According to recent statistics, over 50% of us regularly transport our dogs by car. It should therefore come as no surprise that dogs suffering from car sickness can find themselves at a significant disadvantage.
For example, it might be that owners of these dogs stop taking them out into the countryside, or their favourite park, because they don’t want to make a mess in the car. Trips to the vet can become a struggle too, and as for dog transport when you’re going on holiday – well that’s another matter!
Fortunately, dog car sickness isn’t difficult to combat in most cases. Indeed, there are only two key rules that you need to remember. Implementing these will cure all but the most stubborn cases of car sickness in dogs, so read on to discover how you can help your dog to get over it’s car sickness for good…
Travel On An Empty Stomach
Most dog owners find that the more recently their pet has eaten, the greater the chances of it getting car sick. Feeding a sensitive dog and then taking it straight out for a drive is a recipe for disaster. However travelling on an empty stomach will prevent the vast majority of dogs from getting ill during travel.
You should therefore aim to time your dog’s meals in relation to your travel plans. Planning ahead and keeping as wide a distance as possible between feeding and travelling should lead for a far happier dog and, by extension, owner.
It is worth mentioning that just because your dog gets car sick doesn’t mean he or she always will. In many cases, a dog will slowly get over their bout of car sickness when following the second step of the process. Alternatively, a surprising number of dogs – just like children – seem to “grow out” of their car sickness and with age become the perfect travelling companion.
As a result of this, travelling on an empty stomach should only be considered a temporary solution. Over time, as your dog gets more familiar with travelling, you should aim to slowly reintroduce food, a bit at a time.
Hopefully you will find like so many other owners that your dog slowly becomes accustomed to travelling and then becomes able to travel at any time of day, irrespective of when his or her last meal was.
Make Travelling A Pleasure
Most vets agree that car sickness in dogs is only very rarely related to the actual motion of the vehicle. More often than not, the real problem that is causing your dog to be sick during and immediately after travel is actually the stress of situation, not the act of getting into the car itself.
In other words the single biggest tip for dealing with travel sickness in dogs is to try and eliminate any stress your pet feels while travelling. When travel becomes enjoyable for your dog, the sickness has a very high likelihood of stopping altogether. Over time, we hope it will become nothing more than a distant memory for you.
So how do you reduce the stress associated with travelling? Here are some of our most effective strategies…
Choose Positive Destinations
The first trips in a car that many puppies experience are to the vets. Here they are manhandled by unknown people and given injections. Generally speaking, it’s not a pleasant experience. It seems that a number of dogs therefore get car sick because they are so worried about the possibility of visiting the vet or another equally stressful destination.
One handy trick therefore is to start taking trips to more positive destinations. Trips to the beach, the local woods or to play in the park may also be sources of positive reinforcement. When your dog starts to learn that a car journey can also lead to a positive end result, the stress of travelling should lessen considerably.
Reassure Your Pet
When we drive, it’s all too easy to focus purely on the road while ignoring our quivering pooch. However if your dog is stressed during travel, a reassuring voice can be tremendously beneficial.
Of course, we’re not suggesting that you stop focusing on the road. You might, however, want to take along another family member who is known to your dog. While you drive, this additional passenger can offer verbal and physical reassurance to your dog, helping them to remain calm during transit.
Ease In Gently
When it comes to behaviour change in animals, easing them in gently with tiny, regular changes can work far better than one single, huge change. For this reason, suddenly taking your dog on a full-day car journey across the country probably isn’t the best way to cure car sickness in dogs.
Quite the contrary; the best strategy is to take your dog for regular, short trips in the car. Over time you can build these up as your dog gets ever more comfortable and familiar with the transportation process.
If All Else Fails
In the vast majority of cases the tips given above will work if you’re willing to stick with them. That said, each dog and each owner is different, so it would be impossible for us guarantee your success. In cases where you really feel you’’e tried to acclimatize your dog to travelling over an extended period of time without success then there is one last solution that is virtually guaranteed.
Visit your vet who will be able to prescribe your dog some motion sickness tablets. While these only be used from time to time, and shouldn’t be considered an “easy way out” for those who refuse to train their dog, they can serve a purpose to make travelling more enjoyable for your pet.