Saturday, January 22, 2011

CPCRN Advice for Motion Sickness

We frequently transport dogs who display motion sickness during the trip.  Here is some tried and true advice for that condition.

Do not feed the dog within 3 hours prior to a car ride but make sure he has plenty of water to stay hydrated.  A water bowl, half filled with water and frozen overnight so as to provide one huge ice cube is wonderful in this situation.  Symptoms of travel sickness may include drooling, repeated swallowing, vomiting, panting, and/or diarrhea. Severe vomiting can lead to dehydration and death in dogs, especially in mill dogs which are not in good health to start with.  Take plenty of paper towels or newspapers to shove under him if he starts to vomit (IF this can be done with the car doors and windows firmly shut).  Don’t forget: IT IS BETTER TO HAVE A SOILED CRATE than to risk the possibility of a dog breaking loose during transport.

To prevent this dog from getting sick when you take him in the car, you can administer an over-the-counter, human, motion sickness drug by the name of Bonine, Meclizine (Meclizine Hydrochloride or Meclizine HCL) or Antivert (these are all different names for the same drug). These drugs are usually sold as 25 mg tablets. For puppies under 10 pounds, you can give 6.25 to 12.5 mg (1/4 to 1/2 tablet if 25 mg tablet); 10-20 pounds give 12 to 25 mg (1/2 to 1 tablet if 25 mg. tablet); and over 20 pounds, one whole 25 mg tablet, one hour before going for the car ride.  Kathie R called Poison Control on a trip with a very car sick dog just to be sure this was safe.  She was told that it was hard to overdose on this by giving many times the amount so I would go with the larger amount where two are given.

This medication is good for 24 hours and it does not make the dog sleepy or dopey.  Karen P hint: Bonine can be given the night before and again in the MORNING BEFORE TRAVEL... for a pup YOU KNOW gets sick! That way if you forget the AM  DOSE…they already have some in their system.
Bonnie B hint:  When I help to “dress” OH auction kids going to Oz they get a dose of bonine for their little 
tummies.  I know they're terrified of all the changes in their lives and I don't believe the roads heading to Oz 
are nice, straight super highways. Kathy C used to receive at least a couple of sick dogs every trip until I 
started giving bonine to all of them.  She is soooooo happy not to have several horrible smelling, travel-sick 
kidlets arrive!  And I’m sure the dogs are much happier not to arrive after having been sick in their crates 
hours ago. ;)  Mill kids do not have any experience with cars that is good…any travel experiences in their 
lives would be bad so bonine is not a bad idea for any mill dog.
Do NOT use Dramamine which may make a dog sleepy just as it does with humans.  It is dangerous for a “doped up” dog to vomit as it can lead to aspiration pneumonia if it’s not aware enough to be sure to keep it’s face out of it’s vomit.

Some people find success through giving the dog some ginger snaps.  These are human cookies available in some grocery stores.  Make sure the ingredient list contains real ginger rather than just ginger flavoring.  Despite the long history of empirical evidence, there is still little scientific evidence proving the medicinal value of ginger. Several small studies, however, have gone some of the way toward demonstrating ginger’s medicinal value in controlling or curing motion sickness and nausea.  Ginger may control nausea but it does not control the dizziness that may accompany it.

If it’s absolutely impossible to get Bonine/Meclizine/Antivert then Benedryl or it’s generic equivalent diphenhydramine hydrochloride can be used.  You can safely give 1 mg. per pound of dog every 8 hours or three times a day.  Other vets have told us it is safe to give a Cairn an adult human 25 mg. benedryl tablet or capsule with no danger.  I would definitely cut this back to approximately 1 mg. per pound of body weight for a young puppy though.  This may be of some help with motion sickness as this is a problem with the inner ear. 

The only active ingredient should be diphenhydramine. As many medications that are sold OTC contain other meds, this really is a critical point. This means that Benadryl Decongestant, Benadryl for Colds, etc. are all unacceptable.

Recommendations are to:  drive slowly around curves, avoid frequent lane changes, approach stops signs or red lights slowly (avoid sudden or sharp stops), keep at least one window cracked open to get fresh air, try to prevent your pet from looking out the window, and make sure the temperature inside the car is kept not too hot or cold.

Revised: 7.1.10

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