Q: Tasha, my one-year-old Dalmatian, tends to get motion sickness during car rides. We try to keep the journey as smooth and short as possible but she still ends up vomiting or drooling a lot during and after the experience. The good thing is she recovers quite quickly – about 30 minutes to an hour – before she goes on to play at the park, dog run or beach. What can I do to ease her motion sickness?
A: Generally, dogs find travelling in a car difficult to cope with. The instability under its feet is enough to throw the dog's sense of balance off; this coupled with bumpy roads, turning of corners and braking will only stress your dog’s ears sensing motion which is in conflict with the dog's visual images thus causing the dog to feel discomfort, salivate profusely and at times nausea and vomit.
For a start, I would recommend that you never feed Tasha a heavy meal just before a car ride. Plan ahead and feed her at least four hours before travelling. You will also need to make sure that she is seated or rested securely on the floor board or on the car seat. Naturally, the type of vehicle that you have will impact on the degree of stability. For example, if you are driving a station wagon, the back of the car may not be the best place to counter motion sickness. To ensure your furkid’s security, you can purchase a dog harness which will restrict his movement as it will keep her seated. Never allow Tasha to stand and walk around as this will worsen the motion effect.
To get her used to travelling in your vehicle, you have to make the journey a positive experience. For a start, begin slowly by encouraging Tasha to get into the stationary car (please ensure that your car is parked under a cool shade and the windows wound down completely). Once inside, secure your dog and keep the doors open. Watch carefully for signs of stress and discomfort such as salivating profusely. If Tasha has no adverse reaction, shower her with lots of praises and tasty treats. Repeat this process for five days until she confidently gets in and out of the car without salivating. Once you have achieved this, progress to closing the doors, turning on the ignition, and driving in and out of parking lots or around the neighbourhood. If in doubt, call on your behavioural training therapist to show you how your dog can travel without getting carsick.
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