Motion Sickness in a Dog

Car Trips can Improve
About 4 years ago we adopted a Lab/shepherd mix, Maggie. We’d love to take her places but anything other than a short trip to Grandma’s causes frothing at the mouth and eventual vomiting. Having the windows wide open seems to help. Is there any hope of being able to go several hours in the car without a catastrophe?

Dr. Nichol:
Poor Maggie’s motion sickness has her green behind the gills with vertigo as she drools copiously from nausea. This embarrassment has been visited upon her so many times that she now anticipates the misery of car rides, also known as travel anxiety. No amount of comforting will help. Maggie needs better living through modern chemistry.

The old standby is Dramamine (dimenhydrinate): give 1/2 tablet to a cat or small dog, a full tablet for medium sized dogs, 2 tablets to large dogs. Antivert, Bonine, D-Vert and Dramamine II are all brand names for meclizine – even better for many pets. Small dogs and cats should get one 12.5 mg tablet. Give two tablets to a medium or large dog. All of these work best if given about 40-60 minutes prior to firing up the family car. Don’t wait until Maggie is tossing her biscuits into the cup holders. Once the vestibular system of the inner ear is on the fritz only a couple of hours relaxing on the road side will reset the system.

A side benefit of the meclizine brands is mild sedation. But don’t confuse that with peace and tranquility. Maggie can be half conscious and still be a nervous wreck, just physically unable to act out her fear. You can help her genuinely relax by adding the quick acting antianxiety prescription medication lorazepam. To avoid excessive sedation I advise giving each of them at 1/2 of their recommended doses and then take nervous Nellie for a test drive an hour later. Depending on her response you can adjust the doses up or down for the next trip. Just don’t exceed dosage recommendations.

All regular pharmacies have the over-the-counter motion sickness remedies. Your veterinarian can prescribe lorazepam for Maggie. Please tell Grandma I said hi and that she can send cookies to the address below. I promise to share.