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When temperatures rise, the open road calls. But what’s a road trip without your bestie riding shotgun (buckled up, of course)? For some dogs, the thought of motoring makes them queasy. If the idea of scraping your dog’s lunch off your back seat doesn’t thrill you, read on. Car sickness in pets can take many forms. For some, vomiting lets you know they’re not doing so well. Others have more subtle signs; that’s because car sickness and anxiety go hand in hand. The memory of one queasy ride can stick in your pet’s head, causing anxiety at the mere thought of riding again. Think about it — if a roller coaster made you feel terrible, I doubt you’d ride it again. The same thing is true for your pet! The key to treating car sickness is to figure out if it is caused by motion or anxiety. Motion sickness occurs when there is a discrepancy between what the brain perceives (sitting still in a car) and what the body is actually doing (being hurtled through space at 60+ mph). Drooling, vomiting and diarrhea all follow. Over time, this sickness becomes a learned experience and can morph into anxiety. The best way to treat car sickness is to prevent it from happening in the first place, starting with your pet’s very first car ride. Crack a window to let in fresh air, and attach their harness, car seat or crate so they have a forward-facing view. Trips on an empty stomach tend to go better, so withhold food for a few hours before an excursion. Take frequent short trips to get your pet used to car rides, and be sure to visit fun places! If the only time you rode in the car was to go to the doctor (or some other scary place), I bet you’d feel a bit anxious, too. If anxiety is to blame for your pet’s distress, you need to work on desensitization. Start by having her jump in the car, then right back out. Praise her with treats, kind words and belly rubs. Increase the amount of time she spends in the car until she’s comfortable. Then try turning the car on and right back off, and treat her well for staying calm. When she’s able to tolerate a running car, take a short drive around the block. Baby stepping toward a longer road trip is the goal. If at any point she feels uncomfortable, back up and spend more time on the last step. Stubborn sickness or anxiety may need medication. For vomiting motion sickness, ask your vet about Cerenia® (maropitant) and over-the-counter drugs like meclizine and Benadryl®. For pups who suffer from anxiety, benzodiapenes can make a world of difference. This spring, before you put the top down and hit the open road, make sure your furry companion feels as good as you do! roll with it


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