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On the Road Again: Dealing with Your Dog’s Car Anxiety

Posted: 05/27/2022 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories:

If you’re like most dog owners, you love your pup so much you want to take them everywhere with you – even on a car ride. While many dogs love going for car rides, there are those who absolutely dread the experience with every furry fiber of their being. In this article, we’ll talk about what dog car anxiety is exactly, some possible causes of car anxiety, and what you can do to alleviate this anxiety in your dog.

What is Dog Car Anxiety?

dog car anxiety

Dog Car Anxiety is when a dog shows visible signs of fear and agitation while driving in a motor vehicle. While some dogs love to stick their head out the window and sniff every single scent on the breeze, others visibly shake and tremble during the entire ride.

In addition to shaking and trembling, here are some other signs of dog car anxiety:

  • Resisting getting into the car
  • Looking for a way out
  • Panting
  • Salivating and licking their lips
  • Licking paws
  • Vocalizing (like barking, whining or whimpering)
  • Yawning
  • Vomiting
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Diarrhea

Is Dog Car Anxiety the Same as Motion Sickness?

The symptoms of motion sickness and dog car anxiety present very similarly. And quite often, motion sickness can cause car anxiety. But these two are not exactly the same because dog car anxiety is a behavioral issue, whereas motion sickness is a physical illness.

A dog with motion sickness will often vomit during the car trip. This will, in turn, make them begin to feel anxious anytime they get into the car, because they know they are about to feel very unwell.

It can be difficult to know if your dog suffers from motion sickness or dog car anxiety so it’s a good idea to get them into the vet who can determine if the issue is behavioral in nature or physical.

Causes of Dog Car Anxiety

why do dogs feel fear in the car

While motion sickness is one off the most common reasons for a dog to have car anxiety, there are others causes as well.

Some dogs are more fearful in nature in general. Many of these dogs may have been shelter dogs and experienced real trauma in their early life. If your dog is fearful of new people, new places, or loud noises, there is a good chance he or she may experience car anxiety.

In addition, if your pet has experienced something negative in the past in a car, they will very likely develop a fear of being and driving in cars. For example, if their tail was caught in a car door, and they experienced a painful injury, this could lead to them associating being in the car with pain. Or if you were ever in a car accident with your dog in the car, this can absolutely cause the BOTH of you future anxiety!

And finally, if the only time your dog is ever in the car is to go to a destination he is fearful of, such as the vet’s or the groomers, he may develop a negative association with car rides, and this can absolutely trigger symptoms of anxiety. It’s always a good idea to take dogs on car rides to places they love like the beach and the dog park.

Treatments for Dog Car Anxiety

If you suspect your dog suffers from car anxiety, there are a few different options when it comes to treatment and we’ll list those below. You’ll want to speak with your veterinarian to determine the best option for your pup.

 Car Anxiety Medications For Dogs

If your dog suffers from motion sickness, your vet will most likely prescribe an anti-nausea medication for your dog’s motion sickness. This will reduce the chances of vomiting, which should, in and of itself, make your dog less anxious.

If you dog’s car related anxiety does not stem from car sickness, your vet may decide to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for car trips. If anti-anxiety meds do not work effectively, sedatives may be the next logical step.

dog anxiety treatment

Dog Car Anxiety Training

Dog car anxiety training is an effective way to help your pup to feel more relaxed on car rides. Behavioral modification such as desensitization and counterconditioning have helped many dog owners help their best furry friends feel calm and even happy on car rides.

While behavioral modification is not a quick fix, it’s a more natural way to help your dog and doesn’t come with side effects like some prescription medications. If you are interested in exploring this option to help with your dog’s car anxiety, speak with your vet about referrals to professional dog trainers.

Make Sure Your Dog is Firmly Secured

It’s always a good idea to use a harness to restrain your dog in the car. Not only can this keep him safe in case of a traffic accident, but when dogs feel more physically secure, they tend to feel less anxious.

Try Pheromone Products

Pheromone sprays can help your dog’s anxiety by helping them feel more comfortable in their environment. These products contain DAP, dog-appeasing pheromone. This is the same pheromone that female dogs release when they are nursing their puppies.

Compression Jackets

Compression jackets snugly wrap your dog, which helps them to feel calm and secure during car travel.

dog car anxiety relief

Play Calming Music

Did you know animals really like classical music? Any kind of calming music can help your dog chill out and enjoy the ride.

We all want to be able to take our dog with us when we adventure out on a road trip, or just to run some errands. If your dog tends to be anxious in the car, speak to your vet to see what treatment options may be the best for dog anxiety.

Do High Vet Bills Make You Anxious?

Going to the vet is not only an anxious experience for your dog, it can be for you as well. That’s because vet bills can often catch us off guard. There is nothing worse than the feeling you can’t provide medical treatment to your beloved pup because you can’t afford it.

A pet insurance plan ensures your dog gets the care they need when they need it and also ensures you don’t have to worry when the bill comes. Did you know that some pet insurance plans may be able to reimburse you for up to 90% of the bill?

Pet Insurance Review wants to help pet owners be responsible by finding the best insurance plans on the market. You shouldn’t feel anxious when trying to take care of your fur babies.

Get a free quote today.

References:

  1. Kohler, M, DVM. (2021) Why Do Dogs Yawn? Retrieved from: https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/why-do-dogs-yawn
  2. Hunter, T, DVM & Ward, E, DVM. Motion Sickness in Dogs. Retrieved from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/motion-sickness-in-dogs
  3. Coates, J, DVM. Anxiety Medications for Dogs. Retrieved from: https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/10-medications-dog-anxiety
  4. Wilde, N. (2021) What is DAP and How Can it Help Dogs? Retrieved from: https://www.nicolewilde.com/post/what-is-dap-and-how-can-it-help-dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

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