Simply the Pets
Travel Sickness & Anxiety
Travelling with your dog to new and wonderful places is one of the great joys of dog ownership. But what if your dog doesn't feel great either during the car journey or after? This can put a real dampener on what should be a fun and exciting trip!
Dog motion sickness and car anxiety are a very real thing and suprisingly common, even on the shortest car rides. Like humans, it's more common in younger dogs and puppies. Some dogs outgrow motion sickness, as do children, but for some it continues throughout adulthood.
What are the symptoms?
- Destructive Behaviour
- Whining/ barking
- Excessive drooling
- Lip licking
Car sickness is often brought on by anxiety, and not the motion itself. After a bad journey, your dog may associate travelling with vomiting or anxiety and so the vicious cycle begins.
Making changes to the way you travel can keep your dog from getting carsick:
- Aim to feed your dog at least two hours before any journey
- Make the transportation as comfortable as possible
- Open windows (a safe amount) - fresh air circulation will always help
- In warmer weather ensure your pet stays cool. Cooling pads or damp towels are great for this.
- Offer water regularly. Little and often is best, too much at once can lead to vomiting.
- Make regular stops - not all dogs can handle long car journeys
- Usually for good behaviour you would reward with treats except with travel sickness this is not an option so rewarding will need to be cuddles, pats and a toy to play with.
- Have someone travel with you who can provide a distraction to your dog through play and cuddles. Don't forget to take their favourite toys along for the ride!
- Change your dogs associations with the car. Take your dog for regular short trips to really fun, exciting places. Ensure their experiences with travel aren't only to take them to the vets, boarding kennels or on very long journeys. Doing this repeatedly will make your dog realise that the car often leads to fun and isn't something to be anxious about.
A few years ago we were asked to help walk Willow, a gorgeous black lab who loved walks, but HATED the car. The most likely reason for Wilow's care anxiety - she only went in the car to the vets or to travel to Ireland to visit family. She lived right on the edge of a large woodland, an amazing bonus but it meant she rarely went in the car for any other reason. After several walks with STP she quickly began to associate the car with going to new, fun and exciting places to walk and before we knew it she was jumping in before we'd barely opened the car door!
I've tried these tips, but my dog is still sick!
If you've tried these tips and your dog's motion sickness continues you may need to look at medication.
These often lead to favourable results and are available without a prescription from your vet.
Adaptil calm collar
A collar which releases a calming pheromone contiuously whilst it is in contact with the animals skin. The collar is activated by the pets body temperature, so needs to be fitted snugly to work (two fingers should be able to fit under the collar).
Adaptil also do a plug in diffuser for your home. Great when introducing your pet to a new home or a new family member e.g. a newborn or new pet.
A natural product which releases pheromones which work alongside the brains natural messengers, called neurotransmitters, which tell the nerve receiving the message to calm.
The bandanna kit is very useful for on the go. It comes with a small bottle of pet remedy spray that you would spray directly on the bandana before putting it in your dog. You can also spray this in your car, the bottom of your trouser legs, on walks and even a small amount on the pets neck.
This product also comes in a diffuser for your home.
This product works by using a calming natural milk protein that is lactose free. This comes in a tablet form, but for those pets who are a little tricky with tablets it also comes as a chewy treat. This product does take at least 3 days to take affect as it needs time to get into the system.
Please contact your veterinary clinic for further information and advice.