Monday, December 8, 2014

Traveling with a #Dog Who Gets Car Sick - Motion Sickness in Pets

Otis's picture on Petfinder -
How could I resist?
Whenever we're able to add a new pet to our family, we adopt--often, via the website Petfinder, which does a great job of allowing you to search for homeless animals that would be a good fit in terms of age, breed, and personality.  I often try to rescue the older dogs, since they have more trouble getting adopted, but a few years ago a search for a Border Collie mix turned up Otis, a puppy who'd been found on the side of the road in Alabama.  For more on his story, click here.

As his foster mom nursed him back to health, it became clear the car trips to the vet were a bit of a problem...he usually got nauseated and vomited.  We hoped it was a puppy thing that he would outgrow, especially since we are a family that loves to travel with our dogs.  Short trips to hiking trails, beaches, and lakes, as well as seriously long trips to visit family and friends.

Both his foster mom and I fretted about his long trip up north on the doggie rescue transport, but he did okay.  He was probably too keyed up to eat much, with so many other excited dogs headed to forever homes.  Once my husband picked him up (still two hours from home), he collapsed on his lap and slept that way the entire ride to our house.

But he didn't outgrow this affliction, which was a shame.  He wanted to drive to school with me to pick up the kids, but he'd throw up.  He loved the dog park, but I'd have a big mess to clean up from just a 15 minute ride.  At least twice a year, we drive eight hours to where I grew up, and dogs are always welcome on our visits.  But we had to leave him behind, which he didn't like--he's part of our "pack", and he prefers to be with us.  Not to mention, it's expensive.  We'd rather only go through all that when there's no other solution.

I talked to the vet.  I asked the women who come to my fitness classes who have dogs.  I got lots of thoughts on how to make it work, and last spring, we decided to bring him along on our semi-annual trip.

Otis got to play with our friends'
boxer, Zoe - fast friends!
Success!  My dog who usually can't tolerate 10 minutes in the car made an eight hour trip without getting sick!  He was fine on the way home as well.  And we just did the trip again, for Thanksgiving, with equal success.  So I'm going to share what worked for us, with the giant reminder that I AM NOT A VET. I'm a romance author.  And a fitness instructor.  But I'm also an animal lover, and maybe this info can help someone having the same problem.  Just remember to ask your vet, as I did, since giving medication to animals is serious business.

Dramamine never worked for us.  Our vet suggested Bonine, which I'd never heard of.  It's another medication for motion sickness, the active ingredient being Meclizine, as opposed to Dimenhydrinate.  Otis weighs about 30 pounds, I gave him one 25 mg. tab an hour before we left, and again halfway through the trip.

We gave him a dose of Benadryl at the same times.  While most people recognize this as an allergy medicine for people, it can be used for motion sickness in pets.  The usual dosage is 1 mg per pound. So Otis received a 25 mg. tablet.

Then, we built a large perch in the back of the SUV for him to sit on.  He does better when he can sit forward, looking out the window.  We stacked luggage, secured it with bungee cords, and covered it with a blanket to make it comfortable and to protect the bags.

More fun!  Otis with my father's
rescue dog, Fiona
I expected the Benadryl to make him tired, but he stayed awake the entire time.  But he's a pretty energetic dog.  When I had him neutered, the vet told me to "keep him quiet" for a few days.  An hour later, he was tearing around the yard, ignoring my demands to calm down.

However, he was relaxed for the entire trip, and each time we gave him a little walk during our stops, he hopped right back in the car willingly.  After all, he wants to be with his pack...and I'm grateful we found a way to make that happen.

Personally, I love car trips...I can read in the car without feeling sick, so for me, the longer the ride, the better!  Once you've got your luggage packed and your four-legged family members ready, make sure you have a good book for your travels!  Try steamy romance mixed with haunting mysteries in SILVER LAKE or GULL HARBOR, or check out my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL for forbidden love and supernatural secrets.  Have a safe & enjoyable ride :)

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