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Responsible Dog Ownership Month: How to Prevent Carsickness in Dogs

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Tomorrow marks the start of Responsible Dog Ownership Month, so we’ll be kicking off a series of posts on dog safety in your cars. Look out for more all next month!

Learn how to prevent carsickness in dogs.

Learn how to prevent carsickness in dogs.

Most dogs are thrilled to find out that they’ll be accompanying you on your trip in the car. They’ll bark, they’ll jump, they’ll slobber all over you with kisses. But then there are a select few who don’t do so well behind the wheel. They might grow scared or, even worse, physically ill during a car ride. As such, it’s incredibly important to learn how to prevent carsickness in dogs, perhaps before you even drive home from the rescue or shelter on day one.

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How to Recognize Carsickness in Dogs

You should always be on the lookout for carsickness in dogs, but especially so when they are puppies and young adults. At this young age, their ear structures aren’t fully formed, meaning that they cannot balance themselves as well as adult dogs. Even as adults, however, dogs can get carsick, so it’s important to take note of these visual and aural clues:

  • Whining
  • Drooling
  • Inactivity
  • Excessive pacing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How to Prevent Carsickness in Dogs

If your poor pooch is one of the unlucky ones that doesn’t do so well in the car, there are a number of things you can do to prevent motion sickness, or at least alleviate it.

  1. Build up to those longer trips. If your dog does okay for brief rides, work on building him up to the longer journeys. Take him to nearby parks, but after a few successful trips, try the next farthest park, and so on and so forth. Couple this technique with some of the other methods below.
  2. Face Fido forward. For safety’s sake, your dog should never be in the front seat, so getting her to sit facing forward in the backseat may be difficult. If you have another passenger to sit in the back with her and keep her facing forward, this will help alleviate any sickness. An added tip: either use a safety harness or a crate to ensure your dog is kept secure during an accident. (A crate will also contain any vomit and diarrhea from carsickness.)
  3. Keep the car cool and quiet. Be sure to have the AC running in the summer time, and don’t let it get too warm in the winter. Your car should always be well ventilated. Additionally, keep your music rather quiet—and consider going classical.
  4. Have special toys meant just for the car. If your dog can only play with the most wonderful, fantastic, super, awesome toy during a car ride, he will be much more excited about playing with it than focusing on the fact that he’s scared out of his paws while on the road.
  5. Crack the car windows. Lowering your car windows by just a couple inches will balance air pressure inside the vehicle, reducing your pooch’s nausea.
  6. Include something that smells like home. Bringing a T-shirt or a blanket that reminds your dog of home will help her grow more comfortable.
  7. Fast before trips. If your dog yacks no matter what you do, consider fasting several hours before the car trip. (And don’t try rewarding him with treats for getting into the car, because they’ll probably end up all over the nice, new leather upholstery.)

If you still can’t seem to curb your pooch’s carsickness, you’ll need to speak with your trusted vet. Be ready for the vet to suggest over-the-counter and prescription medications to handle the situation, when all else fails.

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