Although these may appear as one in the same, they are solved very differently. If you have a dog that vomits, drools, paces, or whines in the car the first step you need to do is figure out whether it is true car-sickness or car-anxiety.
Car-anxiety is much more common. This occurs when a dog is so worried about riding in the car they develop symptoms that are much like motion sickness. They may vomit, whine, excessively drool, pace around the car, or flat out refuse to get in. This can happen when a dog has had a bad experience in the car, not enough experience, or has just not been properly introduced to car rides. One of the easiest ways to tell if your dog is suffering from car-anxiety is do they get upset BEFORE they even get in the car?? Some dogs will worry so much about a car ride, when they even pick up on the notion it is going to happen, they start making themselves sick with worry.
Car-sickness occurs after the dog is in the car and it is moving. These symptoms are no different than anxiety. Puppies tend to be much more susceptible to motion sickness than adult dogs -usually by 1 year old they will have outgrown it. If this is the issue your veterinarian can give you a prescription to help with motion sickness called Cerenia.
What can you do to help your dog with car-anxiety? This will take some time and patience, but it is possible! Introduce your dog to the car while it is off and not running, give lots of treats, and let that be it for the first few times. Slowly work up to the car being on and parked, then take very short trips (like to the end of the street and back) and work your way up to longer trips. This is a great example of where treats or toys can be very beneficial as a reward. We want to teach your dog that a car ride is nothing worth worrying about.
And of course – this is certainly something we can help you with at . We want your dog to be happy, healthy, and excited to go places with you!