the risks that come with dogs riding shotgun. The airbag could deploy, and this is why people crate their pets. Dogs generally avoid soiling crates but if they ever do, then they tend to avoid them in future. Whichever way you choose to travel, see to it that your dog is safe and comfortable.
Make sure that your dog does not travel on a full belly. If you have to give her food and water, dole it out in tiny amounts. If there is little or nothing in her belly, then chances are she won’t throw up.
There should be lots of air in the car, especially when it’s on the move. Motion balances the air pressure in the car. This prevents discomfort or sickness on the part of the dog. The right temperatures and ventilation make sure that your dog is safe, comfortable and way less likely to suffer from an episode of car sickness.
The Emotional Toll of Car Sickness
Once your dog gets car sick for the first time, it will try to resist your attempts to make it travel, and you need to address that fast. Start by taking a break, as this gives the dog an opportunity to start trusting its capabilities again. If the reaction to travel was extreme, think about changing cars. After a while, your pet will settle down, and only then can you take short experimental trips. Do not go to the vet at this point.
It will take time to build tolerance in your canine. Give her an opportunity to voluntarily approach the vehicle. Allow her inside the car but do not start driving right away. If you sense that she is ready, take of smoothly and slowly. Some owners give the dog a treat here and there but remember, food is a precursor of nausea. A travel toy is a far better alternative.
If your strategies do not work in the long term or your dog does not eventually outgrow the state of mind, you could always consider medication. Talk to your vet about possible treatments for the problem--there is a ton of approved medication for dog car sickness out there. This should only be adopted as a last resort.
Getting Rid of the Odor of Vomit
Because you are never sure when your dog might vomit again, you could always move to make things safer and comfortable every time you step out. Install a car seat cover every time you travel with your dog. When you get home, take the cover off, wash it and place it back on the car. This way, you keep the dog comfortable and the car odor-free.