Canine Car Sickness: What To Do About It

Behavior to watch for in your dog while traveling include excessive drooling, listlessness, uneasiness, and more — these could be signs of car sickness. (Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Behavior to watch for in your dog while traveling include excessive drooling, listlessness, uneasiness, and more — these could be signs of car sickness. (Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Traveling with your dog is always a joy — especially when you have your own ride. It’s an opportunity to expose your canine companion to various experiences that can help socialize him. Yet what if your dog suddenly doesn’t feel right during or after the car ride — as in he just threw up all over the seat?

Dog motion sickness is real and it can happen even during the shortest car rides. Preventing canine car sickness and even treating it can help make that trip to the dog park — or anywhere else — a lot more pleasant.

Why Canine Carsickness Happens

As human children are more affected by motion sickness than adults, the same goes for younger dogs and puppies. The younger ones experience motion sickness because the ear structure responsible for balance is not fully developed. Some dogs outgrow motion sickness, but others don’t.

If your dog was sick during the first car ride, vomiting may only be associated with the travel, and may be the reason why your best friend may never outgrow getting ill inside the car. Canine carsickness may also be triggered by stress — especially if the destination of the car ride is the vet.


(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Preventing Canine Carsickness

Most carsickness episodes in dogs are brought about by stress and not the motion itself. You dog may just very well associate traveling with vomiting or anxiety. The ultimate destination of the entire trip is usually what makes your dog worried and sick. A vet visit or a kennel stay can be common concerns your dog has. Mental, emotional, and even physical trauma may be related to the car ride. Here are some ways to keepyourdog from getting carsick:

  1. Transform your dog’s perception of the car and pet travel. Find a relaxing, peaceful place that’s wide open, much like a park. Choose one that’s about 10 minutes from your house. Bring someone who can calm your dog as you drive towards your destination. Once you reach the park, play with your dog — just make the park visit enjoyable. During the ride home, have the other person calm your dog again. When you arrive home, play with your dog as enthusiastically as you did at the park. After a few hours of rest, feed your dog treats. Doing this repeatedly will make your dog realize the car ride should not be a reason to get sick.
  2. Make sure your dog has an empty stomach before the ride. Most dogs don’t get carsick when their stomachs are empty. It’s ideal not to give your furry companion any food, approximately 6-8 hours before the ride. Just see to it that your dog doesn’t ingest any solid food before the car ride. You can give your dog some water instead. This may or may not work for your dog. Other dogs want something in their stomach to prevent motion sickness.
  3. Make frequent stops. Some dogs who can handle hours of car rides; others can’t. A good rule of thumb is stop the car after an hour or two, just to walk around and have some bathroom time. You can also give him some ice or water during the break.
  4. Get someone to distract your dog. Have your human traveling companions distract your dog through play, so bring your dog’s favorite toys with you.
  5. Drive by some scenery and make sure your dog sees it. Adjust their seats or use pet car seats, so they can look out the window while staying secure. Scenery prevents motion sickness.
  6. Turn off the AC and open the windows. It’s good to let some fresh air into the car, and it helps prevent carsickness in your passengers. Make sure your dog wears protective eyewear because the sudden rush of air can damage his eyes.
  7. Try to change your vehicle. When you travel, opt for a larger car. Perhaps your dog won’t feel as carsick is there’s more room.
  8. If all else fails, ask your vet about motion sickness medication. Vets usually prescribe Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate), which is also used by people who have motion sickness. Talk to your vet about the right dosage for your pet. A pet calmer (all natural) can yield favorable results as well. A holistic preventive measure is spraying peppermint, ginger, or chamomile scents in the car. Try various measures on your dog to figure out what works best.

Warning Signs of Carsickness in Dogs

Awareness is key. These are the canine carsickness signs to watch out for when you travel with your dog:

  • Listlessness
  • Too much drooling
  • Constant yawning
  • Incessant whining
  • Vomiting
  • Uneasiness
  • Inactivity

Be prepared for that special drive with your dog. Make sure your furry companion is as comfortable as you are during travel.