“Wanna go for a ride?”
It’s probably the most well-known question for dogs. Most love to be in the car. It doesn’t matter if you are traveling across the country or around the block, if your dog enjoys car rides, he will bounce with joy at the prospect of going for a ride. But if you happen to have a dog who gets carsick and has nausea, riding in the car might not be top of his list of things to do with you. If your dog gets in the car and experiences listlessness, drooling more than normal, vomiting, or excessive panting while in the car, he is probably experiencing nausea. If your car ride is planned, there might be ways you can prevent your dog from feeling nausea while riding.
Nausea while riding in a car is a simple form of motion sickness. Younger dogs are more likely to develop nausea while riding than older dogs because the structures within their ears that maintain equilibrium are not yet fully developed. Having your dog become accustomed to the car while they grow out of puppyhood is a good way to prevent nausea while riding in the future. Not only will your puppy’s body develop and grow, but he will also get used car rides.
Helping your dog to acclimate to car rides can be done by giving him a special treat every time he gets into the car. You can even stop at a particular place for a treat each time he is in the car. Many drive-thru businesses offer treats for pups. You can also keep a special toy in the car specifically for car rides that your dog will be excited to find each time he gets in. When possible, especially for those first few rides, have someone from your family ride with your dog to provide him comfort. If your dog is going to be in the car quite often, he is going to need to associate car rides with comfort, fun, excitement, and certainly, feeling well.
Keeping your dog sitting upright in a seat with a dog harness and seat belt could give him enough height to look out the window. Just as with people, looking off in the distance out the window could prevent nausea. Keep the car cool and comfortable. Your dog may enjoy an open window. Just be sure to keep your dog safe and don't open it wide enough for him to jump out or place his entire head out the window.
If your dog fears the car because of nausea he has felt in the past, make your destination a fun one for your dog. Stopping for a treat or going to a dog park to play will get your dog more excited about being in the car and could potentially lessen nausea he feels. Stop frequently so your dog has time to get out, stretch his legs, and get some fresh air. And as you are getting back into the car, make a big deal out of strapping your dog in for safety and making him as comfortable as possible with a small treat for getting back in. With a special tone, your words can remind him he's going to have a fun adventure.
Preparation is very often the key to prevention. Before you leave your home, make sure your dog has an empty stomach, so motion sickness and nausea do not turn into vomiting inside your car. Be sure before you begin to take your dog out on rides to have the proper safety gear for your dog as well as for your vehicle. Whether a carrier or a harness and seatbelt, having your dog strapped in for safety is imperative, but also provides more comfort for your dog.
Reduced anxiety can also lessen the sensation of nausea your dog might feel while riding. If none of your tried-and-true tricks work, you can certainly see your veterinarian for anti-nausea medications to give before you leave home. Your veterinarian can also talk to you about anti-nausea foods you can give to your dog such as ginger treats. Your local pet store can show you anxiety blankets or wraps such as Thunder vests to help ease your dog's anxiety, which could also reduce nausea. If you use essential oils, you could spritz peppermint or lavender into your car to offer a calming effect for your dog before he gets in to go for a ride.
If going for a ride is something your dog will often do, whether he is working with you or simply because you would like to take your companion with you to fun places, nausea may be something you will need to control before taking your dog on rides too often. If your dog is not feeling nauseous while in the car, he will be more excited to go for rides. Also, with nausea often comes vomiting, so if you can prevent nausea before your dog is even in the car or while your dog is in the car, you will have a lot less cleanup to do. Dogs love to go for rides once they are used to the car and the feeling of motion. Once your dog gets over this initial feeling of nausea, you will have one happy pup every time you say the words ‘Wanna go for a ride?’ Spending time with your dog outside of your home can be fun and exciting-- taking your dogs to local dog parks gives them the social time they might not get inside your home.
If you have a puppy or if your dog is not used to riding in the car, start slow and take some breaks from riding before doing it every day. Once your dog is in the car often, if you are going on long trips, be sure to take frequent breaks so your dog can get some fresh air, eliminate, and move around. Be sure to keep your dog safe while in the car, not free roaming, not hanging out the window, and not riding in your lap. Car rides can certainly be fun for you as well as for your dog. Nausea, on the other hand, is not so fun.