How do I get my puppy to enjoy trips in the car?

For many puppies a car ride produces a great deal of anxiety.  A combination of fear and not understanding what is happening causes drooling, shaking, or even vomiting.  Smells, such as those of food or petrol and anxiety about sickness can also cause symptoms.

In humans, we refer to this as car sickness or motion sickness; however, true motion sickness is a result of an inner ear problem.  Some dogs truly do have motion sickness, and for these animals pharmaceutical products can be used under the supervision of a veterinarian.  For most dogs, however, the sickness is strictly an over reaction to the fear and apprehension of the car noise and motion. 

A puppy should get used to the car while he is still young and more receptive to new adventures.   Start with very short journeys to get him used to the sensation.  Wind the window down part way so that he has plenty of fresh air but cannot escape or fall or put his head out of the window.  Make sure that there is something exciting for him to enjoy at the end of the trip so that he begins to look forward to car trips.

It is a good idea not to feed your puppy six to eight hours before a car trip.  Having an empty stomach will make him less likely to throw up.  Giving your pet water won't upset his stomach and may help him feel more comfortable.

These are some products that can help.  The aim is to prevent a puppy learning that the car will make him feel sick.

  • Bach Rescue Remedy can help your puppy cope with the stress of car travel.  Bach remedies are flower essences which aim to heal mental and emotional states.   Rescue Remedy helps alleviate stress in everyday situations and in times of crisis or trauma.  Place a few drops on his tongue before travelling.   Bach essences are also available from your pharmacy.
  • Ginger or peppermint remedies alleviate nausea. Ginger can be taken as a biscuit or tea while peppermint can be given as a sweet or taken as a tea.
  • A few drops of peppermint oil on his collar helps relieve nausea.  Be careful because peppermint oil can irritate the skin and the sensitive tissue of the eyes, nose, and mouth.  It should not be taken internally.
  • Travel Calm Ginger is a product made from ginger which helps alleviate nausea caused by travel sickness.  Travel Calm Ginger is made by Blackmores and is available from chemists, health food stores and supermarkets.    Give your puppy a quarter or half tablet around half an hour before travelling.

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