Motion Sickness in Dogs – Pet tip 234
There’s no understanding why it happens this way but some people are affected by motion sickness while others are immune. People suffering from motion sickness suffer the discomfort related to nausea and vomiting when the ‘motion’ becomes excessive. Normally motion sickness is associated with travel by land, air or boat. However it can also be caused by any non-regular body movement like being in an elevator or on an amusement park ride. Given that dogs and humans share many of the same diseases and ailments; it should come as no surprise that dogs too, can suffer from motion sickness. In fact it’s estimated that about 15% of dogs suffer from motion sickness.
When dogs suffer from motion sickness they too often feel nauseous and the nausea can lead to vomiting. Additionally, they may also exhibit other signs like whining, drooling, diarrhea and their behaviour may change as well; they may show signs of anxiety. If these signs regularly happen during or after the dog has been traveling, the likely culprit is motion sickness.
Motion sickness in both dogs and humans is related to the’ balance center’ located in the inner ear. This ‘balance center’ is connected to the zone in the brain that controls vomiting. When the balance center gets disrupted by irregular body movements (like being on a bumpy road) both people and dogs can get nauseous and vomit.
In dogs, this problem is normally solved with medication and/or conditioning. In terms of conditioning, many people get motion sickness when they go on a boat. The rocking motion upsets the balance center and we feel nauseous. As we take more frequent boat trips though, our bodies more easily adapt and the discomfort is often reduced or eliminated. Dogs travel in cars more often than boats, but the same principle applies. When the dog is a puppy, repeated short car trips that eventually lead to longer car trips can help desensitize the dog to the effects of the car’s motion. This can also be done with adult dogs but it’s easier with puppies.
Some dogs don’t respond well to conditioning though and veterinarian prescribed anti-nausea medication and/or tranquilizers (depending on the type of travel) can be used in these situations. In order to further reduce the chance of vomiting it makes good sense not to feed your dog for a few hours prior to the travel. Consult with your vet to get the proper advice tailored for your particular dog if your dog regularly shows signs of motion sickness.
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