Motion sickness in pets is no way to start that holiday getaway!

With the school holidays looming and many families on their way to a fantastic getaway with their fur friends in tow what better time is there to post an article about motion sickness in pets! Because no one wants to start their holiday with an accident in the car!

Many owners can feel frustrated by this condition and it is actually quite common in our animals. Suddenly, they might not look too happy. They might start drooling, whining and looking restless. Next thing you know this morning’s breakfast is all over the back seat! So, let’s have a look at how to deal with this problem.

This condition most commonly afflicts puppies and younger dogs and is often outgrown when the ears are fully matured. First signs of motion sickness include restlessness, whining, drooling, yawning and vomiting and while most dogs outgrow it some are so used to associating the car with feeling ill that they simply stress themselves into vomiting again.

 POSITION 

The safest place for your dog to be is in the back seat with a dog harness or in a crate. The front passenger seat has no protection from the windscreen and the deployment of airbags is a potential hazard to pets.

Opening the window about 5 centimetres will reduce the pressure in the car. Increased pressure can affect the ear drums and intensify the sense of uneasiness and nausea.

 DESENSITISATION 

If your pet has experienced motion sickness recently it is important to avoid the problem for a few weeks and keep him out of the car. Once given a break try this process and remember to give lots of praise after each step!

•  With the engine off, place your pet comfortably in the car for short intervals every day. Slowly increase the time he spends in the car when he starts to become more relaxed in his environment. (Never shut your pet in the car as cars can heat up alarmingly fast!)
•  Once calm and relaxed you can start the intervals with the car engine turned on and the car stationary. If he starts to stress start only with short intervals again and increase them slowly.
•  Once calm and relaxed again you can take your pet out for a very short trip. Even go up the driveway and back as a start and as your dog becomes more accepting you can go as far as a trip around the street.

Also try these tricks:

•  Change cars – if your pet is associating your car to feeling sick then try a different car with different smells.
•  Don’t feed your pet before a trip to reduce chances of vomiting.
•  Use familiar items like toys or a favourite blanket.
•  Thunder shirts are tight-fitting shirts that reduce feelings of anxiety. You can substitute one of these with a baby shirt that wraps snugly around the body.
•  Gently stroke your pet's ears from the base to the tip to relieve any inbalance in the inner ear.
•  Giving your dog a full-body massage to relieve tension

If your pet still suffers from motion sickness then you may need to seek Veterinary advice on when steps to take next. Certain medications can be prescribed or given over-the-counter to relieve motion sickness symptoms and give you and your pet a much happier trip.