Does your dog love car rides but gets queasy whenever he steps in a moving vehicle? And then you end up cleaning his breakfast from the back seat of the car?
Pfizer Animal Health has created Cerenia, a daily tablet that prevents canine vomiting from motion sickness. This FDA approved medication became available starting July 30 and is recommended for dogs 16 weeks or older.
Cerenia works by blocking a receptor in the brain stem that receives signals from the rest of the body to vomit. It can be used to treat vomiting in dogs caused by motion sickness or medical problems, such as gastroenteritis or renal disease.
Dr. Brenda McClelland, a veterinarian and co-owner of an animal clinic in Fort Collins, Texas, says that when an adult dog gets sick, pants or drools excessively in a moving vehicle, it is important to observe the dog to see if it’s truly motion sickness.
McClelland says that true motion sickness is the result of an inner ear problem. When dogs start drooling or getting queasy even before they get in the car, it may be more of an anxiety problem instead of motion sickness. A dog may be anxious if they are not used to riding in a car or has had a bad experience.
A veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health said that Cerenia has a success rate of up to 93%. But the medication will not treat a dog’s anxiety if that is the reason they are vomiting.
â€œMotion sickness is not well understood in dogs,â€ Pfizer’s veterinarian said. â€œA dog could be vomiting both from sickness of the inner ear and from anxiety. â€¦ Itâ€™s hard to tell whether anxiety is causing vomiting or whether nausea is resulting in anxiety.â€
McClelland adds that motion sickness is often treated with over-the-counter antihistamines used for people like Benadryl or meclizine. Some dogs may become drowsy after taking antihistamines. Also, some dogs may have mixed results with meclizine.
She says that it is critical to focus on the dog’s anxiety and not just the vomiting. An anxiety attack can affect a dog’s heart just like how it affects a human’s heart.
She recommends training the dog to get used to the car. Put the dog into the car (without turning it on) and give lots of compliments and a treat and then get out. Repeat this process and gradually start turning on the car and then driving the car for short distances with the dog. Gradually lengthen the amount of driving time and the number of starts and stops.
For pet owners who want more of a natural method, spraying the car with a dog-appeasing pheromone spray like lavender essence may work. The effectiveness of this method may differ depending on the dog’s anxiety level.