Health and Grooming

Coping with Car Sickness
Not all dogs love a car ride. Some dogs seem like they were born for it, whereas some dogs dread the idea of one. Some dogs are so enthusiastic about a car ride that they energetically jump in the car while other dogs dissuade you from getting in the car. Have you ever wondered why? Some dogs are prone to carsickness and they know what’s coming once you turn on the ignition.

Is car sickness a common thing in dogs?
According to a research conducted in Europe, many dog’s suffer from carsickness:
  • About 1 in 3 dogs that travel suffer from travel sickness.
  • 75% of dogs experience travel sickness for the first time when they are puppies.
  • 47% of dog owners would travel more with their pet if they did not suffer from travel sickness.
The symptoms of carsickness: Dogs that are prone to carsickness usually aren’t subtle about it. If you notice that your dog is hesitant—or downright anxious—about entering a car, that may be a signal that he doesn’t find car rides a pleasant experience. Once you’re on the road, you may find your dog displaying one or more of these symptoms: excessive drooling, obvious panting, trembling, heaving, and vomiting.

Here are some helpful tips that will help with carsickness in your dogs:

Desensitization training: Some pet psychologists think the problems begin with a dog’s first car ride, which is often the day when he leaves the security of his mother and littermates. An early trip in the car might also include a traumatic visit to the veterinarian. These first encounters leave a powerful impression on your pet. That's why he might be associating fear and stress with the car.

In those cases, desensitization training may help. Though this potential solution requires patience, it is often effective in reversing problems. The key is to reprogram your dog's attitude by replacing negative triggers with positive conditioning. First, put your dog in the car (in the place he will be sitting) and let him settle and relax for five minutes. Leave the doors open. Don't go anywhere. Don't even start the car. Praise and reward him with words, affection, and small treats.

Next, start the car—but don't drive. Observe your dog for signs of stress, which might include shaking, drooling, or drooping ears. If these are present, turn off the car until your dog calms down. Do not attempt to calm him, as soothing and attention as a result of his anxiety can actually reinforce the behavior. Eventually, when your dog is able to deal with the sound and vibration of the engine running, go for a short drive to a place he enjoys, like a park or dog run. Reward him with a toy, treat, or praise. You can continue this desensitization process until your dog is no longer queasy in the car. This generally takes several sessions.

Make sure your dog travels on an empty stomach: Many owners have discovered that an empty stomach is an effective way to prevent carsickness.

The security of a crate: It might also help to travel with your dog in his crate, if it can be securely fastened on the car’s seat or floor. The crate generally comforts your dog and gives him a place to lie down, which can reduce motion sickness.

Make frequent rest stops: If you dog realizes that he’s not going to be confined to a moving car for too long a period, he may enjoy the trip more. So take frequent rest stops for him to stretch his legs and relieve himself.

Open the windows for fresh air: If you’ve ever been carsick, you know how fresh air can help revive you. So open the windows a safe amount—not enough for your dog to escape or stick his head out—and let the air (and its distracting and ever-changing array of odours) refresh your dog.

Medication: If all else fails and you must travel with your dog, consult your veterinarian about possible medications that can be prescribed.
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