Help me make my dog less miserable in the car.
December 16, 2010 8:00 AM   Subscribe

What is the proper dosage/usage of Dramamine for a dog that gets carsick? I know YANAVet and YANMVet.

So we have a doggie who gets carsick and we'll be traveling a good bit this holiday season. The trips will be 10 hours in one trip, 4-5 in another, then 4-5 again. Our other dog is fine in the car (but still manages to give us grumpy looks most of the way). Similar question here but not as focused on the medication side of it.

The one that does get carsick doesn't have extreme symptoms and has only puked in the car once or twice, she really just heads for the floorboards and drools like a maniac. We've tried to acclimatize her to riding in the car by using short trips with happy encouragement/treats and it just hasn't panned out. We've got her to where she likes 'loading up' and will on her own, but still gets sick/nervous/drooly almost before we get out of our subdivision.

Since she was a rescue and we didn't get her until she was a few months old and I think she just didn't get the exposure or possibly even had a bad experience in a vehicle. It could be physiological as well, that's where I'm hoping the Dramamine will help her out.

Features: she's a high energy, ~1 year old pitbull (probably not 100% since she's not as huge/blocky as some I've seen), and probably weighs in the 35-45 lb range. Obligatory picture here.

I keep seeing references to a 4 mg / lb dose. But that seems high to me since it works out to ~3 50mg pills. Wikipedia mentions one 50mg pill for dogs but their citation doesn't mention dosage at all.

I'd rather err on the side of caution and hear your opinions on this, hard numbers are a plus.

posted by RolandOfEld to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Our Vet gives us a doggie sedative that we give to one of our beagles that can't make it 5 minutes in the car without vomiting. She takes a nice pleasant nap while we go over the river and through the woods to grandma's house.

Talk to your Vet.
posted by COD at 8:07 AM on December 16, 2010

Check your memail =)
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:12 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When it comes to dosing, I suggest using the most authoritative references you can find, otherwise you risk trusting your dog's life to web designer's typo. For instance (1, 2). Doing that I got something more on the order of 4 to 8 mg/kg, and of course 4 mg/kg is the safest value to start at. This is indeed a higher dosing proportion than for humans (1.25 mg/kg), so it does in fact appear that you're looking at something in the rough ballpark of an adult human dose.

As far as how many pills, I wouldn't put forward a guess without actually examining the box to make sure it's very clearly 50 mg of dimenhydrinate (there were no pics in your post of the packaging, so...). On the other hand, it would in fact be a good idea to call your usual vet, as they get questions like this all the time and can help over the phone.
posted by crapmatic at 8:27 AM on December 16, 2010

Response by poster: To clarify: The box is the plain old dramamine box and is clearly labeled 50 mg.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:36 AM on December 16, 2010

Best answer: Our dog used to vomit EVERY time we put him in the car. He'd be ok for about ten minutes and then anything he had, even a single doggie treat, would come up.

We give him (a 65-70 lb dog) a single 25mg Bonine (aka meclizine) tablet the night before long rides. And we don't feed him that morning. If he's eaten anything I don't put him into the car until at least 5 hours later.
posted by mneekadon at 8:37 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a ~17lb cat and give her a quarter of a 50mg tablet before long car rides. It works great. The dosage was recommended by a veterinarian friend of my wife's.

So I would think that you could go with half a 50mg tablet, though I obviously don't know for sure that you can extrapolate from cats to dogs.
posted by 256 at 8:40 AM on December 16, 2010

Response by poster: @256: From my experience extrapolating from dog to cat is not a good idea. I'm under the impression that cats tend to be more sensitive to meds than dogs (even after accounting for body weight). Thanks for the hard numbers though.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:05 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding advice given by mneekadon: don't feed your dog before car trips. No food for 12 hours or so will prevent the worst of the puking. Or at least the productive puking.

Having previously owned a dog who would get ultra carsick, I found that withholding food and water for at least 8 hours (but preferably 12, and with the okay from her vet) plus some kind of doggie anti-nausea meds made a world of difference. Good luck!
posted by heathergirl at 10:43 AM on December 16, 2010

I completely failed to answer your question, but it's really best to call your vet and just ask. They must get this question all of the time during this time of the year.
posted by heathergirl at 10:45 AM on December 16, 2010

If you have a regular vet they'll often answer questions like this over the phone. They also might recommend something OTC besides dramamine, what with having your particular dog's records, their weight, knowing what is to know about the breed/mix, etc.

Really, this is a vet question. Really.
posted by galadriel at 11:16 AM on December 16, 2010

I've heard that feeding your dog gingersnaps is a good way to prevent carsickness, if you want to avoid the medication route.
posted by whitneyarner at 11:22 AM on December 16, 2010

Response by poster: @whitney: I wonder if there's something inherently more helpful about gingersnaps vs. other treats. I'll have to look into that.

For the benefit of others who may have a similar question:

After my vet not returning my (3) calls over the course of as many weeks, I finally got a response from a receptionist, who I'm guessing asked the vet. We were already looking to switch, this confirms it.

Reply: "25 mg or 50 mg, whichever you prefer"

Thanks to those that replied with similar experiences/info. I'm not really worried about it but wanted to try to get the dosage as close to what's right for her the first time as I could. Turns out I'm also more concerned about fine tuning it than my vet, for better or for worse.

I really didn't want to increase the number of "This question is vital/unanswerable by anyone other than a vet", *shrug* maybe next time.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:35 AM on December 16, 2010

Best answer: Yeesh. Good luck on finding a new vet, then.

Here, pretty authoritative souce: (diphenhydramine, PO is oral, TID is three times a day),
also here:
posted by galadriel at 12:52 PM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Win. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for that.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:02 PM on December 16, 2010

Re the gingersnap question, ginger in general is recommended to prevent carsickness in people. A friend of mine uses a liquid distillation in water rather than taking dramamine and she says it works well. I also have a box of "Gin Gins" ginger chews, a candy that is labeled "The Traveler's Candy." (I am very prone to carsickness and am a regular dramamine user; have never tried substituting ginger but would consider it as an aide.)

I don't know, though, if ginger is good for dogs (aren't onions, for instance, poisonous?). You can probably just stick with the dramamine, since you know Merck is OK with it.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:09 PM on December 16, 2010

There's a prescription drug for treating carsickness in dogs that works for 24 hrs - Cerenia (maropitant citrate).

Also, keep in mind that Dramamine & Benedryl are interchangeable for this treatment, and vary only slightly in chemical makeup.

OTOH, my pup suffered horribly from car trips, until I noticed that he would actually start suffering before the car started... If I left him in the car to get something I'd forgotten before leaving, he was visibly upset (drooling) by the time I returned. From this, I tried anti-anxiety meds (which helped more than anti-motion-sickness drugs did), and finally learned to pet him continuously while driving. This eventually means just keeping a hand on his side, mostly. And - joy!!! - no more vomiting!

(In fact, I just made a 5-hr car trip with him to visit friends, vomit-free, with only one stop for him to walk about. Not worried about the trip back!)

See what reassuring your little friend will do - have a brave passenger lap-carry him for a couple short drives to somewhere fun, or around the block. End them with a treat.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:25 PM on December 16, 2010

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