Car trips with your pooch can be a stressful time especially when they experience motion sickness. Motion sickness occurs mostly as a result of stress or anxiety and not necessarily due to motion.
Puppies, for example, can experience motion sickness due to the underdevelopment of the parts of the ear that are responsible for their balance. In adult dogs, it is usually due to lack of conditioning or unusual stimuli such as being driven in a car for the first time.
If your pooch only enters the car while going to the veterinarian, they may associate a car ride with pain, causing extreme stress. If a dog has had previous frightening experiences while on a car trip it may cause anxiety.
This may include the day they were taken away from home or taken to a shelter. Dramamine for dogs is one of the best choice drugs prescribed to manage motion sickness.
What is Dramamine?
Dramamine is an antihistamine drug prescribed to dogs to prevent and manage signs of motion sickness such as vomiting, nausea, dizziness, etc.
It contains diphenhydramine as the active ingredient. It works by inhibiting stimulation of the vestibular system of the brain located in the inner ear. The vestibular system is responsible for balance and detecting motion.
When overstimulated it often leads to nausea, dizziness, and loss of balance. Dramamine is approved by the Food and Drugs Administration for human use, but it is also used as an extra-label drug by veterinarians.
Dramamine can also be used to treat nausea that is not specific to motion sickness such as vestibular disease.
Can you give a dog Dramamine?
As much as Dramamine is prescribed for humans, it can also be given to dogs to treat motion sickness. The dosage, however, varies from humans and heavily depends on the age, size, and breed of the dog.
How much Dramamine can I give a dog?
Dramamine is usually sold over the counter but should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian. It is usually packaged as 50-milligram tablets or in a 50mg/ml injectable solution.
The dosage prescribed for dogs is 4 mg per pound (8mg/kg) three times a day. Treatment should be as per veterinarians instructions.
Make sure to finish the complete dose especially if treating for vestibular diseases to prevent relapse. For motion sickness, treatment is usually indicated until there is a response to the treatment.
In the event of adverse side effects stop administration and consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Side Effects of Dramamine
Dramamine can cause various adverse side effects even when prescribed by a veterinarian. Various factors should be put into consideration before using Dramamine on your dog.
- Avoid use if your dog has any hypersensitivity or elicits an allergic reaction to the drug.
- Always alert your veterinarian of any other drugs that your dog may be taking to avoid interactions that may be fatal. Common drugs that should not be given concurrently with Dramamine include heparin, tranquilizers, sedatives, etc.
- Caution should be observed while using Dramamine especially if your pet is suffering from glaucoma, stomach and urinary infections, prostate enlargement among others.
- It should completely be avoided in dogs with heart disease, epilepsy, high blood pressure or if your dog has an overactive thyroid.
Common adverse side effects observed include:
- Lack of appetite
Alternative therapies to treat car sickness
To lessen the chances of your dog getting motion sickness below are some tricks you can try while in the car.
- Make sure your dog is facing in front instead of looking out through the side windows. You can opt to use a travel crate to restrict his movement. It also has an added benefit of containing vomit in case he/she becomes nauseous.
- Limit the amount of food fed to your dog before travel. Giving a sugary treat before traveling can help to reduce nausea.
- Always remember to lower the windows while traveling. This helps to balance pressure both inside and outside the car which can make your dog feel nauseous and dizzy. Turn on the air conditioner to keep the air in the car cool and to reduce stuffiness which may also cause great discomfort to your dog.
If your dog has anxiety or is stressed by car rides
- Change vehicles to avoid your dog associating the car with an unpleasant experience
- Make frequent stops especially if going for a long road trip.
- Use positive reinforcement and give treats to enable your dog to associate car trips as a fun activity.
- Use toys that your dog especially loves only in the car so as to look forward to car trips.
- To help your dog get used to traveling in a car, practice short car trips to places he/she loves e.g. to the park
Homeopathic remedies such as the use of Cocculus and Aconitum have been shown to also reduce nausea, vomiting, and anxiety while traveling. Give 30cc 15 minutes before the travel then twice every 30 to 60 minutes as needed.
Flower essences such as Be Serene and Rescue Remedy used every 15 minutes as needed can also be of great help in managing anxiety and phobia for travel.
Motion sickness from car travel usually occurs as a result of anxiety, underdevelopment of the vestibular system in puppies less a year old, or due to infection of the inner ear or vestibular disease.
Many dogs get anxious during car rides due to previous bad experiences such as being taken to the vet or being driven to the shelter. Dramamine is a popular drug used to treat motion sickness in dogs.
It is not approved as a veterinary drug, therefore, should only be used under the strict guidance of a veterinarian. Disclose to your veterinarian any medical conditions your dog may be suffering from as well as any medication that he/she is on.
This will help avoid drug interactions as well as prevent exacerbating some life-threatening medical conditions. It is also helpful to help your dog associate car trips as a fun activity. Use treats and positive reinforcement and also make frequent short trips to places he/she loves.
Avoid giving a heavy meal before travel. Keep the air within the car cool by lowering the windows slightly or by turning on the AC. This will help prevent nausea.