An enjoyable trip to spend the holidays with family can turn into a miserable experience if your client's dog suffers from
car sickness. Dogs can vocalize, drool, vomit, urinate, and defecate if they're uncomfortable in a moving car.
Once you've ruled out a vestibular disorder, you can focus on whether your patient is suffering from motion sickness or anxiety.
Often, simply withholding food before traveling can eliminate the problem. Anti-motion-sickness and anti-emetic drugs can
be successful if the patient suffers from motion sickness. There are numerous methods for treating anxiety cases, but for
a long-term solution, the dog must be desensitized. Here's one method you can share with clients who have anxious dogs.
1. Put the dog in the car, but don't start it. Praise the dog and offer a small treat for positive behavior.
2. Turn the car on. If the dog shows no signs of distress, slowly drive up and down the driveway, then around the block.
3. Gradually increase time spent in the car. Continue offering praise and treats for positive behavior.
This process may take weeks or even months of daily training. It may take some trial and error, but most dogs will respond
to treatment. Pretty soon, they'll be riding happily in the car on vacation—or even to your clinic for wellness care.
—Dr. Mike Andress, Gate City Animal Hospital; Greensboro, N.C.