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Vehicle Anxiety

While many dogs find car rides a thrilling experience, others find it sheer terror. Part of this may be due to motion sickness. Fear of the unknown may also play a role. There is hope in both cases.

Drive away the fear

Have a full Vet exam to rule out medical causes, such as an inner ear problem. Impaired vision or anything that causes dizziness can also lead to motion sickness. If there is a medical issue, the Veterinarian may prescribe something to help your dog cope with car rides. There are other steps you can take as well to ease your dog's nausea. Don't let her eat a meal before getting in the car. However, a little ginger may help to settle her stomach. Ginger cookies have a double benefit of both easing nausea and teaching her to associate getting in the car with getting a yummy treat!

Work on desensitizing her to car rides gradually. First, just put her in the car but don't go anywhere. Once she is responding calmly to getting in the car and not riding, go on to the next step. Drive just around the block. When she is ok with that, start taking longer and longer rides. Finally, make sure that the car sometimes takes her somewhere fun, like the park, lake, or beach. This will help her to associate car rides with something pleasant - something that isn't possible if the only time she gets in the car, she winds up at the Vet's office!
Also, you can try scenting the car with lavendar essential oil. Studies have shown that this has a calming effect on dogs in the car.

Additional Resources

Desensitization to car rides

Desensitization for more severe cases

Anxiety in dogs Main Page
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