Car sickness in Dogs


Travel Sickness in DogsSome dogs are natural car travelers and love to jump in to go for a ride, others are more reserved and some suffer from serious nervous episodes in cars and car sickness. 

Symptoms of car sickness include panting, drooling, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can be caused both in humans and animals through a seeming mismatch between what the eyes see and what the inner ear is telling the brain about the motion the body is experiencing. Car travel can also be confusing and frightening for a dog, and sometimes this apprehension can contribute to the problem. In addition the first big car trip your dog is likely to have experienced is the one that took her away from her mother and littermates. Following that there were also probably a few trips to the vet for shots and maybe even neutering / spaying. If every car trip has resulted in something unpleasant for the dog then it is small wonder some are reluctant or frightened of travelling.

Some dogs out grow car sickness with time - and some can overcome the condition through gentle exposure. You can try to build up your dog's tolerance for car travel by following the following program. You can have several sessions in one day - but not one straight after another.  

Car Sickness Solution

Sessions 1 to 5 - Pop the lead on your dog and go out to the car. Try to keep a smile on your face and be up-beat and positive. Have a pocket full of treats and offer one in encouragement for jumping up onto the car seat. If your dog is too small (or very reluctant) pick them up and pop them in the car where they will be travelling. Leave the door or hatchback open and sit with your dog - pat and praise and keep popping the treats in. After five minutes or so praise your dog and let them jump out of the car - that is all you are going to ask them to do for these first few sessions.
Sessions 6 to 10 - Pop the lead on again and back out to the car. This time after petting and praising you are going to clip your dog in (or crate them, or shut them in the back with the dog guard - however you travel with them). Keep up the praise and pop a treat in for them. Go sit in the drivers seat and keep some positive chatter going - just describe what your doing in an upbeat voice if you can't think of anything else to say. Sit in the drivers seat for a few minutes - then go get your dog - make a big fuss and treat.
Sessions 11 to 15 -  Follow the steps for the last session but this time turn the engine on - let it tick over for a bit and then turn it off. You are taking very small steps along the way to completing a car journey - but the idea is that you are showing your dog there is nothing to be afraid of or upset about and you are treating and praising in an attempt to associate pleasant experiences with the car.
Sessions 16 to 20 - This time you are going to go for a drive - round the block and back to your house. As soon as you get back let your dog out, praise and treat and have a good long game of tuggy in the garden. If your dog is being sick in this very short space of travel time you might want to back up and repeat the previous steps. If vomiting is a problem try to take your dog with an empty stomach, being full of food can make it worse.  
Sessions 21 - onwards - Once you can drive around the block and back without any illness its time to start going further afield. Very gradually increase the journey times - and always make sure you are taking your dog somewhere fun - for a walk in the park, round a local lake, to the beach if you are near the coast, or to a friend or relatives house for a visit. With time and patience you should be able to gradually increase the journey times and build up an expectation of something good happening when you take your dog in the car. Try to stick to straight roads if possible for the early journeys - twisty country roads with lots of speeding up and slowing down can make the sickness worse.

For some dogs motion sickness is purely an inner ear thing - if you have to take such a dog on a long journey speak to your vet who may be able to prescribe a drug to control the symptoms.  






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