Prevention & Treatment Of Pet Car Sickness
By Haley Thomas
Motion sickness is common in both dogs and cats, however most pet owners will readily agree that cats are the most prone to becoming violently ill while in a vehicle. Most cats will have some reaction to travel that can include howling, meowing, foaming at the mouth, vomiting and turning into nervous wrecks at the sight of the carrier and the car. Dogs, as a whole, tend to be more accepting of car travel and typically learn to adjust very well to traveling, even learning what the jingle of keys means. It is possible that cats can learn to enjoy being in a car, however most cat owners don't usually worry if the cat doesn't travel well as they typically are only in the vehicle when they are on the way to the vets.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that puppies and kittens are the easiest to desensitize to being in a car, so the earlier you start and the more positive you make the first few car trips the more likely your pet will accept and even look forward to those outings. Get your pet, either puppy or kitten, used to getting into the car. With the car parked safely, hold the little one on your lap in the passenger seat or back seat, give a few treats and lots of praise and attention. Don't even have the car going at first, just get them used to the physical aspects of the vehicle. When they are comfortable with that, take very short trips, even just around the block, providing lots of treats and praise for just getting into the vehicle and remaining in it while you go around the block. Always have someone in the vehicle with you to hold and manage the puppy or kitten while you are driving, don't try to do it on your own. With puppies or dogs you can also make the park, beach or countryside a short stop on the trip, building in some exercise and a reward the dog is sure to enjoy.
Always make sure that before you put a puppy or a kitten in the vehicle they have had a chance to go to the bathroom. If you are scheduling the car rides, make sure they are at least one hour after eating and after the dog or kitten has eliminated. In addition don't allow the puppy or kitten to drink immediately before getting into the car, rather try to have them on an empty stomach to prevent any messes.
The puppy, kitten or adult dog or cat should always be in some type of a safety restraint while in the vehicle. This means a crate or seat belt, but never just loose in the vehicle. Dogs or cats that are motion sick or anxious will naturally try to crawl under the driver's legs or get up on their lap, posing a serious distraction and a potential accident in the making.
If you have tried everything discussed above and your dog or cat is still really stressed in the vehicle or seems to be sick while traveling, talk to your vet. There are some prescriptions medications that will help to relieve the anxiety by sedating the pet, which can help them overcome their fear. In addition herbal remedies are now available on the market if you don't want to use medications. Like all non-prescription treatments they are largely unregulated and may or may not be effective for your pet.