Road trips with dogs can be loads of fun! Whether you have a destination in mind, or love to discover new places, bringing your canine pal along for the ride can make the trip even more exciting. Finding off the beaten track trails, or the pawfect dog-friendly restaurant for lunch, can bring a wag to your dog’s tail, and create furbulous memories you both will cherish.
But for a dog who experiences motion sickness or travel anxiety, a car ride could also be an uncomfortable time. Instead of excitement, your dog could be feeling sick or scared, which can make time in the car the last thing they want. Luckily, there are several remedies available that can help your dog have a great time, even on a long road trip!
So, whether you have a vacation hound or a nervous Nellie, read on to find out what you can give your dog on a long road trip to make the journey puptastic!
Traveling with a Dog
A trip that includes our best canine pals is something many pet parents dream about. And with an increasing number of campsites, hotels, and restaurants that welcome dogs, there’s never been a better time to vacation with your pup! If you’re thinking of taking your dog on a road trip, the right planning can make your time together fun and stress-free!
Just like people, some dogs can suffer from travel sickness, which can make each mile of the journey unbearable. Motion sickness in dogs is more common in younger puppies, but it can affect pooches of any age with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. And if you are driving cross country with a dog, that could mean a lot of clean-up stops!
Travel anxiety in dogs is another common issue that can prevent your pup from having any fun. Instead of enjoying the breeze and scenery out the window, your anxious dog could be spending their time pacing, drooling, panting and whining in fear of what is going to happen. While some dogs are afraid of the destination, others may be sensitive to the sounds of the cars, or have experienced motion sickness in the past and are anticipating the bad feelings.
Pooches that suffer from allergies can also have flare-ups as they travel to new locations. And adventure hounds who love to explore may stick their nose where it doesn’t belong, resulting in insect bites or even poison ivy!
If you know your dog has travel issues, have a discussion with your veterinarian who can prescribe medications or give recommendations to make the time in the car more bearable for your pup. Be sure to include some of the treatments from the following list in a dog first aid kit to be ready for whatever the adventure has in store.
What You Can Give to Your Dog
- Cerenia for dogs can ease motion sickness without any drowsy side effects, but will need a prescription from your veterinarian.
- Dramamine, Bonine and Antivert are over the counter human antihistamines that can be purchased in many stores, and even some gas stations. Not only will they stop motion sickness, but they can also sedate your pup to help ease their anxiety while in the car.
- Benadryl is another human antihistamine that does it all! While primarily used for treating allergies and allergic reactions from bites or toxins such as poison ivy, this little pink tablet also helps reduce anxiety through sedation, and can stop travel sickness.
- Gabapentin and trazodone can be prescribed by your veterinarian for reducing your dog’s travel anxiety, but they can come with unwanted side effects.
- Antihistamines, such as those listed above, can also be used to relax your dog, and often have fewer side effects than prescription sedatives.
- Herbal remedies can provide a natural way to calm your pooch. While lavender has been widely used for its calming effects, other herbs such as valerian, passionflower, and chamomile could also help ease your dog’s anxiety. While you can make your own capsules or teas, you can also purchase pre-made remedies, and even treats that your dog is more likely to enjoy.
- Bach flower remedies are highly diluted natural products that are non-toxic and can be dropped right on the tongue. Be sure to consult your veterinarian on the correct dosing.
- CBD oil has been undergoing several studies on its effects on dogs. Not only can it relax your dog, but it also seems to prevent motion sickness too! This active component of the marijuana plant doesn’t cause any “high” effects, but its use in dogs is new, so as of yet, caution is recommended.
More Travel Tips for Dogs!
Besides medicines and herbs to ingest, there are plenty of other strategies to help your dog feel great in the car.
- Aromatherapy can be a quick and easy way to relax your pup. Lavender and chamomile essential oils are great choices to use in a car diffuser, or dab a few drops onto some fabric or napkins to place near your dog. Never put any essential oils directly onto your dog’s skin, or give it to them to ingest, as they are much too strong and can make them ill. Be sure to limit their exposure, and remove the fabric or open the windows after a time.
- Dog pheromone products have long been recommended to help dogs feel safe, and can be found in sprays, wipes, collars and diffusers. Derived from real pheromones of lactating female dogs, they can give your pooch a sense of relief.
- Train your pup to enjoy car rides to eliminate travel anxiety, and see if your dog is susceptible to motion sickness. A trip with your dog will be more enjoyable if your furry bud feels confident.
- Use harnesses, booster seats and raised crates to allow your dog to see out the front window. The ability to see why the motion is occurring can ease travel sickness.
- Wrap up your pup in a Thundershirt that relaxes your dog with a hug.
- Withhold food for a few hours before starting the adventure to reduce your dog's urge to vomit from car sickness.
With a little extra preparation, you can create the best road trip for your dog by keeping them feeling great! For dog-friendly road trip ideas, be sure to check out these pup-approved guides!