How to "Curb" Car Sickness in Puppies and Dogs

Trip Planner

Pet Travel Club

Receive advance notice of pet friendly hotel & travel deals, the TWP e-newsletter, and exclusive member-only offers - like 10% OFF at the TWP Store!  

Join Now for FREE!

How to "Curb" Car Sickness in Puppies and Dogs

Pet Friendly Travel - Car SicknessMuch like humans, dogs and puppies can also experience a feeling of illness while on car trips.  This car sickness can make pet travel, whether short or long, quite an ordeal for dogs and their families.  Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your dog in the car.

The most common reasons for car sickness in puppies and dogs are:

  • The ear structures used for balance aren't fully developed in puppies. This can cause motion sickness.  Fortunately, many dogs will outgrow car sickness.
  • Stress can also add to travel sickness.   For example, if your dog has only been in the car to go to the vet, he may make himself sick from the worry and apprehension of seeing the vet.
  • If your dog has been nauseous the first few times traveling in the car as a puppy, he may have conditioned himself to see car travel as a time when he will get sick. 

You can look for some common signs of car sickness in your pet, such as:

  • Inactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive Yawning
  • Whining
  • Hyper Salivation (drooling)
  • Vomiting

Typically symptoms will go away shortly after the vehicle stops.

There are a number of treatment options available to help prevent car sickness for your puppy or dog.   Physical comfort in the car, reconditioning, medication and holistic treatments can all help to make car traveling a lot easier on your dog.  

1.  Physical Comfort in Car:  Try these options to help make the car ride as physically comfortable as possible for your dog.

  • Face your dog forward in moving vehicle – if your dog is facing forward he will see less movement.  Looking out of the side windows causes objects to blur and that can cause or compound motion sickness.
  • Avoid letting your pet travel in the farthest backseat because this is where there is the most motion.
  • Opening the windows in the car a little bit may help reduce air pressure inside the vehicle and allow for better ventilation.
  • Don’t give your puppy or dog any food for a few hours before getting in the car.
  • Try putting him in a travel crate.  Sometimes, this helps to keep him from looking outside too much and helps to keep any sickness he may have in a confined space.
  • Keep it cool in the vehicle.  A hot, stuffy ride can make car sickness worse for your dog.
  • Toys may help distract and entertain a high-strung dog.
  • Taking frequent potty breaks may also help.
  • Exercise before getting in the car to travel.

2.  Reconditioning:  Sometimes reconditioning will help your dog to relax in the car.  Reconditioning is needed if your dog associates riding in the car with something bad, like getting sick or going to the vet.  Reconditioning takes patience for both you and your dog.  Here are some tips to help recondition your dog.

  • Try a different vehicle.  He may associate your vehicle with unpleasant memories.
  • Take short car trips to places your dog enjoys.
  • Gradually build your dog’s tolerance.  Start by sitting in the car with your dog with the engine off.   Do this over a few days.  Then, when he seems comfortable, sit in the car with the car idling.  After this, take a ride around the block.  Now you can try a longer trip.  By doing this slowly and over a period of time you are helping remove the stress of traveling from your dog.
  • Use treats to make the car a fun place for your dog.
  • Buy a special toy that they can only play with in the car.

3.  Medication:  There are times when medications are necessary to help your dog during pet travel.  Some over-the-counter and prescribed medications are listed below.  

  • Anti-nausea drugs - reduce vomiting.
  • Antihistamines - used to lessen motion sickness, reduce drooling, and help them to be calm.
  • Phenothiazine and related drugs - reduce vomiting and help to sedate.

Always discuss any medications with your veterinarian before using to make sure your dog is healthy, the dosage is correct, and that the medication won’t harm your dog.

4.  Holistic Approach:  Holistic treatments are another option for a dog parents to try.  Some common holistic choices are listed below.

  • Ginger can be used for nausea.  Ginger snap cookies or ginger pills can be given at least 30 minutes before travel.
  • Peppermint, chamomile and horehound naturally help calm the stomach of your pup.
  • Massage helps to relax your pet before you travel.

Always discuss any holistic remedies with your veterinarian before using to make sure your dog is healthy, the dosage is correct, and that the treatment won’t harm your dog.

Patience and training may help in preventing car sickness during pet travel. You may also need to stock up on certain medications or holistic remedies to help calm your dog if physical changes and reconditioning don’t do the trick.   Hopefully, with time and a little effort your dog will be able to ride safely and happily in your car!

Comments

TripsWithPets wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Hi Alene, It sounds like your

Hi Alene, It sounds like your little girl's barking is due to either fear/anxiety or excitement. There are some techniques you can employ to help quiet her down. However, it will take a great deal of patience! Here is some advice that I think will help! http://dogtime.com/dog-barks-car-eric-goebelbecker-faq.html
TripsWithPets wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Sounds like you have quite a

Sounds like you have quite a journey ahead of you! As far as the number of stops to make...frequent pit stops for bathroom breaks are recommended. The frequency depends on your dogs - i.e. their temperament, age, illnesses, etc... Some older dogs need more frequent breaks as do dogs who are anxious travelers. Here are a couple links to our "pet travel tips for the car" pages...one is geared specifically to cats. https://www.tripswithpets.com/twp-blog/tips-traveling-cat-car https://www.tripswithpets.com/pet-travel-tips-car I do not recommend putting your dogs in crates in a trailer. Laws differ by state, however, It is generally not a safe practice. I hope this helps. Safe Travels!
Kevin Erickson wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

We are going to be moving in

We are going to be moving in late summer are two dogs have been on short trips ( less then 10 miles) but when we move its going to be over 2500 miles, how Often should we stop to exercise the dogs and the kids, We also have a cat That has been a house cat all its life never been outside except for on a leash and been to the vet also she is very old (13 years old) we may be leaving her here with a relative it All depend on what kind of advice we can get about her moving with use? And also can the dogs (who are both crate trained) The room in the vehicle Is going to be very tight What are the laws for having your animals in crates in a trailer that is being pulled by the vehicle? Any help would be Useful?
Alene JensenAnonymous wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

We have 3 doxens, 2 boys and

We have 3 doxens, 2 boys and 1 girl. My little girl can drive you absolutely nuts when riding in the car, She barks and barks and barks! I think it's because she's excited, but it scares one our our little boys to where he whimpers. Is this a sign of car sickness? She's never thrown up, but she gives us a headache by the time we get to our destination. HeLp! :)

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em&