Dogs in Cars: Tips to Ward Off Car Sickness

Certainly you've glimpsed them on the road, those free-wheeling pooches hanging out in the beds of pickup trucks cruising down the highway or those self-possessed pets with their noses out the window, happily smelling that rush of fresh air. But alas, not all pets like the open road let alone the road to the veterinarian or shopping center. The following article offers a variety of tips for helping your dog combat car sickness and cope with travel.

As any dog lover will tell you, each individual dog has its own personality. And just as there are people who dislike travel and get car sick, there are many dogs who feel quite the same way. There are, thankfully, ways to help your dog overcome its dislike of car rides. The first is to simply get your dog used to the car's environment while in park. If you have a planned trip, be sure to begin to familiarize your pet with your car at least a week or two in advance. Offer your pet a treat inside the vehicle and be sure to pet it there as well.

Once the dog is accustomed to climbing in and out of the car or residing in its crate within the car, attempt to take a short ride around the block. Hopefully your pet will do fine, but many pets may show their anxiety in a variety of ways that range from relieving themselves to loosing their hair. Pay close attention to any signs of anxiety. Vomiting is an obvious symptom of car sickness, but acute anxiety can manifest itself in various ways.

If you must travel with your pet before it is acclimated to your car, make sure the dog has at least relieved itself before your hit the road. Try not to feed your pet six to eight hours before you leave. A dog with an empty stomach is less likely to vomit or have an accident en route. Water is fine to give your dog; it won't cause stomach upset. If this doesn't work, it could be that your dog can keep its cool better with a very small meal in its belly.

When driving with a carsick dog, it helps to take a smooth route. Avoid roads with potholes and hairpin turns, for example. Try to avoid quick stops and cruise as considerately as you can. Car rides can seem like roller coaster rides to some dogs and keeping the ride as stress-free as possible will help your dog in some ways. Motion sickness can also be alleviated with Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine); discuss this safe option with your dog's veterinarian. In most cases it is quite harmless, but dogs with glaucoma or bladder complaints should not take it without the vet's approval.

You can also extend consideration to your carsick dog by driving it with the air conditioning turned on. Rolling down the windows and letting the fresh air course through the vehicle can also alleviate your pet's sickness. Be sure to keep in mind that car sickness may be more about fear than actual motion sickness, so making your pet as comfortable as possible may help as well. Talk to your pet soothingly and keep the ride as short as you are able. It is also advisable to take rest breaks along the road where the dog can depart the car for a quick romp and drink some water.

Finally, if you can take along a friend--whether one of your own or the dog's favorite toy, you may find that a companion for the dog during the ride helps considerable. It may also help you drive with less anxiety knowing someone or something is beside the dog. A friend can sooth the dog, pet the dog, and allow you to keep your eyes safely on the road rather than on your sick dog.

In extreme cases where none of these tips work, you should discuss medication options with your veterinarian. It may be necessary to tranquilize the dog for long driving trips. This may not be the ideal option, but it does work and may provide your dog as well as yourself with a minimum amount of stress.

Bruno is blogging about rottweiler and golden retriever dogs at

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