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Carsick cockapoos

[From Tufts November 2011 Issue]

I have two cockapoos who will be 2 years old in December. Ever since we got them, they have suffered from carsickness. It takes only about five minutes of riding before one of them vomits. We want to drive to Florida in November but don’t want them sick all the way down. Is there anything that can stop this?
Linda Becknell
Richmond, Ill.

Carsickness is fairly common for puppies and often is outgrown as dogs grow older. However, because your pets’ age, I’m concerned you may be stuck with this problem.

Motion sickness occurs when the eyes and the body’s balance system send conflicting signals to the brain. The signals don’t get scrambled when walking or moving under their own power. When moving in a car, boat or plane, however, the signals received by the eyes don’t match with those transmitted by the inner ear. The sense of balance is thrown off.

Different methods can avoid motion-induced vomiting. Some dogs do better on an empty rather than full stomach. Don’t feed for several hours before travel. The next step is to try an over-the-counter anti-nausea medication such as meclizine (Bonine). The dose is one tablet (25 mg) per 60 pounds of body weight; for most cockapoos, the dose would be one-fourth tablet one hour before travel.

If neither of the above helps, your veterinarian can dispense a more effective medication to avoid motion sickness. A useful combination tranquilizer and anti-nausea drug called acepromazine may be what your pets require for your trip. Motion-induced vomiting can be eliminated in almost all cases. Best of luck to you and your dogs.
Michael Stone DVM, ACVIM
(Small Animal Internal Medicine)
Cummings School

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