Think about it for a minute. Traveling by car, however mundane it seems to us, might feel like an alien abduction to your dog. Here, they stand or sit; happy, well-adjusted canines, confident in their ability to explore the world on foot.
Now they find themselves trapped and strapped inside a strange object that’s making some very weird noises, flashing through a blur of landscapes at speeds no sane dog would contemplate attaining on all fours. No wonder they shake and drool and pant and vomit and poop; turning to us, their beloved guardians and cleaner-uppers, to deliver them from the discomfort we have unwittingly inflicted upon them.
If your dog is a puppy, you need not worry — yet. Pups, like kids, are more prone to car sickness. It’s a matter of their inner ear, the part that governs balance, not being fully developed yet. Chances are your dog will get over it by the time they’re a year old. That’s not to say you should ignore the problem until it goes away on its own.
There are many well-known, widely tried and mostly true remedies for pet travel sickness. In the over-the-counter category, Dramamine for front-end eruptions and Pepto-Bismol to ward off explosions from the rear have safe and successful reputations. Ginger snaps, which double nicely as canine and human munchies, are known to ward off nausea.
Herbal remedies such as peppermint, fennel, catnip and dill relieve stomach problems, along with a homeopathic, mouthful of an antidote called Cocculus Indicus. Whatever product and path you choose, always consult with your vet to verify safe choices and dosages. And your vet can suggest a variety of prescriptive medicines as well.
If none of the above work in puppyhood, you’re facing an even bigger problem when your dog grows up; the anxiety they’ll face every time they’re expected to ride in a car.
3 Tips to Help Your Pet Enjoy Car Travel
- Desensitize them by traveling in baby steps, driving in and out of the driveway, down to the end of the block and back, around the block and so on until a real trip to an actual somewhere becomes doable. Praise them before and after.
- Applying oil of lavender to a cotton ball or your dog’s collar can have a calming effect on both your dog and you.
- “Rescue Remedy”, that mysterious combination of Bach Flower remedies, water and, not too surprisingly, brandy, has been alleviating anxiety problems in dogs since the early 1900’s.
Now for a really off-the-wall suggestion. Wearing an E-collar, colloquially known as the “Cone-of-Shame”, soothes some dogs while traveling in a car. Lord knows why having an inverted lampshade attached to your head would cause you to relax and enjoy the ride, but apparently it can and does.
Then there’s T-touch, a massage technique invented by Linda Tellington-Jones, who literally built an acupressure empire around it. Originally designed for horses, she soon expanded the technique to dogs, cats and just about every critter on the planet that’s willing to sit or stand still long enough to be touched. She has numerous books and video courses on the topic and gives seminars all around the world.
But if you’re looking for faster results, especially after scrubbing and fumigating the car for the umpteenth time after taking your dog for a ride; you might try calming wear, that comes in many types and sizes.
Imagine a svelte, canine jacket that applies gentle, reassuring pressure to the entire body of the dog. As its name implies, these wraps and shirts can eliminate symptoms of anxiety caused by thunder, firecrackers, crowds and car travel.
Money Saving Tip
If you want to create a homemade version of a calming shirt, you can easily do so with an Ace Bandage and a couple of safety pins. The width and length of the bandage depends on the size of the dog, but the application is easy. You loosely stretch the bandage across your dog’s chest, pass it up and cross it over the withers, then down and under the belly and up to the back where you tie or pin the bandage somewhat to the side to keep direct pressure off the spine. Should our verbal instructions confound you, there are plenty of diagrams and videos on-line to guide you in both in the basic version and more ornate configurations.
Hopefully, these suggestions will allow your dog to become an everyday companion to your travels. After all, no one wants to leave their best friend behind when there’s a world waiting to be explored.