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Does your pet feel sick (and vomit) when traveling by car?

February 10, 2023

Does your pet feel sick (and vomit) when traveling by car?

Motion sickness, a feeling of discomfort that occurs when traveling by car, is more common in puppies, but it can be prevented.

2023 is a year full of long holidays, such as Carnival, a perfect opportunity for trips with the family and pets. When some dogs see their owner pick up the car keys and approach the front door, they get extremely excited to “go for a ride”. For others, however, getting into a car is a torture, due to the many episodes of nausea and vomiting during the journey.

It is not on purpose! Just like humans, who often feel sick when reading in a moving vehicle, pets are sensitive to bumpy movements inside the car, which can trigger malaise and vomiting.

“This condition is called motion sickness. It arises from a slight conflict of the vestibular system, located in the inner ear and responsible for balance. When the brain detects that the environment is moving, but the individual is standing still, the vestibular system gets confused, promoting vertigo and causing nausea and vomiting”, states Taís Motta Fernandes, veterinary doctor and product manager at Avert Saúde Animal.

According to Taís, puppy dogs are the ones that suffer the most from motion sickness.

“The neural center for nausea control is not fully formed in puppies, which increases the incidence of nausea and vomiting. Over time, these episodes usually become rarer, but can still occur in animals of any age”, explains she.

For families with more sensitive pets, a simple trip can become a nightmare and the journey a stressful moment. After all, you are unable to know exactly when the pet will feel sick, but such events can be avoided.

Watch out for excess movement and temperature

When traveling with a pet, it is important to be alert to two factors: excessive vehicle movement (many curves on the road, frequent lane changes, sudden speed increases and decreases) and temperature inside the car.

Mostly, these two factors account for the pet's discomfort.

“It is impossible to eliminate the curves in the road or even fully control the flow of traffic; especially when traveling on long holidays, but when we decide to travel with a pet, we must forget the rush and avoid scheduling appointments. If you intend to arrive early, you must leave early. Avoid overtaking and excessive speed on the road”, warns Taís.

When temperature inside the car is high, the pet has greater difficulty to relieve body heat, even with the windows opened. “On very hot days, the animal tends to hyperventilate in order to regulate the body temperature. If it is too hot inside the car, this temperature regulation becomes difficult, aggravating hyperventilation and, consequently, causing the animal's vomiting. Therefore, to travel in very hot periods, it is preferable to take the road at the beginning of the day or after sunset. If it is not possible to leave at these times and the vehicle does not have air conditioning to control temperature, it is important to prioritize air circulation for the pet”, recommends she.

Good practices during the journey

Some procedures to be taken during the journey can help ensuring that the journey is neither traumatic for the pets, who may feel sick, nor for humans, who need to deal with a dirty car, as the consequence of the pet's discomfort.

When trips are long (more than 2 hours), it is important to schedule some stops for the pet to get out of the vehicle and stretch its paws, relieve itself and move around. This movement in a new place can help stopping the nausea for a while. Providing a little water for the pet is also important to keep it hydrated.

During the trip, it is also important to remember that the pet has more sensitive ears than humans, so loud music in the car with a pet can be very unpleasant for the furry one, cause stress or anxiety, which can also give rise to vomiting. Keeping the radio volume at a reasonable level, where you can hear what someone else is saying without having to shout is best suited for traveling with a pet.

How to prevent motion sickness from happening?

Adult pets rarely vomit in the car, but other signs also indicate that they are feeling the effects of motion sickness, such as excessive salivation, heavy breathing, whining and apathy.

“It is very important to pack the pet in a well-ventilated transport case suitable for the size and weight of the animal, or fast it to the safety belt specific for pets. These accessories help preventing the animal from moving around the vehicle, which can make it feel sick. Another point is to avoid feeding the pet at least 2 hours before the trip, because the car movement allied to a full stomach is the perfect combination for causing vomit”, explains Tais.

Vomiting in puppies and senior animals is more serious, as they are more susceptible to dehydration. “Pets with heart disease, undergoing treatment, also require special attention in cases of vomiting, because even a mild dehydration can affect the proper functioning of the heart and cause other problems. When malaise is recurrent or the pet is in the conditions mentioned above, ondansetron-based drugs, which act on the prevention of nausea, can be indicated by the vet, to ensure a safe and pleasant trip for the whole family,” concludes she.

Any medication to be given to the pet must be previously indicated and prescribed by the veterinary doctor, and used as recommended for that specific animal. Medicating the pet without the proper indication can cause serious damage to health.

About Avert Saúde Animal

Avert Saúde Animal is a division of the innovative pharmaceutical company Biolab and has been operating in the veterinary market since 2013 committed to collaborating on access to the best pharmaceutical practices for the continuous development of Brazilian veterinary medicine. Its product line includes medicines, nutraceuticals and dermocosmetics for dogs and cats. Its investment in production technologies and search for innovation in health and well-being of animals is constant. Access:www.avertsaudeanimal.com.br

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