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Pet Carsickness - Does your pet suffer when traveling in the car?

Pet Carsickness - girl and dog in car
Traveling in a car can be stressful for your pet

The first thing to realize when dealing with your pet's car sickness is that, in 95% of cases, it is stress related and not motion related.

Pets are comfortable in a familiar environment and removing your pet from its environment will cause stress unless your pet is accustomed to it.

Your pet may relate to a car trip with being taken away from its first home, or trips to the vet or even worse, the kennel. So, it's not surprising that subsequent rides in a car should evoke very strong mental and subsequent physical trauma.

Solutions for stress-related car sickness in pets

Get a carrier or crate and get your pet accustomed to being in it at home. Put familiar things in it and encourage your pet to use it. Treats are excellent for coaxing a pet into a carrier or crate. Always leave the door to the crate of entrance to the carrier open and let your pet come and go as they please. This will take a while, but your pet needs to understand that their carrier or crate is a comfortable and safe place.

Start taking short, frequent trips in the car with your pet in their crate or carrier. At first, trips can be only a minute or so. Then graduate to longer periods of time. Position your pet more in the front of the car if possible.

Find a park or open space about 5-10 minutes from home, ideally have someone else in the car too, to soothe the dog and distract them from the ride. Keep your pet happy all the way to the park. When at the park do all the enjoyable things that a dog loves, fetch the ball, and chase the Frisbee. The stay at the park doesn't need to be that long. It just needs to be as enjoyable as possible. Then soothe your pet all the way home again. When you reach home, make just as much fuss as you did at the park. Finish the session with his meal or a treat if time and conditions permit. Try doing this as frequently as you can.

Pets are comfortable with habits and associate strongly with past experiences. Now your pet will now associate car travel with fun times. Always praise your pet for good behavior and never punish them should they get sick in the car. Just keep working with them and things should improve. If not, ask your veterinarian whether their could be a health issue with your pet's health.

Instead of dramamine for your dog, consider an all natural pet calmer that will address stress related sickness.

You can ask your veterinarin about a medication called Cerenia that will help deter vomiting in dogs.

Travel on empty

Generally, it's a good idea not to feed your pet within four hours before embarking on a road trip. Having an empty stomach will make your pet less likely to throw up, and if he does get sick, there's nothing solid to deal with. Giving your pet water, however, won't upset his stomach and may make him more comfortable.

While some pets travel best on an empty stomach, others will feel more comfortable after eating a small meal. Some pets just need a little food in their stomach to help keep them from getting sick.

Take frequent rest breaks

While some pets can travel for hours without having problems, others start getting queasy after a few miles. Get to know your pet's pattern and stop at least every hour or two to take a quick walk to help your pet get his land-legs back.

Distration Action

Try having a passenger distract your pet with a toy. A favorite pull toy or old sock may just take your pet's mind off its surroundings for a while. Certainly, added attention will accomplish this effectively.

Be up-front with your pet

There's not as much movement in the front of the car as in the back, so it might help your pet if you let him ride in the front seat, but make sure they are in a dog harness or a small kennel that buckles into the seat. Another consideration would be whether your car has dual airbags. This may cause your pet harm or great distress if these are released in the case of an accident. Regardless, try to position your pet so it is facing forward in the car.

Expand their horizons

Pets, like people, are less likely to get carsick when they can watch the passing scenery. There are pet car seats that will elevate smaller to medium pets to allow them to look out the window while still being harnessed.

Crank down the windows

Fresh air is good for anyone who's feeling a little carsick, including your dog or cat, but don't open the window enough so he can escape or get his head out the window. This can be especially damaging to a pet's eyes.

Try a different set of wheels

If other remedies suggested here fail, try a larger vehicle. Sometimes the added stability of a larger vehicle can help. Certainly worth a try.

A motion potion may do the trick

When all else fails, Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) -- the same drug people take to ward off car sickness -- also works for pets. Medium to large dogs should be given 25 to 50 milligrams of Dramamine at least an hour before traveling in a car, cats and small dogs should get about 12.5 milligrams. Be sure to check with your vet before giving your pet any medicinal product. We recommend an all natural pet calmer. You can also try a more holistic approach with ginger, chamomile or peppermint. Best to experiment on solid ground to be sure your pet can tolerate these herbs.

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