Planning a Trip with Pets Who Get Car Sick

file000267016039Many people have experienced “that look” with their pets. The one where it’s like he’s trying to say, “What? You’re leaving me?!?” No matter how many times you try to explain it to him that he gets sick in the car and he’ll be miserable if you take him along, he doesn’t understand what you’re saying. All he knows is that you’re going on a vacation, and he’s not.

Having a dog who gets car sick when traveling can definitely present its challenges, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t all enjoy the holiday vacation together! Here are a few helpful tips for traveling with a pet who gets car sick.

Treating Motion Sickness in Dogs

If you are a dog owner who has a pet with motion sickness, you’re already familiar with its symptoms: excessive drooling, lip licking, panting, restlessness, shaking, vomiting, whining and yawning. The good news is there is a way that you can help relieve your dog’s discomfort in the car. Depending on the severity of your pet’s motion sickness, and the duration of the trip, these tips may help him enjoy the ride:

  • Travel on an empty stomach. Nausea is always worse on a full stomach. On the day you’re traveling try to reduce or skip your dog’s morning meal.
  • Avoid watching scenery go by. Your dog’s motion sickness may be triggered by looking out the windows at passing scenery. Try one of these ideas to limit his view:
    • Buckle your pet into a seatbelt harness and put shades over the windows near where he sits.
    • If your pet rides in a carrier or crate, consider covering the sides with a towel or blanket to prevent him from looking out the windows (after properly securing it).
    • Try building a “dog fort” in the back seat by stretching a fitted sheet over the front and rear headrests.
    • Consider a cap made from fabric that’s partially see-through to cover his eyes.
  • Keep the car cool and well ventilated.  You can keep the fresh air moving, as well as help equalize the air pressure inside and outside the car by lowering the windows a couple of inches, which may also help reduce your dog’s nausea and discomfort.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about helpful medications. There a few different options of medications available which are FDA-approved to prevent vomiting and relieve other symptoms due to motion sickness in dogs.

Overcoming Car-Related Anxiety

Even if you’re able to alleviate your dog’s car sickness, once your pet has learned to associate feeling rotten with the car, it may take a little effort on your part to convince him otherwise.

To show your pet that traveling can be fun, start by giving him a break from going anywhere for a couple of weeks. When he starts showing some interest in the car, you can move to the next step. If it’s been a couple of weeks your pet is still avoiding the car, try getting him interested in a friend’s car, preferably one that smells like other dogs would be perfect!

You want to build your dog’s positive associations with the car, so begin slowly having him get inside to get a special treat. When you’re getting an enthusiastic response to your request to get in the car, you can move on to the next step.

Make sure the first trip you take is not a long trip. Try taking a  few short trips first with the final destination being places he loves and enjoys, such as the dog park or the pet-store where they give treats. Consider giving him his favorite chew toy during the ride so they hey may have something ease some of the discomfort. For more information on traveling with a pet, read our previous articles: Traveling with Pets in the Car Over the Holidays and Tips for Traveling with Your Pet.

Hitting the Road

Once you’ve taken your dog’s on a few short road trips and eased some of his discomfort and motion sickness symptoms, it’s time to make your holiday traveling plans! Make sure your holiday travels are a success for the whole family with this planning advice:

Limit Daily Driving

If you’re traveling a long ways, be sure to plan and limit the times you drive. Take frequent bathroom and water breaks for your pet.

Vacations Don’t Have to be a Compromise

If you discover that your dog truly cannot ride in the car for any length of time without getting ill and you can’t find a friend for him to stay with, All Pets Veterinary Medical Center provides boarding services for all our clients! Contact us today with the link below for more information!

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