This article was originally published on One Green Planet.
Some dogs love going for a car ride. Simply saying “Want to go for a car ride?” can leave some dogs in a tizzy with full-bodied wags while they anxiously wait at the front door. But for other dogs, car rides are the opposite of fun and are nothing more than anxiety filled. Motion sick dogs may experience physical reactions from car rides, such as nausea, drooling, or perhaps even vomiting. For other dogs, the reaction is emotional, and they experience anxiety. Whatever the case may be, many dogs become wrought with fear over the idea of riding in a car, making many dog lovers unsure of how to help.
Why do dogs become motion sick in the first place? For young puppies, their vestibular apparatus, the part of a mammal’s body that deals with balance and spatial orientation, isn’t fully developed. For adult dogs, the vestibular apparatus perhaps never fully developed. Jennifer Jones Shults, DVM, CCRT, of Veterinary Rehabilitation and Pain Management Hospital in Cary, North Carolina explained in Whole Dog Journal.
“It could be as simple as a puppy’s ear canals or semicircular canals still being too small to handle the rapid shifts in direction or the acceleration of the car…”
While seeing your dog overcome with anxiety and motion sickness can certainly be upsetting, completely avoiding car rides with your dog is probably not going to work as a long-term solution, considering you’ll have to travel at least a few times to the vet, groomers, etc.
So what are some solutions if your dog experiences anxiety and/or motion sickness during car rides? Here are just a few that could help making car trips go smoother!
Ginger, among other benefits, is largely seen as a natural anti-nausea remedy. Ginger can be found in capsule form but also adding a small piece of fresh ginger to your dog’s food before a trip could help make the trip more comfortable.
Rescue Remedy is safe and natural and can be bought online or at your local health food or pet store. All you have to do is add two drops into their drinking water and it works for animals who have a fear of car rides, or in general have been through a traumatic situation.
Thundershirts are a drug-free, all-natural way to provide relief. The Thundershirt comes in different sizes and is inexpensive. The vest is wrapped around the dog and applies gentle, constant pressure. It’s a similar idea to swaddling an infant, the dog is receiving one giant hug. It might be a good idea to put the Thundershirt on even you’re not going for a car ride, so that way the dog doesn’t associate the Thundershirt with terror. You can order online, or find it at your local pet store. Anxiety Wrap offers a similar product.
Make the Car Ride Easier
When a cat or a dog sees a carrier, they tend to get the hint that something bad is about to happen before they even get in the car. If this is the case, you can help ease your pet’s anxiety by creating positive associations with the carrier. For instance, keeping the carrier where your dog or cat can always see it is a good idea. If they only see the carrier when it’s time to go to the vet or another unpleasant place, they will associate it with something negative. Keeping the carrier out where they can see and smell it might help. Don’t forget to put some comfy bedding and treats in the carrier!
Other Calming Tips
It’s important for dogs to associate the car with a fun experience and not always going to the dreaded vet. Planning short trips, such as for a walk, to the dog park or maybe to a local restaurant where your pup can enjoy food will help them understand that the car isn’t scary.
Please also remember to travel safely with your dog by investing in a travel carrier instead of letting a dog ride dangerously in the back of a truck. And of course, never leave your dog alone in a hot car!
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