IT’S A VET’S LIFE: Avoid holiday trips sickness

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This Christmas and New Year many of you will be visiting friends and relatives, but just like us not all pets are good travellers.

Car sickness is more common in younger dogs than adults because parts of the inner ear involved in balance aren’t fully developed.

Puppies will often “outgrow” motion/car sickness by the time they’re about one year old.

Many adult dogs become anxious or even nauseous during travel due to a lack of car association and the overwhelming unusual stimuli associated with moving inside a vehicle.

Dogs that travel only once or twice a year (typically when visiting the vet) aren’t used to car rides and often associate the car ride with the stressful experience that follows. This causes heightened anxiety and stress, which can result in vomiting and diarrhoea.

Puppies that experience traumatic or frightening first rides may also associate future travel with that stressful event.

Helping your dog overcome the stress and anxiety of travel will mean that your pet can accompany you on trips more frequently, without sickness or diarrhoea and so result in a nice experience for both parties.

If you think your dog is going to vomit, stopping the car (in a safe place) and taking your pet for a little walk may help temporarily relieve the symptoms.

TRAVELLING TIPS

* Start by simply placing your dog in your car either in a harness or a good travel cage and sitting there without moving for a few minutes.

* The next day, repeat this process, but this time start the engine. Don’t move the car!

* Then the next day repeat the process again. Move a little distance in the car but no more than a mile. Then return.

* Be sure to praise your dog and offer a reward for good behaviour.

* Next, try a slightly longer trip.

* Gradually work your way up to riding comfortably for 20 to 30 minutes.

Another tip is to withhold food for 12 hours before travel. An empty stomach will help reduce nausea and the need for frequent toilet breaks.

Question:

Here at Vetsavers we are loving receiving your questions.

James Caborn of Spalding, is planning a party at New Year and would like to have fireworks.

He wrote: “I’d like to have fireworks party but am worried about upsetting my dog. Do you have any tips?”

ANSWER:

Whether it’s a cat or dog, it’s best to keep your pets indoors when there is likely to be fireworks nearby. Make them comfortable in their “safe area” – such as a crate or carry case.

Calming tablets and aromatherapy plug-ins are also available for extreme cases of anxiety if you pop into the vets.