Many dog owners like to travel with their canine companions, but what to do when your dog gets sick in the car? What about older dogs who may be prone to conditions like vestibular disease that causes vertigo and motion sickness? Some natural remedies might solve your dog’s problem and put both of you back on the road again.
Motion sickness is a common occurrence in dogs, with 10 to 15% of dogs in the United States and 23% of dogs in the United Kingdom suffering from it regularly. Although it is more common in younger dogs, perhaps because their inner ear is still developing, older dogs are also prone to motion sickness.
Regardless of your dog’s age, if she suffers from motion sickness, it makes traveling anywhere together a significant difficulty, and negatively impacts your dog’s welfare and your relationship with her.
What is motion sickness and why does it happen?
Motion sickness is your dog’s response to real, anticipated, or perceived movement. Your dog’s body, eyes, and inner ear send conflicting signals to the brain. Motion sickness is a short-term condition that tends to cease once the travel period is over. Over time, dogs tend to experience less motion sickness due to repeated exposure to traveling.
Some dogs, however, become extremely anxious before any car ride, having learned to associate travel with sickness and discomfort. Additionally, dogs with vestibular disease might be suffering from underlying ear infections or some other, idiopathic means due to old age.
What are the signs of motion sickness in a dog?
The signs of motion sickness in dogs are very easy to spot. The most common symptoms are:
Inactivity or lethargy
Vocalizations, such as whining or whimpering
Pacing and restlessness
Crouched body posture
Many dog owners decide to use drugs similar to those prescribed for motion sickness in people, like Dramamine. Unfortunately, these drugs often take several days to weeks to be effective. There are, however, natural options that may be more efficacious and quicker remedies for your dog’s motion sickness.
What are some natural remedies for motion sickness in dogs? Are there any side effects?
There are a few different natural methods that you can consider for addressing your dog’s motion sickness, and many of them are easy to find at home or at a store.
1. Ginger, an herb used in foods for centuries, is a long-standing home remedy for nausea and motion sickness in both people and dogs. It has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes healthy digestion while having a calming effect on the stomach.
A 50-pound dog can be given a ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to reduce the symptoms of motion sickness. Dried ginger can be used effectively as well. Administer the ginger to your dog 10 to 15 minutes before travel.
Ginger is safe for dogs in small doses. Always consult your veterinarian for advice on dosage amounts or using ginger for treatment of long-term health conditions in your dog.
2. Cocculus indicus is a homeopathic remedy that can alleviate motion sickness, especially in cases where dizziness and nausea are present. It is particularly helpful in cases where the smell of fresh air or food worsens the motion sickness. These properties make cocculus indicus a traditional homeopathic remedy for motion sickness and vestibular disease.
While there are no known side effects for cocculus indicus, it’s best to consult an expert before trying this plant-based remedy with your dog.
Cocculus indicus can be given to a dog shortly before traveling and administered in 6c, 12c, or 30c tablet doses. Check with your veterinarian for the right amount for your dog.
3. Lavender provides aromatherapy benefits for your dog that can calm her down and help address nausea associated with motion sickness. Research has shown that there was a significant drop in anxiety, vocalization, and barking when .16 ounces of lavender oil was sprayed on a blanket that was hung up in the dog owner’s car.
There are no side effects to allowing your dog to smell lavender oil, and exposure to it has shown that dogs were more likely to rest and sit comfortably on car rides where previously they had been restless and anxious.
Motion sickness affects many dogs --- and dog owners --- daily. Although drugs are always an option to quell the symptoms of motion sickness, there are natural methods that are easy to locate, cheaper, and just as useful. Herbal, homeopathic, and aromatherapy options might be just what you and your dog need to end motion sickness so you can both hit the road, happily.