The only way to cure motion sickness is to face the situation head-on, do not avoid – if you avoid taking your dog in the car because of motion sickness your dog will never normalize the experience. Patience, determination, repetition is the only way to cure this condition.
My dog, Jordie (a German Shepherd x Alaskan Malamute) is an excellent example of how you can cure motion sickness in your dog. Like people, some dogs just acquire motion sickness. Jordie is a rescue from Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Iqaluit is a northern climate where these dogs are used as sled dogs. Spay and neuter is not commonly practiced – there are many unwanted litters of puppies. When no one wants the puppies they are shot to death. Jordie and his litter mates were to be shot – the rescue group that I fostered for found someone willing to fly the puppies out the day before they were to be shot. The next day Jordie joined my pack. The entire litter were sick on the flight out of Iqaluit – they were only 10 weeks old, stressed, underfed. As a result Jordie developed a severe case of motion sickness.
On the way home after I picked Jordie up he threw-up in the car. It was August, 30o Celsius, this poor little guy had spent his entire 10 weeks of life up north in deep cold, he had been neglected, flown on a plane and now put in a car!
The next time I took Jordie for a ride in the car he threw-up again. The third time I put Jordie in the car he started to pant, drool and foam at the mouth and then proceeded to throw-up. I realized that I would have to cure Jordie of motion sickness and an aversion to traveling.
When Jordie sensed I was getting ready to take him for a ride in the car he hid. I would go looking for him – I would find him in his hiding spot drooling, foaming, ears down. I knew that if I gave in and did not make him go through the repeated experience of riding in the car he would never be cured. So I persisted in taking Jordie with me in the car.
As Jordie associated travel with stress I needed to show him that travel was OK…with patience and persistence Jordie became comfortable with vehicles and the symptom of his travel stress – motion sickness disappeared. I took a full year to normalize the experience for him. With time he stopped throwing-up and only drooled and foamed, eventually that stopped too.
Because dogs live in the moment it is easier to change a dog’s association of a situation than it is a human’s. Humans carry grudges, dogs do not. Dogs form associations with places, things, animate and inanimate objects. Dogs are very forgiving and treat each day, each experience as a new beginning if you give them the support that they require. Make the future different than the past. You must let the past go – must not anticipate that the past will and must repeat itself– let it go from your mind. Envision a new future in which you forget about what has happened before and focus instead on what you would like to happen – a nice peaceful ride in the car with your dog.
When you change your thoughts from negative to positive you relax – this allows your dog to do the same. You are leading by the right example. Your will must be stronger than your dogs, your must have greater patience and determination.
If your dog does not want to go out to the car then you will need to take control of the situation. Leadership is an active state. If you have called your dog and your dog will not come, goes to hide (your dog realizes it is being asked to go out for a ride in the car) you need to go get your dog. Reading this article ‘Does Your Puppy or Dog Shut Down and Refuse to Walk‘ will help you understand how to get your dog back into motion!
Don’t give-in to your dog’s resistance to go in the car. When Jordie hid, I went and got him. If you have to bring your dog over to the door and out to the car with a leash do it! But make sure your attitude and state of being is that of a true leader or you will further traumatize your dog. Reading this article ‘Is Your Dog Anxious / Over Excited in the Car’ will help you understand how to work with your dog to reduce car ride anxiety.
Once you have read the two articles indicated above you will have a thorough protocol on how to move forward. The following provides the balance of information you require to work this cure.
One – When ever possible, don’t feed your dog any food at least an hour prior to a going for a drive in the car;
Two – Do not put your dog in the front seat – this usually makes their motion sickness worse! Put them in the back seat or back cargo space – you can also use a crate in the car;
Three – Make sure you cover your car seat and floor with old linen sheets that you can rinse and throw in the wash – you can also under-layer the linen with towels for better absorption. Bring extra linen and extra towels – when your dog does throw-up you can change the seat cover or crate liner and put fresh linen out. Extra towels can also be used to wipe your doggies face! If your dog drools and foams at the mouth you are going to need towels to wipe that up too. Bring a large plastic bag that you can toss the dirty linen into.
Four – If you are giving your dog a natural rescue remedy make sure you read the instructions – some need to be given well in advance of he car ride (i.e. an hour prior to getting into the car).
Five – don’t be upset if your dog throws-up – adjust your expectations – this is going to take repeated trips to cure. Gradually he stopped throwing-up but he still made a mess drooling and foaming at the mouth! After a year Jordie was cured of motion sickness.
Remember patience and understanding is key! Just like people, every dog will progress at it’s own pace some faster, some slower. Many people give-in and give-up too soon.
Your ability to affect change in your dog is dependent on your leadership skillsand your awareness of how you and communicate. As your skill grows, your ability to affect change will too!
In combination with the methodology above you can also try using ginger to help ease your dog’s nausea.
You can use a slice of fresh or dry ginger root or pills that are made of pure ginger. Dogs do like the taste of ginger so they will usually readily accept a slice. If you are using fresh or dry ginger only give a small piece as a lot is not required. Ginger is mostly harmless to your dog so it’s hard to overdose. If you want to use ginger, give your puppy the ginger about 30 minutes before you are ready to go in the car. If you are using ginger in pill form the dosage is100 mg/25 lbs (every 8 hours).
You can also make ginger cookies or ginger snaps – one cookie would suffice for a puppy, for a larger dog one or two cookies. The nice thing about ginger is that it is all natural. The ability of the ginger to alleviate nausea and vomiting is famous, and whatever the cause, such sensations are easily dispensed with when the ginger remedies are used.
Some people say you can also give your dog black jelly beans. The flavor of black jelly beans and black licorice is derived from fennel. The more expensive versions will use real fennel, where as cheaper versions use artificial flavour. Don’t use jelly beans as the amount of fennel (if it is present at all) is overpowered by the amount of sugar – concentrated amounts of sugar will increase the likelihood of nausea and vomiting. Fennel (or licorice root is its other name) is a vegetable – one that my rabbits and dogs both like, however to be affective to prevent vomiting due to nervousness, it is best combined with catnip. I would, however stick with ginger…you can use ginger on its own and it is more effective. The carminative (ability to expel gas) action enabled by fennel is effective to relieve flatulence and is the primary reason for the use of fennel in herbal medicine. So even though the herbal remedy made from fennel is used as a remedy in treating a variety of other ailments, its main use is in dealing with flatulence and excess abdominal gas.
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