Holiday Travel: How can I prevent my little dog or cat from getting car sick?


While many dogs absolutely love nothing more than hopping in the car and going for a ride, some dogs do suffer from motion sickness and will get car sick. This is true for cats, too.

In researching the issue most of the advice I found revolved around conditioning pets to avoid having a negative association with going for a car ride. For example if your pet only goes for a ride in the car to see the vet, try taking a short pleasure ride every now and again, just for the fun of it. Other common recommendations are:

  • Don’t feed your pet for several hours before going for a ride
  • Be sure to crack the windows to equalize the air pressure inside with the air pressure outside
  • Get a dog seat belt to restrain your dog and help to persuade him or her to face forward.

A word of caution: When deployed air bags can injure dogs. If you use a dog seat belt in the front seat, move the seat as far back as possible.

The good news is that experts say car sickness is very common in puppies but that most will grow out of it. This piece of conventional wisdom leads me to my own theory and potential solution for motion sickness based on experience travelling with pets.

I think small/short dogs and cats are more susceptible to motion sickness because they are not tall enough to see the entire landscape out of the car windows. They can’t see the ground but may see tree tops whizzing by…such a perspective must be quite disorienting. My suggestion as a potential solution is similar to the third recommendation above: persuade your dog to face forward while traveling. The only problem is that a tiny dog or cat is not tall enough for that solution to work.

Pet Booster Seats

Before I started working in the pet industry I didn’t even know that pet booster seats existed. I was pleasantly surprised to discover them but also surprised to find that none of them suggest they may be helpful in avoiding motion sickness for small pets. The manufacturers of pet booster seats generally describe the benefit as boosting your pet up so he or she can have a good view. And they leave it at that.

So I contacted one of the country’s major manufacturers of pet booster seats and asked straight out: do you have any evidence such as customer input that these booster seats can help a small dog avoid getting sick in the car. Without hesitation the answer to my question was a resounding “yes”.

I am not sure why they would not add such a potential benefit to the description of their booster seats. Perhaps they don’t realize how valuable a solution would be to those of us who have pets that get ill in the car. Motion sickness makes travelling very stressful for both pet and owner; not to mention very messy and smelly.

If nothing else has worked you really ought to try a pet booster seat

While I cannot guarantee a pet booster seat would solve the issue for every tiny dog, I will say it is definitely worth a try. As far as a solution for cats you might try covering the pet carrier with a lightweight fabric so the cat cannot see out of the carrier. Make sure the fabric is lightweight and breathable so air can circulate in the carrier. I hope this advice is helpful. Please let us know! In the meantime, here’s wishing you and your pets a happy and safe holiday season from all of us at America’s Pet Store.

Pet Doors — What are They Made Out of?

doggiedoor2Most flexible pet door flaps are made with PVC vinyl. This is also true of most flexible flaps on dog house doors.

These days more and more people are becoming concerned about having PVC vinyl products containing phthalates in their home. Phthalates are used in the manufacturing of thousands of vinyl/PVC products to make the vinyl soft and pliable. While inconclusive, some research studies have indicated that phthalates are “endocrine disrupters” that may cause harm to the human reproductive system.

Research aside, many people just use their own experience to make a decision on whether or not PVC vinyl is harmful to their home environment. While some people are very sensitive to the chemicals in vinyl; many others do not seem to be bothered at all.

Most flexible pet door flaps are made with PVC vinyl whereas pet doors with rigid flaps are often made with Lexan or Plexiglas. It’s the phthalates in the PVC Vinyl that makes the flap flexible enough so that it is safe for pets to use without risking injury. Rigid pet flaps, common on many commercial kennel doors, are often more challenging to use with smaller or timid pets entering or exiting the door. The big plus for kennels is it is very hard to destroy a rigid dog door flap; they can take a lot of use and abuse and still last for years.

However, for the price, ease of use, and their dog’s safety, a flexible flap is often desired by most pet owners. The good news is that if you are sensitive to PVC vinyl products there are attractive alternatives available to you – without compromising flexibility, safety, quality or longevity of the flap. A premium rigid flap pet door brand is PlexiDor.  They have top-swing and saloon-style doors that are of the highest quality, easy to use, and whisper quiet.  The doors are beautifully designed to use in any home and durable enough to handle the most demanding applications.

The amazing Endura Flap pet doors give you the best of a flexible and a rigid flap, and comes with a 15-year manufacturer’s warranty.  Endura flaps are NOT made with PVC vinyl. Instead, a polyolefin-based polymer is used (similar to material used in food storage containers) which is a non-toxic material that is safe for your home environment and is 100% recyclable. Endura flap dog doors are available in 4 styles: door mount, wall mount, window inserts and sliding glass door inserts.

And the airtight flaps on Freedom Pet Pass doors are also a terrific alternative.  The doors meet the highest standards in energy efficiency for pet doors and the flaps are made of a flexible rubber covered in tough marine-grade canvas. Door and wall mount models are available.


October Caption Contest

America’s Pet Store — October Caption Contest

This month we are releasing a photo for a caption contest across our social profiles — Facebook, Twitter and G+.

All you have to do is Like or Follow the profile you enter on and add a caption to the photo that you think fits best! You may enter one time per social profile. The contest will close on Wednesday, October 16th and the winner will be announced the following day. The prize for the winner will be a $15 Starbucks card!

We can’t wait to see what you come up with — get to captioning and you could be sippin’ on a Pumpkin Spice Latte in no time!

Are shock collars safe for my pet?

If you have no experience with shock collars one of your very first questions about them is likely to be about safety. After all, no responsible dog owner would ever want to scare or injure their dog. Shock collars, when used responsibly and according to instruction, are perfectly safe for dogs.

Are Shock Collars SafeRead and follow instructions

The first thing to note is that most manufacturers suggest that dogs be at least 6 months old, and many also have minimum weight requirements. Most PetSafe static collars, for example, require dogs to be at least 8 pounds. In addition, all manufacturers warn that shock collars are not for aggressive dogs. If you have an aggressive dog it is very important that you seek the services of a qualified professional dog trainer.

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Bring the Dog! Top Five Dog-Friendly Cities

It is important to note that the vast majority of American cities, large and small, are most likely dog-friendly to one degree or another. So how do you choose the top five? In this case I am relying on input from America’s Pet Store customers.

New York City

Prospect Park Dog BeachYou may be surprised that New York City is in our top five picks of dog-friendly cities in the U.S.A. There are 120 dog parks run by the NYC Parks and Recreation Department as well as a dog beach…no kidding…in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Dogs (not people) are allowed to swim during the park’s off-leash hours which are before 9 AM and after 9 PM.

If that’s not enough, there is also a place where dog’s can swim indoors year-round. Water4Dogs in Manhattan is first and foremost a rehabilitation facility for dogs who may be recovering from knee, hip, and back surgeries. However they do have “open swim” hours that is limited to six dogs. Six lucky dogs.

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