Dramamine For Dogs: Everything You Need To Know
Any longtime dog owner will know that our furry friends can experience the same sorts of health issues as we can. Whether it's chronic pain, anxiety, or nausea, dogs are just as likely to struggle as we are. So how do you help your beloved pet in their time of need?
It can be tempting to give them a medication that we use for ourselves when we're experiencing an issue like this. But should you give your pet medicine that is intended for humans? In general, no, you shouldn't, at least not before consulting with your animal's vet.
While some medications are relatively harmless to give to our pets, others (like ibuprofen) can easily lead to serious and life-threatening health problems for your pet.
If your dog has been dealing with nausea or motion sickness, you might be considering giving them Dramamine, a popular over-the-counter medication for treating motion sickness in humans.
But should you give your animal Dramamine? In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about giving your pet this popular medication, from side effects, risks, dosages, and more.
What Is Dramamine?
It reduces symptoms of nausea and motion sickness by disrupting the vestibular system in your pet's ears. This system is responsible for controlling your pet's (and your) sense of balance and can be thrown out of whack when traveling in a vehicle, which is what leads to motion sickness. Blocking this system out using Dramamine can prevent it from being overstimulated during vehicle trips.
Dogs and humans are both sensitive to having their vestibular system overstimulated, although dogs are slightly less likely to develop motion sickness.
In case you aren't familiar with Dramamine, it's an antihistamine and anticholinergic drug used to reduce vomiting and motion sickness. Dramamine is also known by its generic name dimenhydrinate.
Dimenhydrinate is a combination of diphenhydramine and 8-chlorotheophylline, which is a mild stimulant similar to caffeine.
Despite the fact that Dramamine is not FDA approved for use in dogs and cats, it is frequently prescribed by vets to pet owners and is believed to have minimal negative side effects. Dramamine is essentially a less potent form of Benadryl and has similar sedative and anxiety-reducing effects on users.
As a result, vets might also prescribe Dramamine for animals that have been diagnosed with anxiety. Animals that are dealing with nausea that isn't caused by motion sickness can also use Dramamine to alleviate the symptoms of nausea.
Identifying Motion Sickness In Dogs
Whether you and your pet are going to be traveling by car, boat, plane, or train, Dramamine is usually able to help alleviate their anxiety associated with traveling and symptoms of motion sickness.
Sometimes called "travel sickness," motion sickness occurs when the vestibular system located in your inner ear is over stimulated.
This can lead to symptoms of nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fatigue. If you notice that your dog has these symptoms during travel, Dramamine is most likely an effective treatment for counteracting these effects.
Symptoms of Motion Sickness In Dogs:
- Excessive yawning
- Inactivity or lethargy
- Dry heaving
- Trembling, uneasiness, or anxiety
- Excessive licking
- Rapid breathing
- Nervous pacing
- Fear of getting in a car
Despite the fact that both humans and dogs can develop motion sickness due to overstimulation, it is much, much less common in dogs. In fact, only 95% of dogs develop motion sickness.
Most of the time, the negative reaction that dogs have when traveling is actually related to anxiety. Dogs can become anxious during travel for a variety of reasons.
For one thing, they may just not be used to traveling away from home, and are frightened by the experience. If it is your pet's first time traveling, this is likely the cause.
If your pet has traveled before, but still experiences anxiety during trips, then it could be a result of traumatic experiences associated with driving. Going to the vet, leaving their previous family/home, or being taken to a shelter can all cause your dog to associate travel with negativity.
Treating Travel-Related Anxiety In Dogs Without Dramamine
While most pet owners will likely be fine with giving their pet Dramamine, some may want a more natural solution. Even though medication can help your dog on a trip in the short-term, it doesn't solve their long-term issues with travel-related anxiety.
Overcoming these issues with your pet will reduce their reliance on medication, saving you money and your pet from having to take medication for an extended period of time.
1. Crate Training
One of the most effective methods recommended by vets is crate training. Crate training is the process of getting your dog to feel comfortable and safe in their crate while at home. By doing so, when they travel, being in their crate will give them a sense of stability and comfort rather than fear.
You can crate train your pet by filling their crate with their favorite toys, pillows, and blankets so that it's more like a bed and less like a box. Giving your pet treats for going in their crate and leaving treats hidden in their blankets or pillows can break negative associations they have with the space.
By establishing that their crate is a haven for them, they will feel less stressed when sitting in it during travel.
2. Baby Steps
Dogs, and most animals in general, take a much longer time to adjust to new surroundings than people do. While you may think of your home as your haven from the rest of the world, a lot of times our pets see it as the entire world. Even small changes like going to a new park can cause your dog some anxiety.
By taking small steps towards riding in a vehicle, as opposed to just loading your dog in the back and hitting the road, you can ease your dog into the experience in a less jarring way.
A good first step is getting your dog used to being in the garage. Spending positive time with your pet in the garage, especially if your vehicle is in there, will help them feel less afraid of the car itself.
From there, you can steadily work your way towards short trips around the block, slightly longer drives, and finally to a full-on road trip. It also helps to keep your pet's meals before a trip light and bland, so that if they do experience any nausea or motion sickness, it will be less likely to lead to vomiting.
3. Take Breaks
While you might be fine to make a long road trip with only a break or two along the way, your pet likely doesn't have the same kind of stamina. Taking breaks periodically to let them walk, eat, use the bathroom, play, and rest will help keep their anxiety at bay.
Stopping every one to two hours will give your pet a chance to recover from any motion sickness as well. Remember that even if they aren't making a fuss, they could be in pain or discomfort, and deserve a break just like we do!
Side Effects Of Dramamine For Dogs
The most common side effects are lethargy or sedation, dry mouth, and urine retention. So long as these don't become extreme, these are relatively harmless side effects (so long as you are not giving your pet Dramamine for an extended period of time).
If you notice these side effects in your dog and are concerned for their well-being, speak to your vet about reducing the dosage of Dramamine or switching to a different form of medication.
It's important to know the side effects of Dramamine for dogs so that you can adjust dosages and, in a worst-case scenario, stop giving them Dramamine completely.
Every dog is different, and each will have a different tolerance to the medication. Even though it's believed to be a relatively safe medication for dogs, there are some side effects to be aware of.
More severe side effects could include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and reduced appetite. These are much rarer and should be taken seriously. Monitor your dog's behavior, and if you notice any of these more severe side effects, stop administering the Dramamine and speak with your vet about your dog's health.
Consult With Your Dog's Vet First
Before giving your pet any new form of medication, you should always consult with your vet first. You never know how an animal is going to react to a new medication, and trying to give your pet an over-the-counter medicine intended for humans without speaking with your vet first can lead to serious consequences.
Not only that, but asking your vet about using Dramamine will help you determine appropriate dosages, consider other aspects of your dog's health, ask questions about mixing medications, and even discuss alternatives to Dramamine that may be better suited to your pet's needs.
Should I Give My Dog Dramamine?
The best way to decide if you should give your dog Dramamine is by first checking with your vet and providing them with a list of any other medications that your pet may be on, as well as any health conditions they may have.
For the most part, giving your dog Dramamine in proper dosages shouldn't be a problem. However, there are some circumstances where you should not give your dog this popular medication.
If your dog is pregnant or nursing, giving them Dramamine could be dangerous for the pups since the medication is likely to be transferred to them. If your dog is a working dog, be aware that they will likely be sedated and lethargic during their normal routines and assignments while taking Dramamine.
Also, if your dog has an antihistamine allergy, Dramamine could be dangerous for them since it's an antihistamine. Dogs that have health issues like high blood pressure, glaucoma, seizures, intestinal or urinary obstruction, prostate disease, hyperthyroidism, or lung/heart disease should not take Dramamine, as the side effects could be much more substantial.
If your dog has any of the following conditions, giving them Dramamine is not advisable:
- High blood pressure
- Gastric outflow, stomach, bladder neck, or urinary obstruction
- Allergies from antihistamines
- Kidney, liver, lung, prostate, or heart disease
So long as your dog doesn't have any of the listed health issues, they should be safe to take Dramamine under a vet's direction. Even though it is one of the more common prescriptions that vets give to dogs, you should never give your pets any new form of medication without first speaking to a vet.
How Much Dramamine Can I Give My Dog?
The best way to determine dosage is to speak to your vet since they will be able to take factors into consideration like your pet's size, age, and health. Dosing isn't a "one size fits all," so don't hesitate to ask your vet for a recommendation.
If you are giving your pet a standard Dramamine tablet, 2-4mg per pound that your dog weighs is generally a safe amount.
If you're giving it to your dog for travel, wait to administer it until 30 minutes prior to when you'll actually be leaving. This way it begins to take effect right as you are hitting the road. It's also recommended that you leave 8 hours between each dose to ensure your pet's safety.
Which Formulation Of Dramamine Is Best For Dogs?
Dramamine comes in a variety of forms, with one of two active ingredients: dimenhydrinate or meclizine. Standard tablets, chewable tablets, and Dramamine for kids contain dimenhydrinate and should all be fine for dogs to consume with proper dosage.
"All-Day/Less Drowsy" forms of the medication use meclizine since it has less of a sedative effect, and it should be equally safe.
"Non-Drowsy Naturals" tablets are not safe, however, since they contain a high amount of ginger. Ginger is safe for dogs in small amounts, but not in the high concentration that this form of Dramamine contains.
Can My Dog Overdose On Dramamine?
Just like people, your dog can overdose on just about any medication. The most common reason for dogs overdosing on medicine (aside from pet owners not following vet directions) is chewing up the bottle of medication and ingesting it.
Always make sure that you keep the bottle of medication out of your pet's reach and behind a cabinet door.
Overdosing on Dramamine forms that contain meclizine will usually only result in increased sedation or hyperactivity, but extreme amounts could cause your dog to hallucinate, have seizures, urinary retention, or an increased heart rate.
Overdoses on dimenhydrinate could lead to seizures, coma, hypoventilation or death. If you notice any signs of toxicity in your dog, call a vet immediately.
If it is treated fast enough their system can be purged, saving them from any permanent effects to their health.
Always monitor your dog's condition when giving them any kind of medication. Make sure that you are aware of the side effects of taking the prescription that they are on, watch for signs of a worsening condition, and if you notice that they are exhibiting signs of an overdose, get help as soon as you can. The faster it is taken care of, the better your dog's chances of recovering.
How To Administer Dramamine To Your Dog
While you probably understand the importance of speaking to your vet first by this point, just to reiterate: For proper instructions on administering Dramamine or any other medication to your dog, speak with your vet first. They can give you the safest and most appropriate advice.
How To Time Dramamine Dosages
If you are timing your dosages correctly, the effects of one Dramamine dose should be wearing off as the effects of a new dose are beginning to take hold.
In general, waiting 8 hours between dosages is the best route to go. If you're giving your dog Dramamine for a road trip, wait until just 30 minutes before you are about to leave before administering a Dramamine dose.
If you are giving your pet Dramamine over an extended period of time and miss a dosage at a time prescribed by your vet, call them for advice on how to proceed.
How To Give Your Dog A Dramamine Dose
It's not uncommon for dogs to be reluctant to take medication. There is the fool-proof method of crushing the medication up into a favorite meal or treat for your dog, which will work most of the time. You can also purchase a "pill popper" online or at your local pet store.
These are tube-like devices that hold the pill in one end. You put the tube into their mouth with the end containing the pill near the back of their mouth, and release the pill. This prevents them from being able to spit the pill out and works well for medications that are best left intact.
These are relatively affordable and will come in handy every time your dog needs to take a medication.
How Long To Give Your Dog Dramamine
How long you give your dog doses of Dramamine depends on what your dog is being treated for. If you're just making a road trip and want to keep your friend from being scared/sick along the way, then a one-time dosage is perfectly fine.
If you are treating them for a long-term condition, speak with your vet about the length of administration. They will help you monitor your dog's health, determine an appropriate time to take your pet off of the medicine and walk you through the process of waning them off the drug.
Alternatives To Dramamine For Treating Motion Sickness In Dogs
While Dramamine is a great way to treat motion sickness and nausea in dogs, some owners may choose not to give it to their pet. Whether it's due to an antihistamine allergy, or simply wanting to give your pet something for natural, it's perfectly reasonable to want an alternative medication for your pet.
CBD works by stimulating your ECS system, which is responsible for regulating your dog's mood, sleep, appetite, and more. It works similarly to vitamin and can reduce nausea quickly and naturally, as well as reduce travel-related anxiety.