Causes of car travel sickness in dogs and remedies

July 14, 2021

Not all cases of travel sickness in dogs result in car seats being redecorated. There are other symptoms that show your dog is feeling unwell on your journey, and even before you start. Our experienced head vet, Caroline Ward, explains what to look out for, and how you can help your dog cope with car travel.

Visit our Vet Nurses for advice

Causes and symptoms of travel sickness in dogs

Travel, or motion sickness in dogs is more commonly seen in puppies and young dogs because the ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed yet. Most puppies should outgrow motion sickness by the time they are about 12 months old.

Some older dogs, however, will start to fret as soon as you open the car door. A common reason for this is stress. If your dog is only ever in the car for a trip to somewhere they have associated with a negative experience, anxiety can lead to nausea and vomiting.

When it comes to the symptoms of motion sickness, Caroline advises dog owners to watch for any signs of inactivity, yawning, whining, excessive drooling, smacking or licking lips, and vomiting.

10 steps to treating motion sickness in dogs

If your dog suffers from sickness while travelling, don’t panic. There are plenty of steps you can take to minimise suffering.

  1. Take your pet back to basics to build up their tolerance level. Try just sitting in your car with them for a while, before embarking on a trip to the end of the road and back. Gradually progress a little further each time and give them extra praise after each session, so they associate car travel with a positive experience.
  2. Make the car journey as comfortable as possible; ensure your dog is facing forwards while travelling rather than looking out of side windows. Buy a dog seatbelt to keep them secure.
  3. Keep your vehicle cool and well ventilated. Lower windows slightly when the car is moving to balance air pressure in the car.
  4. Limit their food consumption before travelling.
  5. Give them their blanket and favourite toy in the car to try and pacify them.
  6. A natural remedy you can try for dog car sickness is placing a cotton ball with a few drops of lavender or chamomile oil on, inside your car 30 minutes before you set off. This fills the car with a soothing aroma. Be sure to remove the cotton ball so your dog doesn’t eat it.
  7. Spray a small amount of Dog Appeasing Pheromone inside the car. Ask us about this.
  8. Vary destinations so your dog doesn’t just associate car travel with vet visits, or wherever else they are uncomfortable. Why not throw in some trips to an exciting new park?
  9. Try using desentisation techniques at the places where your dog seems nervous (if it’s safe for them). For example, you can bring your dog to our Atherstone Road clinic just to get a treat and some fuss from our team. Weigh-ins make good interim visits too. Several positive experiences in a row will help your dog learn that not all vet visits involve a thermometer up their…
  10. If your dog’s travel sickness isn’t improving, talk to Caroline or one of our vets about whether a prescription tablet could help. Never give your dog human travel sickness tablets.

Good luck, and we hope you enjoy an incident-free journey with your dog soon. If you need any further advice or support, we recommend making an appointment with one of our friendly Vet Nurses by calling 01530 270170.

Beware of five common summer dog diseases

June 7, 2021

Canine infectious diseases can be hard to avoid during summer as they spread where there are large concentrations of dogs. This could be at the park, on dog-friendly holidays, in boarding kennels, day care, and at dog shows.

Our head vet Caroline Ward, recommends that pet owners should know how to spot the symptoms of common canine diseases, but also how to prevent them. Vaccinating your dog annually reduces the risk of contracting most harmful diseases not only for your dog, but for other dogs as well. That’s why Caroline always explains the importance of vaccinations to pet owners in Derbyshire

If you’re not sure when your dog was last vaccinated, and you’re registered with STAR Vets, give us a call on 01530 270 170 and we can check and book them in.

The facts about five dog diseases that are common in summer:

Kennel cough (canine tracheobronchitis)
• Airborne, highly contagious and infectious.
• Can be picked up anywhere infected dogs have been, not just in kennels.
• Symptoms of kennel cough: a dry hacking/honking cough, retching, nasal discharge, and lack of appetite in some dogs.
• Can progress to secondary pneumonia with a high temperature and lethargy – can be fatal.

Canine parainfluenza:
• Contagious respiratory virus in dogs that often leads to kennel cough.
• Spread via contact with an infected dog, shared food and water bowls, and bedding.
• Symptoms of canine parainfluenza: a cough, temperature/fever, nasal discharge, appetite loss, lacking energy.
• Sometimes mistaken for canine influenza, which is a different virus and less common.

• Unvaccinated dogs (especially puppies) can catch parvovirus from an infected dog, their faeces, and anything they’ve touched e.g., lead, bowl, bedding, human hands, clothes, other objects. The virus can live outside of the body for up to a year.
• Symptoms of parvovirus: attacks the intestines causing vomiting, reduced appetite, diarrhoea (foul smelling, bloody & watery), extreme lethargy, fever (hot or cold to touch).
• Can be fatal if left untreated, and sometimes fatal even if prompt treatment is sought.

Canine Coronavirus Infection (CCoV) – not related to COVID-19:
• Highly infectious virus, attacks part of the small intestine causing gastrointestinal issues.
• CCoV can remain in the body and be shed in faeces for up to 6 months. It can survive in the environment for a couple of days. Transmission is via exposure to an infected dog’s faeces.
• Stress and poor hygiene can make a dog susceptible to CCoV.
• It can be most problematic for puppies and dogs with other infections like parvovirus.
• Symptoms of CCoV: sometimes none, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, depression, fever, appetite loss. CCoV can be fatal.

Lyme disease isn’t contagious, but it is the most common tick-borne disease in the UK. Lyme disease can be contracted by dogs, humans and other pets when bitten by an infected tick. Ticks are always around, mostly in grassy and heathland areas, but are most active in warmer months. It’s important to check for ticks after walks and keep an eye out for common symptoms: fever, lethargy, appetite loss, lameness, and joint swelling. Lyme disease can progress and become debilitating.

To combat these diseases there are two things Caroline recommends to dog owners: 1) know the symptoms, and 2) learn how to prevent them in the first place.

Thankfully, you can protect your dog from the above diseases by keeping them up to date with vaccinations, and parasite treatments for ticks.

If your dog is registered with us, our team can check if they are up to date with vaccinations and parasite control. To help you, both are included in our pet health plan – just ask our team for information.

As a side note, according to the RSPCA, imports of puppies doubled in the previous year last summer thanks to the ‘lockdown puppy trend’. Do you know someone who adopted a new pet in the last 12 months? You can help their dog and the wider dog population by encouraging them to check up on vaccinations too.

How to socialise a puppy after lockdown

May 7, 2021

Like many people, did you try to socialise a puppy bought in lockdown and weren’t able to cover all aspects? STAR Vets’ nurses want you to know it’s never too late to socialise a puppy, or an older dog, and explain how below.

So you can get 1-2-1 puppy advice from our fully trained vet nurses, take a moment to register your new best friend and tell us all about them.

Register your new puppy

Puppy socialisation is an important part of early development, and helps them grow into confident and well-mannered adults.  After 6-8 weeks of ‘training’ with mum & siblings, it’s over to you. Ideally, socialising a puppy should be done by 16 weeks. Socialising an older dog is still worth doing, just allow more time & patience. Our nurses have created this handy puppy socialisation checklist to help you:

 Post-Lockdown Puppy Socialisation Checklist

  1. The basics: Build up to collar wearing in the house and lead walking in the garden. Once fully vaccinated, do daily walks around your neighbourhood (start with 5 mins for each month of age twice a day). Get them used to being examined all over at home, and bring them to see our team to get weighed regularly. Happy experiences will reinforce a positive association, before they need a veterinary procedure.
  2. At home: Check your puppy is relaxed and happy. Then let your puppy get used to seeing and hearing things like the washing machine, hoover, TV, hairdryer, doorbell/knocker, and post arriving through the letterbox. Toys can be used to introduce different movements and textures in a non-threatening way.
  3. Summer sounds: There’s lots for your puppy to get used to in the garden this time of year such as the lawnmower, kids playing, and the hosepipe. Your puppy can of course have fun outdoors, but what you don’t want is for them to be afraid or bark uncontrollably.
  4. People: Your puppy may not have had much interaction with people outside your household yet. Now they can get used to friends, family, different age groups, and people wearing face masks, hats and glasses. Don’t forget postal workers and people in high-vis clothing.
  5. Animals: Socialising your puppy with other dogs is very important. Stay close enough to remove your puppy from the situation if needed, but don’t overcrowd so they can build confidence. Most dogs will teach puppies what is/isn’t acceptable to them, and owners may ask you to leave their dog alone. When introducing cats, small furries, horses, sheep, and cows, go slowly and be careful. A calm puppy around squirrels & birds would be beneficial.
  6. Out & about: Get your puppy used to traffic, busy highstreets, pet-friendly shops, and the ice-cream van of course!
  7. Car travel: Use a dog crate or a harness and seatbelt. Build up to longer car rides now you can go further afield – remember water & toilet breaks. Ask us for help if this isn’t going well.
  8. Home alone: If you’ve spent a lot of time at home, your puppy could develop separation anxiety when you go out. Try crate training or dedicate a safe corner in a quiet room for your puppy’s bed. Leave them alone for a bit longer each time.

STAR Vets’ nurses recommend involving everyone in your household, including children. Plus, stay calm, be consistent, and keep sessions short & frequent. Try not to overload your puppy with new experiences all at once and always reward calm behaviour towards new things. Finally, stay strong and resist the urge to cuddle your puppy if they get wary.

For more helpful puppy socialisation advice, register your new puppy and book a chat with our nurses.

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