Millions of dog owners in the United States consider their pet to be a part of the family and include them on family vacations. Just like other members of the family, your pup can get car sick, too. Typically, there are two reasons why dogs get car sick: motion sickness or car-related anxiety caused by a fearful or traumatic experience in the car.
The American Kennel Club offers tips on curbing your canine’s car sickness, as well as tips for comfortable and safe travel.
Motion sickness. If your pup is prone to motion sickness, slowly acclimate him to car travel by cuddling him upside down in your lap, picking him up in the air, or rolling him around on the ground. These motions will simulate what your dog will experience in the car.
Avoid feeding your dog beforehand. Try not to feed your pup too soon before your planned trip, or feed him lightly. You don’t want to upset an already off-balance digestive system. Also, avoid putting the dog in the farthest backseat where there is the most motion.
Create a positive car experience. If you mainly take your pup in the car to go to the vet, he may associate the car with getting shots, which is not fun. Avoid turning on the car and just sit in the car with him for a few minutes each day, gently petting and praising him.
Transition into turning on the car. After you’ve sat in the car for a few days with it turned off, try turning it on and sitting with your dog for a few minutes while it is running. Bring a toy and make it a positive experience. Do this for a few days until he shows enthusiasm for going to the car.
Keep the rides short. You’ll want to try driving up and down the driveway once and then exit the car. After a few days of no sickness, try increasing the distance by driving up and down the street. If he does get sick, then simply move the process backwards until he is not sick again.
Other safe travel tips to keep in mind. Be sure to secure your pooch in a crate, carrier or harness that attaches to the seatbelt. In addition, avoid letting him hang his head outside of the window, as it may result in serious eye or ear injuries.
NOTE: You should NEVER leave your dog unattended in any vehicle, for any amount of time.
For more tips on dog ownership, visit the AKC at www.akc.org.