Q&A: Why is my dog carsick?

  • Expert advice from Baileys nutritionist about coping with a carsick Jack Russell

    Q: How can you stop a dog from becoming carsick? My Jack Russell Terrier, Solo, is now 18 months old and yet we cannot take her 200 yards in the car without her throwing up, even if we have not fed her for 24 hours.

    Liz Bulbrook, Baileys Director of Nutrition replies: Unfortunately, there could be a number of reasons as to why Solo gets carsick.

    It is unlikely that Solo has a sensitive stomach, particularly if she does not suffer digestive up-sets at any other time. Dogs generally become sick in the car because they are frightened, not because they have real motion sickness like people.

    Starving her is unlikely to resolve the problem but could create anxiety because she is hungry and anticipating something different is going to happen.

    It is necessary to reassure your dog that thesefears are groundless. It may be that the only times Solo has travelled have been stressful events, not necessarily because of how you drive, but, for example leaving her mother and coming to her new home, going to the vets or kennels.

    Oftenit can become a vicious circle in that because the dog gets travel sick they only get taken in the car for essential journeys, such as a visit to the vets.

    Try getting Solo used to travelling in the car but not necessarily going anywhere; sit in the car with her and give her a treat after a few minutes.

    Gradually increase this until you can manage short journeys, even if you only make it to the end of the drive or road, followed by a treat if she does not exhibit her signs of car sickness.

    Gradually increase the length of the rides, perhaps going somewhere for a nice walk, keep going until she enjoys her car rides and becomes less anxious.

    Some dogs really do suffer from motion sickness. If this is the case, then you need to discuss Solo’s situation with your vet, who may be able to prescribe her suitable drugs such as dog tranquillisers for when she has to make those essential journeys. Q: I own two springer spanielsthat are both spayed. They have lived together in relative harmony for five years now. Despite the length of time they have lived together they still show aggressive tendencies towards each other. The majority of the time they can curl up and sleep together but sometimes they have this Mexican standoff where they growl and circle each other. I would love them to get on all the time as Im worried that one day there will be a full blown fight. A: Dogs can become aggressive and fight with each other for a number of reasons, but the most common reason for dogs that live together to argue can be a dispute over their status in the family pack. Neutering male dogs can sometimes help the problem but spaying females seldom has the same effect. Although your dogs have always lived together it is likely that one of them is the more dominant party, being slightly stronger, smarter and domineering. Although the signs may be quite subtle and not that obvious to you watch your dogs interact; which one gets to the door first, gets to eat first, chooses the best sleeping place, takes the best toy etc. This will be the alpha dog. The problems can arise when the lower ranking dog forgets her place and tries to move up the ladder, or you have given this dog more praise and fuss and the other dog tries to re-assert their authority. However, as your dogs pack includes the human family you should be the Alpha member in that you make the rules and enforce them through trainingand discipline. Although you may not be able to recognise the trigger factor for these occasional aggressive incidents it is easier to prevent a fight than stop one. Trigger factors could be a simple as a shove, growl, competitiveness for attention, or being bored. It is important to nip it in the bud as soon as you see the situation occurring. If you do not know which dog started it them reprimand both and assert your authority. I am sure you give both your dogs equal affection, but avoid situations of competition where possible, such as over food, toys, attention etc. Recognising the higher-ranking dog and giving her first privileges but not excluding the other bitch can be helpful in some situations. Providing plenty of exercise should also encourage then to want to curl up and sleep together when back at home.

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