Tips for Preventing Motion Sickness When You Travel with your Pets
Last week we drove up to Big Bear for our vacation. BigBear is about 7,000 feet above sea level and the only way to get there is a long windy, twisty mountain road. It’s a beautiful ride, but for anyone who gets motion sick, it can be treacherous.
As I was driving up this year, I was wondering about dogs and motion sickness. We’ve been fortunate that none of our dogs suffer from it – maybe because they ride in the car almost everyday to the dog park, so they are conditioned, but many dogs do suffer from it, just as humans do.
Motion sickness is caused by condition where there is a disagreement between visually perceived movement and your vestibular system’s sense of movement. [Wikipedia]. Your vestibular system (found in the inner ear) controls your sense of balance, so when your visual perception doesn’t match up with the movement your body is feeling, you may experience motion sickness. The same thing can happen with dogs. It occurs most frequently in puppies or young dogs who’s ear structure is not fully developed.
How do you tell if your dog is getting motion sick? Well, since they can’t tell you when they are sick, you need to be aware of the symptoms:
- Excessive licking of the lips
If your dog is displaying one or more of these symptoms, it might be a good time to stop for a break. Other tips for preventing or forestalling motion sickness:
- Make sure your dog has an empty stomach – feed them at least 5-6 hours before your road trip.
- Use a seatbelt/harness that keeps your dog facing forward.
- Keep the car cool and calm – no heavy rock music.
- Make frequent pit stops to let your dog out to walk around and reset their bearings.
- Make the car ride fun – start with short trip to the local park, distract them with a peanut butter filled Kong or other treat.
- If all else fails, you can try treating them with holistic medication – ginger is good for upset stomachs, or ask your vet for a prescription medication to calm your dog and their stomach.
How about you – do any of you have a dog who gets motion sick? How do you treat it?