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How to Make Your Pets Like Car Rides: Solving Car Sickness (Part 1)

Let’s face it: pets and vehicles don’t mix–at least not in the beginning. There are three possible reasons for this: car sickness, a sense of unfamiliarity, and negative past experiences (fear) that they often associate with every time they ride a car.

These three are the most common ones experienced by dog and cat owners, and they all have one thing in common: it can be extremely frustrating and annoying to see pets causing a commotion (and mess) inside the vehicle. Still, there are ways to make them tolerate–if not enjoy–car rides. Here are ways to do this:

Car Sickness / Motion Sickness

Car sickness–or motion sickness–is often caused by middle- or inner- ear imbalance or infections, causing them to drool and feel nauseous. It can also be triggered by stressful conditions, like extreme heat inside the vehicle.

Here are some ways to prevent them from happening:

1) Put your pets in a crate. Yes, we know how nice it is for your pets to roam free inside and feel the wind on their faces, but this is not the movies. Placing your pet in a crate assures that they don’t get into possible accidents, like jumping off the window, or accidentally releasing your parking brakes.

Besides, there’s a psychological reason why you should keep them in crates. These confined spaces may look “claustrophobic” to humans, but they’re actually comforting to many animals–especially if the crate is enclosed in all sides. It generally makes them feel safer, and lessens their anxiety in the process.

2) Don’t feed your pet a few hours before you travel–twelve hours is ideal. However, if it’s a long trip, you can provide water bottles inside their crate so they can take a sip from time to time.

3) Add a bit of fresh air inside by lowering the car windows a few inches. It’s also good to keep the interiors cool to keep them from getting overheated (and dehydrated).

4) Make it quiet as possible. Remember that their ears are far more sensitive to noise compared to humans. So no Linkin’ Park squealing crazily in full blast.

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5) Train your pets slowly by building up their tolerance to car rides. This means gradually increasing the distance and duration of their stay inside the vehicle. For instance, you can first sit in the car and play with them at first. Once they’re comfortable, you can now drive them around the block for less than a minute.

By the way, make sure to give them treats as soon as you get home (and stop the engine). You can build this to a three-minute drive, five-minutes, then seven minutes–until you reach a full 30-60 minutes without stopping your vehicle.

There are times when you really can’t control things, and you end up with your pet drooling or vomiting. If it’s their first (or even second or third time) inside your vehicle, make sure to look for the first few signs of drooling saliva, and stop over. Let them walk around and do their business if need be. And don’t forget to add an extra 30+ minutes in your travel time for these “pet stops” to occur.

TIP: You can also give them medications when needed, although you need to seek your veterinarian’s advice first. Bring anti-nausea medications like Dramamine, Gravol, Dramamine II, Antivert, Bonine, or Cerenia.  Stressed out pets can also benefit from taking Xanax.

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