As almost any dog owner can attest, dogs often experience the same sort of maladies as humans do – from hay fever to upset stomachs, humans share a lot in common with dogs. There may even be moments when you want to give your fur baby something from your own medicine cabinet to alleviate their misery. But chances are, it’s not the safest decision.
In fact, most experts will agree that giving your dog medications intended for humans can be downright dangerous, as there are a number of risks involved, including but not limited to adverse reactions, overdosing, and administering treatments that are inappropriate for your dog’s specific condition. It is therefore very important to consult a licensed veterinarian before giving your dog any type of medicine, whether it’s a prescription drug or an over-the-counter treatment.
This article will explore the pros and cons of Dramamine and how it may be helpful in the event of motion sickness or nausea in dogs.
Understanding The Medication: What Is Dramamine?
Dramamine® (generic name Dimenhydrinate) is an antihistamine and an antiemic drug that is commonly used by humans to regulate the symptoms of motion sickness. The primary active ingredient, Dimenhydrinate, may be regarded as a weaker form of diphenhydramine (the main ingredient found in most U.S. Benadryl® allergy products). Dimenhydrinate is actually a combination of diphenhydramine and a mild stimulant known as 8-chlorotheophylline, which helps to inhibit drowsiness and sedation.
This medication works by inhibiting stimulation of the vestibular system of the brain, which is located within the inner ear and is responsible for detecting motion. Dramamine blocks certain neurotransmitters, preventing the passage of information from the vestibular apparatus (middle ear) and inner ear to the part of the brain associated with coordination of reflex actions (such as vomiting and swallowing). Dogs as well as humans can experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness and stumbling when there is an excessive amount of overstimulation to the vestibular system.
Although Dimenhydrinate is not approved for use in animals by the FDA, it is prescribed legally be veterinarians as an extra-label drug. While it is primarily used to treat motion sickness in dogs, it has also been administered by vets to treat general anxiety in dogs and used as a sedative. Your vet may also prescribe it to treat nausea unrelated to motion-sickness, such as symptoms that relate to inner-ear (vestibular) disease, which is prevalent in older dogs.
How Can Dramamine Help My Dog?
In many instances, people who suffer from motion sickness will take Dramamine when they’re about to travel long distances by car, train, plane or even boat. Also known as ‘travel sickness’, motion sickness describes symptoms that are experienced while traveling; symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue.
Much like their human counterparts, dogs are also prone to motion sickness during long trips; however, some studies show that in 95% of cases, it is stress-induced and not motion-related. Because pets are comfortable in familiar surroundings, removing your dog from his environment is likely to cause him stress and anxiety, unless he’s used to traveling frequently.
Since traveling of any kind can be extremely stressful for your dog, you may wish to discuss the possibility of administering Dramamine with your veterinarian for such occasions. Your vet may decide this medication is a suitable treatment for your dog’s motion sickness, which may include symptoms such as:
- Excessive drooling
- Nervous pacing
- Panting or rapid breathing
- Persistent licking or smacking of the lips
- Uneasiness or anxiety
- Vomiting (even on an empty stomach)
- Whining, whimpering or barking
- Fear of cars
As mentioned, Dramamine hasn’t received FDA consent for canine usage; however, your vet may prescribe this medication as an extra-label drug. Although the way the drug is being utilized may not fit into the FDA’s regulatory guidelines, it is still legal as long as the practitioner is certain that its usage is medically appropriate. Dramamine acts as a sedative, which may allow your dog to relax and alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness.
Did You Know…
Oftentimes, your dog may have a negative association with rides in the car – for example, being taken to the kennel, a trip to the vet, or even away from his first home. So it should come as no surprise that your pooch may become easily upset when it’s time to get into the family vehicle, considering the mental, physical and/or psychological trauma associated with traveling.
Keeping this in mind, you can help to make your dog more comfortable for future trips – many experts suggest crate training your dog at home to get your dog accustomed to being in a ‘safe’ space. Encourage your dog to sleep in his crate, and make it a comfortable and inviting space by putting pillows, blankets, toys and other familiar items inside.
Treats are also a great way to coax your dog into his crate or carrier. Leave the door open at all times, and let your pup come and go as he pleases. Once you’ve established that the crate is a safe haven, it may be easier to make the transition during car-trips and other forms of travel.
Speak To Your Vet: Is Dramamine An Appropriate Treatment For Your Dog?
Whether it’s a prescription drug or an over-the-counter treatment, you should always speak to your trusted veterinarian first before giving your dog any type of medication. While you are at your dog’s check-up, it’s important to have his complete medical history available, including any medications he may be currently taking.
In addition, if you have specific questions about his condition, be sure to go over any signs or symptoms that you have observed. Once your vet has given your dog a physical examination, he or she will be able to determine the cause of his symptoms, and whether or not they are solely based on motion sickness or are indicative of some other underlying health issue.
What Are The Side-Effects Of Dramamine For Dogs?
As a pet owner, it’s crucial to be aware of the side-effects of Dramamine in the event that your vet’s office deems it an appropriate therapy for your dog. Be sure to inform your vet or clinician of any medications/supplements your dog is currently taking to avoid potential drug interactions, and ask if Dramamine can worsen a preexisting medical condition.
Some common side-effects that occur in dogs who have been treated with Dramamine include:
- Dry mouth
- Urine retention (i.e., an inability to fully empty the bladder)
Dogs who receive Dramamine tablets containing the ingredient meclizine may experience sedation. In rare cases, they may also experience rapid heart rate, hyperactivity, or dry eyes. Sedative effects often become less frequent with repeated usage. It’s important to monitor your dog once you’ve given him Dramamine, particularly if it’s his first time taking the drug. If you notice any unusual or adverse side-effects, be sure to contact your vet right away to discuss next steps.
Caution: In some instances, your dog may experience diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or weight loss; however, these are extreme side-effects and should be reported immediately to your vet or emergency pet clinic.
Important: If your dog has any of the following health conditions, use Dramamine only after you’ve consulted your veterinarian:
- Hypersensitivity or allergies to Dramamine or other antihistamines
- Bladder neck obstruction
- Gastric outflow obstruction
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Lung disease
- Pregnant or nursing
- Prostate disease/enlarged prostate
- Seizure disorders
- Stomach/intestinal obstruction
- Urinary obstruction
Additionally, please note that Dramamine may interact with the following drugs:
- CSN (central nervous system) depressants
- Anticholinergic drugs
- Anticoagulants (may decrease the effects)
- Epinephrine (may increase the effects)
In addition, Dramamine may have fewer side-effect if given with food. Speak to your vet regarding the best ways to administer this medication to your dog if it is prescribed.
Dramamine Dosage & Your Dog: Always Ask Your Vet
As discussed, Dramamine is frequently used by people to manage the symptoms of motion sickness, and your veterinarian may deem it a feasible option for your dog, too. However, it’s essential to know the appropriate dosing information – depending on your pooch’s weight/size, breed, existing medical conditions, types of medications he’s taking, or underlying health issues, following the express instructions of your vet is crucial to your pet’s well-being and safety. It cannot be stressed enough that in the case of any medication, Dramamine should never be given to your dog without consulting your vet first.
Dramamine & The Risk Of Canine Overdose
To avoid the risk of overdosing your pet, please review the following signs and symptoms of Dramamine overdose in dogs:
- Extreme sedation
- Rapid heart rate
- Urinary retention
It’s of utmost importance to monitor your dog during his Dramamine therapy – be on the lookout for signs of toxicity, including lethargy, respiratory depression, and seizures in dogs, as such symptoms can indicate an overdose and lead to death if untreated.
If you suspect your dog is experiencing an overdose, contact your veterinarian, emergency animal hospital or the ASPCA Pet Poison Helpline (1-800-213-6680) or the Animal Poison Control Center Helpline (1-888-426-4435). In most cases, you will be instructed to induce vomiting if the tablets were swallowed very recently.
Giving Your Dog Dramamine: Tips For Administration
As a disclaimer, the following tips only apply if you’ve received the express consent of your veterinarian to give Dramamine to your dog. It is essential to follow your vet’s instructions when administering your dog’s dosages; be sure to ask questions pertaining to your dog’s diet and other daily rituals to ensure safe drug administration:
Here are some general guidelines to discuss with your vet in the event that he or she prescribes Dramamine to your dog:
- Timing Dosages: The timing of the dosage plays an important role in determining how effective it will be in treating your dog’s motion-sickness. Therefore, be sure to ask your vet the precise time when it comes to administration – many studies show that it is most effective when given a half an hour to an hour prior to traveling, but confirm with your vet first. It is also important not to miss any dosages – if you do, contact your vet’s office for guidance.
- Monitoring Your Dog’s Health: Because Dramamine is formulated for humans, it’s crucial to keep tabs on your dog’s reaction to the medication if your vet prescribes it to him. If you notice any serious side-effects or adverse reactions, be sure to contact your veterinarian or emergency pet clinic immediately. If your dog vomits after taking Dramamine, it is most likely an indication he cannot tolerate it.
- Length of Administration: The duration of administration is dependent on several factors: which condition your dog is being treated for, how he is responding to Dramamine, and if he has developed any adverse reactions. Be sure to complete your dog’s prescription unless your veterinarian specifies otherwise. Even if your dog shows signs of improvement, the entire course of treatment should be completed to prevent a relapse in symptoms.
Is Dramamine Safe For My Dog?
While Dramamine has been used by veterinarians in many cases as an effective treatment for motion sickness, reducing anxiety, and symptoms associated with inner-ear disease, it must always be approved by your vet before giving to your dog. As stated earlier, be sure to monitor your dog’s behavior and physical state carefully once you have given him a dosage, particularly if it’s his first time taking the medication.
Be mindful of negative side-effects, and report any adverse reactions to your vet’s office immediately. If you have additional questions about dosage information, drug side-effects/ interactions with other medications, or other similar inquiries, do not hesitate to call your vet’s office for assistance.
Did You Know…
Taking a break can make all the difference when it comes to traveling with your pet – while some dogs can travel hours without having any issues, others begin to get queasy after just a few miles. If you’re driving and able to stop intermittently at rest-stops, it’s helpful to know your dog’s traveling patterns. Stopping at least every 1-2 hours to take a quick walk and some fresh air can help alleviate your dog’s motion sickness – and make your trip much more pleasant for the both of you!
Natural Treatments for Dog Nausea
Many pet parents who do not feel comfortable giving their dog Metoclopramide choose to go with safe, natural treatments for dog nausea and vomiting with little to no side effects. One such product is Canna-Pet®.
Canna-Pet® delivers high-quality, life-enriching, all-organic pet products that provide hemp and other compounds and are used by hundreds of pet parents whose fur babies struggle with nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal disorders. It is safe, veterinarian-recommended, and covered by major pet insurance companies.