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Help with Carsick and Vomiting Dog

Dear Cesar,

I have 2 Cavachon dogs. My boy dog rides in the car easily and enjoys it, but my 1 ½-year old girl dog salivates the WHOLE time she is in the car and if the ride is more than 15 minutes she will vomit EVERY time. It’s REALLY bad. What can I do about my dog vomiting in the car? She doesn’t seem to be outgrowing it at all and the dog vomiting prevents either of them from getting to go in the car, which is a shame since my boy dog loves riding in the car SO MUCH. I’ve tried medicating my girl dog for longer trips but I don’t really want to do that just for quick car rides around town because she stays groggy all day and by the time the medicine takes affect we are already back from our destination and the car ride is over! Help!

Christie Brasco

Cesar’s Advice

Christie,

The main thing is to associate the car in your dog’s mind with good things. If necessary, take a week or two off from bringing your carsick dog along, then slowly get the dog used to approaching the car, getting into it, then sitting in the back with the engine off. Bring your dog’s favorite toy or treats and, as she relaxes (showing no signs of anxiety, panting, salivating) reward her. Extend the length of quiet time in the car over the course of a couple of days, and then begin by taking very short trips, less than the fifteen minutes it was taking her to become sick. You can start by just driving around the block, then take longer trips to places she enjoys—the park, a new neighborhood to walk in, animal or human friends to visit. The idea here is to get her used to the idea that the car means good things, and she isn’t getting sick on the trip.

If this does not stop the problem, you could try the process, if possible, in a different car, which will not have the same associations to your dog. You can also buy a special harness that attaches to the seat belt that will keep your dog facing forward on the road, something that works in cases of human car sickness as well; be aware, though, that airbags can be as dangerous to dogs in the front seat as they are to infant children. Finally, you can limit your dog’s food consumption before going on a car trip, giving her a small piece of sugary candy (but not chocolate) before departing; this is known to reduce nausea.

Most of the time, these techniques will work, and I have seen cases of formerly carsick dogs becoming true travel lovers without a sign of nausea left. However, if conditioning does not do the job, then consult your veterinarian to see whether there is a physical cause and medical cure.

What sort of problems do you encounter when riding with your dog? Please share your experience with us in the comments.

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