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Summer Tips Part II: Combatting Carsickness

July 21, 2019

Yesterday, we shared an article about traveling with your dog by car this summer. All's fine and dandy until someone gets carsick! Dr. Marty Becker, a veterinarian and the founder of the Fear Free initiative to take the "pet" out of "petrified" shared a Q&A on his blog with a dog owner who is getting ready for a 12-hour car ride with their dog. If you will be going on the roadtrip of a lifetime with your dog this summer, read below what Dr. Marty Becker suggests for you to do to prevent your dog from getting carsick.

Q: We’re moving at the end of the summer, and it’s a 12-hour drive to our new home. My dog gets carsick or pants a lot even on short rides. How can I make the trip as stress-free as possible?

 

A: You can take several steps to help your dog have a better experience for both short trips and your upcoming move.

 

Start now to desensitize and counter-condition your dog to car travel. Place him in the car where he would normally ride. Since he experiences carsickness, reward with praise or a favorite toy instead of a food treat, and take him out right away. Repeat until he’s comfortable getting in the car.

 

Next, start the engine while he’s in the car. That’s all; don’t actually go anywhere. As above, reward and then take him out. Practice until he’s comfortable. Follow with backing out of the garage and pulling back in and eventually going around the block or some other short distance. Always pair each step with a reward to create a positive association with riding in the car.

 

Wearing a ThunderShirt or similar snug-fitting garment, use of a canine pheromone spray such as Adaptil in the carrier, and playing music created for dogs may also

help to ease anxiety and reduce the likelihood of carsickness. Consider a car seat or carrier that allows your dog to see out the window. Fresh air and a view of the horizon can help to minimize motion sickness. Withhold meals in the morning so he’s riding on an empty stomach, but give small amounts of water throughout the day. Feed him when you stop for the night.


Finally, ask your veterinarian about an anti-nausea medication called Cerenia. It has been proven in clinical trials to help dogs with motion sickness.

This article was first published on Monday, June 3, 2019 on Dr. Marty Becker's blog titled "How to help your dog’s carsickness" as part of a series of questions and answers in an article that was co-written by Dr. Marty Becker with Kim Campbell Thornton and his daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker for the Pet Connection.

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