It’s a struggle to get your pooch in the car. When you do, you close the door as quickly as possible. You cross your fingers as you turn the key in the ignition and back out of the driveway. Making sure to take turns at a snail’s pace, you avoid the bumpy potholes as best you can. But then you smell it. Yup, sure enough your precious pooch has vomited all over the upholstery of your backseat. It doesn’t matter if you drive slow enough to make out the eye color of the irritated person tailgating you or if you play soft classical music from the car radio to calm your canine. Every time you get your dog in the car, nausea is sure to follow. Not only do you feel sorry for poor Fido, but your backseat isn’t looking or smelling too great either. Read on for some tips to help you with this unfortunate situation.
Pinpoint the Issue
When your dog is a puppy, their ear canals are still forming and this can cause their balance to be off. Being off balance can cause motion sickness, so it is not unusual for puppies to get car sick. Unfortunately, some dogs struggle to outgrow their motion sickness. For other canines the problem can be attributed to anxiety. Many dogs have limited experience in the car and only take a ride when going to the vet; thus, it can be scary for them.
Whatever the root cause of your dog’s car sickness, it is important to try and condition your dog so that they become used to the car and grow more comfortable with it. It is especially important to start this conditioning when your dog is still a puppy. Hang out in the car while it is parked in the driveway. Bring your dog’s favorite toy and spend some time playing and petting your pup in the car. Get him or her accustomed to the smells and feel of the car while it is not moving. The next day, do the same thing but turn the car on for a short while. Progress to short drives down the block and always keep a fun dog toy in the car. Each day, go a little bit farther. Make sure to take your dog to places like the dog park or a hiking trail so they begin to associate the car as a gateway to fun activities.
Other things to consider when driving with a dog that gets carsick is to make sure the car is well-ventilated and comfortable. The back of the car or the trunk can be the bumpiest section. Your dog might be better off in the backseat, kept firmly in place with the help of a dog seat-belt or in a crate. Limit your dog’s food intake before traveling if they are prone to vomiting.
When your dog pukes in the car, don’t make a big deal out of it. Resist the urge to pull over and clean it up because your dog will start to realize that vomiting makes the car stop. Instead, protect your car seats with old towels and just throw them in the wash when you get home.
If your dog’s motion sickness does not seem to improve with time and conditioning, consider medication like a mild sedative. Your vet can help you choose the proper medication to ease your dog’s car-related tummy problems.