Your Pup's Stomach vs. Your Car: Preventing the Puke


FIDO Blog | Jun 26, 2015

Urgent Editorial Warning: We talk about PUKE. A lot. We use code words, real words. Icky words. If you are sensitive to this subject matter, grab a bucket. Or, better yet, have someone with a strong stomach give you the putrid highlights.

Dear Sip and Melissa:

My dog gets car sick whenever we go in the car. (She’s an 80-pound Heinz 57 so that’s a lot of barf to clean.) She loves the park but I hate making her miserable every time we head for the car. Help!

Tim from Evanston, IL

(Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half)

Melissa:  First, I’m really sorry about your doggie. I’m also really sorry for you. Cleaning ‘revisited lunch’ isn’t something that anyone wants to do. It’s already too late when you hear that telltale “hrgh... hrugh... hrugh…”

Sip: You okay, Melissa?

Melissa: Hrgh.

(Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half)

Sip: I’ll take that as a yes.  Let’s start with prevention - because preventing “praying to the porcelain water bowl” while on the road is a major plus. Drugs are definitely one solution for those dogs that experience car-sickness. Just like people, Dramamine may help, and so might a product specifically for dogs called Cerenia. One might be more effective for your pup than the other. You’ll need to contact your vet to get the right dose, and in the case of Cerenia, have it dispensed for you since it’s a prescription. The amount to give for any medication is based on your dog’s weight, so don’t guess and don’t assume the human dose is your dog’s dose.

Melissa: There’s also a pill called Acepromazine, but that’s usually one to avoid.

Sip: I agree. Here’s why. If your dog isn’t anxious on car rides, but just pukey, Acepromazine can act as an anti-nausea drug. However, Acepromazine is primarily a tranquilizer and does not actually make your dog feel calm.  So, I’m not a fan of Acepromazine for car rides (or other potentially stressful situations), because you might be making your dog look relaxed and loosie-goosie when inside he’s stressed to the gills. Better to treat the root cause! Training can be a big help, for example.

Melissa: That’s where I come in. Anxiety is something that can happen when a dog is expecting to get sick in a car. I’d be nervous, too, if I thought I’d hurl each time I went for a ride. If there is an anxiety component, start with slow car rides, short distances to somewhere fun. If a dog has a history of tossing his doggy-cookies, you might have compound issues; anxiety and sickness can occur together, so you may need to work with a vet and a trainer.

Many of my clients swear by homeopathic remedies to keep the dog biscuits down. What’s the science on that?

Sip: Unfortunately, most homeopathic remedies will probably not help. But there is one trick some folks say can make a difference, and that’s giving a little ginger or a few ginger snaps. It’s safe in reasonable amounts, and ginger has been shown to have some anti-barf qualities in people, at least anecdotally. But don’t give too many, or you might be sniffing “ginger puke” for the rest of your ride.

Melissa: In fact, ginger snaps worked for me on my honeymoon! My husband and I were on a boat called… wait for it… the SS Tranquility. Yea, right. The boat was so tippy, and I was really at risk of… a most unladylike situation.

Sip: Let’s stop here, before our readers’ stomachs get not-so-tranquil. We're hoping this helps you out, Tim. And until you figure out what's causing your dog's carsickness, we've got more advice on how to clean up and prevent lingering smells, right here.

"Tranquility my ass. I was SO sick. Like anyone reading this blog post." (Melissa McCue)

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