Motion Sickness in Dogs

I think most pet owners are familiar with motion sickness. It usually happens when you and your pet are in a hurry to go somewhere and there it is….your dog vomits all over your new car upholstery. This is classical motion sickness.

Motion sickness occurs in dogs and cats and people too. It is caused by irregular or unfamiliar motion that disturbs the sensory pathways that lead to the balance center. The balance center is located in the inner ear. It is called the Vestibular Apparatus. One of the jobs of the Vestibular Apparatus is to activate the areas in the brain that control the vomiting center. This vomiting center can be stimulated by excess firing of the vestibular apparatus such as might happen in a jerky car ride. The excess stimulation leads to vomiting. In some animals there is such a fear response from riding in the car that after that first trip even the sight of the car can trigger this response. Along with vomiting other signs of motion sickness can include excess vocalization, drooling, nausea, pacing, panting , shaking, unsure footing and diarrhea. None of this is very fun in the small confines of a car.

So how do you deal with this?? For some people they choose to never take their dog in the car again, however this is really not practical. For most dogs some training and getting the dog used to car rides is all that is necessary. For others they require some sort of medication to help settle their tummies. The best way to treat motion sickness is to try to prevent it. Here are some practical tips:

1, Don’t feed the dog a large meal before traveling. Make sure the pet has something in his stomach but just make it a small light meal.

2, Condition the dog to car rides by taking him on short rides and gradually increasing the time.

3. Make sure he can see outside and that he has enough room in his crate or area.

4. Keep the car cooler as increased ventilation helps with nausea.
Take frequent walk/potty breaks so the dog feels more comfortable.
5. Pretreat the dog for motion sickness with medication or herbs as directed by your veterinarian .

If you need to use medication, what should you use?
Conventional medication could include Cerenia, Gravol, anti-histamines and other anti-vomiting medication. Holistic practitioners tend to use acupuncture, acupressure( especially on GV 20 which is a calming point on top of the head between the ears), lavender oil and ginger. Ginger seems to do quite a good job. Petwellbeing has a Ginger Gold Syrup that will work well for this condition.

With some training and patience, and a little help from Ginger, this problem should correct itself!

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