Obviously I am not feeding before a long journey. She is a confident dog and copes with new situations well, so could it be stress related? Should I increase the dosage to a whole tablet of Quells? Will she improve after her first season?
I have had dogs for nearly 40 years but she is the first bitch. Does this make a difference?
Any comments much appreciated.
Margaret, by email
Alison Logan, vet, advises…
To start at the end, I really think the sex makes no difference. We had prided ourselves on never having a car sick dog until we travelled a puppy back from Wales who had been fed just beforehand, threw up after an hour and then was sick whenever she – yes, she was female – travelled in the car until she was about a year old.
That was many years ago. Our twelve year old Labrador bitch (female again!) was also sick if she had been fed within two hours of travelling, and her first journey in a car was just five minutes to our home. Again, she did grow out of it by the time she was a year old.
The fact that your dog can travel up to ten miles is a very positive sign and one that I would use to your advantage. Try to keep all your journeys below that magic distance, with a pleasant experience at the end. The more times she can travel without being sick, the more she will become confident in the car. Then, after about two to four weeks, venture a little further afield, but not by much and, again, with a walk or other positive experience at the destination. Gradually build up the distance, always going back one step if she shows signs of queasiness. The key is to avoid her actually starting to feel ill. She needs to travel and enjoy the journey to a treat as many times as possible.
Think also about where she travels in the car. Is she always sick when she travels or only in a particular car, or with a particular driver? Being able to see out often helps, so that the eyes can feed back information to the brain to correlate with motion information. This is why reading in a car can make people nauseous – the eyes are saying that the world is static because the words are not moving, whilst the middle ear and motion centres are detecting the movement of the car: conflict results in travel sickness.
Kwells contain hyoscine hydrobromide and are, as you rightly say, for travel sickness in humans. They are not licensed for dogs. There is a veterinary licensed drug for canine travel sickness which would be worth considering if you had to make a long journey before you were able to build up to that distance. There are also herbal remedies, and Dog Appeasing Pheromone spray or collar.
Do try to keep positive about this – avoid building it up in your mind because your dog will pick up on your anxiety which may then reinforce the problem.