Help me move a carsick dog across the country!
August 29, 2011 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Moving an older dog halfway across the country. Help needed please!

Asking for my parents. My parents are moving from Southern Indiana to Georgia and they are taking their dog with them. Problem is that poor puppy does not like car rides, she's gone on short rides to the vet before, but longer than that she gets sick and very unhappy. Obviously, the drive to Georgia will be anything but short. However, the move isn't until late October, so we have time to prep and plan, but we need help coming up with a plan. She's an older dog, about 13 or so, medium sized (about 45lbs), and she'll be travelling down in a minivan, so she can have space. She's never been crate trained or in a crate, so that will just add stress for her.

Any thoughts or suggestions (even drugs we might want to ask the vet for) would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, she's likely to need to be boarded for a night or two until they take possession of their new house, so any recommendations for boarding facilities in Savannah, GA would be great.
posted by katers890 to Pets & Animals (16 answers total)
Obviously, start talking to the vet about how to deal with this, but two months might be a good enough time to get her used to a crate. If she can just hunker down the whole way, I think she'll be happier, or at least better off. A nice safe place to hide might make it that much more easy for her. Give her lots of inducements (ie treats) to hang out in the crate, and you can probably get her there in time.
posted by Gilbert at 9:38 AM on August 29, 2011

Talk to your vet. It may be possible to dose the dog for motion sickness. I would not crate a dog who is not very happy and familiar with crating. I realise we're supposed to belt dogs as we belt children and other passengers these days, but my dog is happiest curled up in the foot well of the passenger seat, getting reassuring pats and sticking her head barely into the cracked window for fresh air. When she is planning to vomit, I know well in advance.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2011

Get the vet to prescribe some ace as well. It will keep the dog sedate during the travel.
posted by TheBones at 9:52 AM on August 29, 2011

My first dog was very nervous in the car, too, and would always find a spot to tuck herself away in if I didn't provide one - usually she'd scrunch her 60 lb butt down into the spot behind the driver's seat, which seemed to calm her down considerably. If you have the space and can get her used to it in time, I would definitey recommend a crate - put a blanket over it to give it a more 'denlike' feel (and perhaps leave the door open if you think being shut away would make her more anxious? Otherwise, do what you can to make her a nice little tucked-away nest (maybe put her favorite blanket down into a wheel well?).

Your vet can likely recommend some sort of pill to help her relax, too, if you're interested in pursuing that - I don't have personal experience with that, but I've known people who have had success in going the pill route for their car-anxious dogs.

(And what a cutie! I love those soulful eyes =)
posted by DingoMutt at 9:55 AM on August 29, 2011

Yes, talk to your vet about medication! We have a cat who DOES NOT travel well (yowls nonstop until you reach your destination and has an uncanny ability to either vomit or more unpleasant things exactly 5 minutes before you reach your destination, no matter how far). She's now moved from a southern state to a northern and from the midwest to the east coast with us in moving trucks. The vet was able to give us medication both times that took care of the motion sickness, and that really cut down on her anxiety and the heartbreaking but still capable of making you want to pull your ears off yowling. I can't remember exactly what was prescribed, and it was different for each of those trips.

What I can't recommend strongly enough, though is trying out the meds before they take a long car trip. One of the drugs seriously whacked her out for about 24 hours, making for a very sleepless night when we stopped in a hotel because she couldn't be still, but was drunkenly pacing the room and trying (and failing) to jump on and off the furniture. If we'd known ahead of time, we would have tried something else, or tried a lower dose.

Also, be sure to plan out a pet friendly stop along the way. Certain motels accept pets and others don't. Knowing ahead of time can help you plan for how long they'll want to be on the road on a given day.

Good luck!
posted by goggie at 10:01 AM on August 29, 2011

You can definitely treat a dog for motion sickness. We've used prescription stuff that we got from the Vet. Knocks the dogs out more or less. I've also heard of using Benadryl, 1mg per pound of the dog.
posted by COD at 10:02 AM on August 29, 2011

You can dope up a dog with Benadryl for the trip. It's 1mg per pound of body weight. No reason to go the RX route when you can get Benadryl OTC. It's the only way our anxious terrier travels, when he must.

You're looking at about a 13-hour drive. The Benadryl will last around 8 hours if dosed correctly, so consider making this a two-day journey, dosing one day and then dosing a second day. Also, having a crate in the minivan may NOT cause her stress but rather make her feel more secure. I strongly encourage you to have one for the drive, if for no other reason than to give her her own space.

On preview: what COD said.
posted by juniperesque at 10:14 AM on August 29, 2011

I would check with the vet on the Benadryl dosage. I would never give my 125 pound dog 5 Benadryl pills which are normally 25mg each, that's 2 1/2 times the dosage for people. Your parents' dog is 45 pounds and old, one pill every 4 - 6 hours sounds way more appropriate. Talk to the vet.
posted by shoesietart at 11:07 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can dope up a dog with Benadryl for the trip. It's 1mg per pound of body weight. No reason to go the RX route when you can get Benadryl OTC. It's the only way our anxious terrier travels, when he must.

Please do not do this unless you have had your dog on benadryl before. All dogs react differently. Just like humans, some dogs freak out on it and it turns them hyper.

2 mgs/kg is the correct dosage for a dog, but do not do it unless you have talked to a vet about it and have tried it before hopping in a car.
posted by TheBones at 11:34 AM on August 29, 2011

Benadryl works, just like COD said, but it would probably be good to fast the dog for 8 hours or so prior to the ride starting and then only offer miniscule amounts of food and small amounts of water until you get there. I promise she won't starve, and the lack of substance in her tummy would help with the car sickness.
posted by Jayed at 11:36 AM on August 29, 2011

My dog is 2 years old and when we first got him we were told that he hates cars which he does. He gets sick. Although I think he gets scared to. Believe it or not...the crate has been the answer to enabling him to go for longer drives. I got one of those soft crates and put a nice fluffy bed inside. We never really crate trained him so the crate wasn't a place he was used to. The crate really does give the dog a safe and secure place. My dog went from yelping during the whole ride to being completely quiet and actually very comfy. I would give it a shot. Worst thing that happens is it doesn't work. You have to be diligent. Start taking the dog for a drive every other day and then every day. Give the dog a treat afterwords. The dog can learn to tolerate it. Unless it's truly really bad car sickness...eventually the dog will get used to it. Hope this helps.
posted by ljs30 at 12:25 PM on August 29, 2011

Just a note, Crate training for many dogs isn't a stressful situation many take to it just fine. My first dog loves his crate and its still his safe place.

The biggest hurdle for most dogs is the separation (my second dog's issue) and since your situation won't really mean you walking away getting used to the crate can be a much easier transition. I'd try getting a soft crate (maybe used or borrowed?) and giving it a try and see if your pup takes to it.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:48 PM on August 29, 2011

I'm not sure my parents are up for crate training, nor do I think their dog is going to take to it well, she's had the run of the house and backyard for all of her life, and even when she's boarded, she's at a mostly open air kennel where the dogs all hang out together in a big field. Plus they are trying to sell their house right now, and I'm not sure they can actually have the crate in the house. However, I will suggest it to them.

Sounds like drugs (prescribed by the vet with some trial runs before the actual move) is the way to go. Hopefully, all will go alright, she's older, but still quite spry, and she's going to enjoy the move to GA I'm sure, we just have to get her there.
posted by katers890 at 1:33 PM on August 29, 2011

Cerenia (for carsickness) and/or Xanax (for anxiety) are better choices than acepromazine, ace is old school and can increase anxiety in many dogs, since it does not have any anxiolytic effect. But you definitely want to test drive any solutions before you actually drive (and Benadryl does not generally sedate most dogs and also does nothing for anxiety). Sedating an anxious dog without doing anything to alleviate the anxiety is a great way to make the problem worse next time.
posted by biscotti at 2:29 PM on August 29, 2011

You can also help some dogs get over carsickness by taking them on gradually longer, fun little car trips. So one week, a few times, take dog out for 15 minutes, come home, give lots of treats. Next week, 20 mins a few times. Etc.

We did this with a dog who started vomiting at about 20 minutes every trip. After a couple of months of quick car trips that started and ended at home, he stopped vomiting in the car at all. Since then he's been moved twice, all-day car trips, and has also gone on several vacations that involved all-day car trips.

Now, he went through this a couple of years before his first all-day car trip, so YMMV. Hey, if it were me, I'd do this AND talk to the vet about meds. But even if it doesn't make her car-proof for the upcoming long trip, it may still help--and may help too for any other trips she needs in the future.
posted by galadriel at 10:13 AM on August 30, 2011

One of our dogs was carsick constantly as a pup. We tried a lot of different things to help (including medications), but what ultimately worked was a crate. She had not been crate trained prior to us introducing it, but she took to it pretty quickly.

Once we introduced it, we took her in it on a lot of short trips to fun places - places where she could run and play. Before long, she would jump into the crate in the back of the car willingly, and we were able to take long trips without worrying about her being sick.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:42 PM on September 6, 2011

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