You have the perfect adorable pup! He would be a great travel companion, except for one thing… he gets sick while driving. But don’t give up yet! There is a lot you can do to help with motion sickness in puppies.
Why do puppies get motion sickness?
Nobody knows exactly why dogs get sick. But then nobody knows exactly why people get sick in the car! The most widely accepted theory is that the brain receives mixed signals — the inner ear, which senses vestibular movement, says you’re moving, while the eyes say you’re not moving.
What we do know is that puppies and young dogs are more likely to suffer from motion sickness than adult dogs. So it’s possible your pup will outgrow this as their vestibular system fully develops.
Until then, you have to be careful that his motion sickness does not turn into a fear of traveling. If your pup starts feeling nauseous when he’s in the car, he may develop an aversion to travel, even though he’s no longer nauseous.
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How do you know if it’s motion sickness?
Motion sickness comes with some fairly recognizable signs, so it’s not too difficult to figure out. If your pup is showing these symptoms, he could be getting sick:
- Excessive drooling
- Hunched back or other stiff posture
- lip licking or yawning
- lips pulled back
- Frequent swallowing
- vomiting (in some but not all cases)
- Big eyes
If you suspect your puppy is suffering from motion sickness, the best place to start is with a visit to the vet. This can help eliminate any underlying medical issues that might mimic the signs of motion sickness, like an ear infection or high blood pressure.
Once you’ve ruled out other causes, talk to your veterinarian about herbal and pharmaceutical medications and supplements to help your pup. There are some great options that will ease motion sickness symptoms and give your pup time to grow out of the illness without developing a fear of travel.
READ MORE ⇒ My dog hates the car – now what?
What can you do to help?
There are a few things you can do to help alleviate your pup’s motion sickness:
- Try traveling when your pup has an empty stomach. If that doesn’t work, a bit of food or a few treats can reduce the likelihood of him getting sick. A little water is good too – it’s important to stay hydrated, after all.
- Take your pup for a nice walk before you set off so he can relax in the car. Dog anxiety vests and jackets use gentle compression or wrap around your pup and can also help them stay calm while traveling.
- Arrange your pup so that it faces the direction of travel. dr Jennifer Jones Shults, DVM, CCRT, of the Veterinary Rehabilitation and Pain Management Hospital in Cary, North Carolina, says, “The eye center in a puppy’s brain hasn’t really developed enough to understand how to walk backwards; they understand how to proceed.”
- Lower the windows a little. Equalizing the pressure and getting some fresh air helps some dogs feel better.
- If your pup isn’t big enough to see out the window, try a travel booster seat, which can help him feel stable and be able to see out the window.
- If your pup has become ill looking out the windows in the car, try blocking their view of the outside with a covered crate, placing sunshades over the windows closest to them, or placing a fitted sheet over the front windows and rear headrests create a “dog fortress” in the back seat.
- Take frequent breaks, not just letting your pup sniff around and stretch his legs but giving his brain a break from the potentially conflicting sensory signals that could be causing his motion sickness.
- Start with short, frequent trips to happy destinations and slowly build up his tolerance and enjoyment of driving.
- If your puppy gets sick, stay calm. You could easily anger your pup’s anxiety.
It takes a little more patience and understanding, but with your help, your pup will likely grow into a dog who can’t wait to hear the question, “Do you want a ride?”
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What if your dog still gets motion sickness?
If a dog gets sick in the car, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the holiday together. Here are a few tips to ensure that your outings are a success for the whole family:
- Visit walkable, pet-friendly towns that are easy to explore on foot and have many dog-friendly restaurants and activities.
- Opt for a dog-friendly resort and you’ll never want to leave the property! Look for amenities like hiking trails, water sports and disc golf courses, and dog-friendly restaurants.
- Beach-goers know there’s nothing like grabbing a book, umbrella and towel and hitting the sand and surf every day. Find the right beach and your dog will be able to join you!
- Staycations don’t have to be a compromise. If you find that your dog really can’t go long in the car without getting sick, find the nearest pet-friendly hotel in your area, tell everyone you’re going away, and spend a few days taking care of yourself and your best friend Spoil your boyfriend with long walks, lazy naps, room service and late-night movie marathons. It may not cover many kilometers, but it will be a journey you will never forget.
READ MORE ⇒ Planning a pet-friendly road trip
It can be disappointing to discover that your puppy or dog is having “car trouble,” but understanding the problem is an important step in correcting it. And while long-distance travel might not be in your dog’s future, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fantastic adventures together.
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