A lot of dog and cat owners tell me how sick their animals get when traveling in a car. Some of the signs of a car-sick pet can be anything from whining to pacing to panting to passing gas to throwing up all over the place. Regardless of how a pet exhibits motion sickness, one thing is for sure………car rides are no fun.
When I’ve asked a car-sick pet what it feels like to ride in a car, they usually describe the trip as feeling that the whole car is spinning around. That feeling alone would be enough to make anyone, human or animal ill. But added to this spinning car feeling is the “blur” of what’s happening to the world outside of the car. As the car zips down the freeway doing 75 mph, Tucker, the German Shepherd is standing in the back while the rest of the family is talking, reading, playing video games or just lost in the beautiful scenery. From his vantage point in the way back of the car, Tucker does not see beautiful scenery nor does he feel relaxed. What he does see is a world outside the windows flying by so fast he can’t get a fix on anything……it’s all a blur. And what he’s experiencing inside the car is a winding, spinning out-of-control sensation that leaves him nauseated, out of breath and scared. Soon, much to the family’s dismay, he throws up. Everyone starts yelling at him, asking why he made such a mess. The kids are complaining about how much the car smells. Dad has to pull over to let everyone out, clean up the mess and air out the car….this could take a while. Finally, someone pays attention to Tucker…..asking him if he’s okay. He is now…..after all, the car has stopped and the world is back to normal. But, when the trip resumes, so does Tucker’s sick, spinning feeling. And the process repeats itself.
If you’ve ever been motion-sick, whether in a car, on a ride at the carnival or on a boat, you know how awful this feeling can be. Imagine how much worse it felt when you had no control over the situation……the person driving the car wouldn’t pull over, the carnival ride just got started and the operator wouldn’t stop it just for you or the rocking boat was way out on the lake with the waves bouncing the little vessel from one side to the other and the owner wouldn’t take you back to shore. You were stuck. But at least you could tell someone about it and maybe eventually, with enough pleading you convinced them to give you a break and stop the madness already!
Our pets don’t have that choice. They depend upon us to keep them safe and protect them from situations that might hurt them or scare them or make them sick. Unfortunately going for a car ride can be one of those situations. Therefore, we all need to pay attention to any signals our pets might be sending us when they’re riding in our cars. We can never assume that just because we want Fido to like going with us for a car ride that he will tolerate it without any problems. Sometimes what we want for our pets doesn’t always mesh with the reality of the situation.
There are many ways to try to help your pet if he/she does show signs of motion sickness…….the best person to ask about this is your pet’s Veterinarian.
Blessings to you and your pets….stay safe this holiday week-end and pay attention to your animals in motion.