10 Tips to Help Stop Motion Sickness in Dogs

Motion Sickness in Dogs and How to Stop It

August 5, 2014

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What causes motion sickness in dogs?

Motion sickness in dogs is more commonly seen in puppies and young dogs than older ones, just as car sickness afflicts more children than adults. The reason for this is because the ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed in puppies. This isn’t to say that all dogs will outgrow travel sickness, though many will.

If the first few car rides of your dog’s life left him nauseated, he may have been conditioned to equate travel with vomiting, even after his ears have fully matured. Stress can also add to travel or motion sickness, so if your dog has only ever ridden in the car to go to the vet, he may literally worry himself sick on the road.

Signs of motion sickness in dogs

Dogs don’t turn the unflattering shade of green that people do when they’re experiencing motion sickness, but there are some signs of dog travel sickness you can learn to identify. These include:

  • Inactivity
  • Listlessness
  • Uneasiness
  • Yawning
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting

10 tips to try & stop motion sickness in dogs

If it does occur, there are things you can do make the journey more enjoyable for all and hopefully get grip of your dog’s nausea, here are 10 things you can try to help your dog overcome motion or travel sickness.

Motion sickness in dogs (travel sickness) can make even a quick trip up the road a quite stressful journey for both you and your dog. However, there are things you can do make the journey more enjoyable and hopefully to get control of your dog’s nausea.

1. Try to break old habits

Your dog may already associate a ride in your car with stress and sickness, so why not take a break from car trips for a few weeks if possible? This should give your dog a “breather” and time to relax. When you’re ready to start again, put your dog into the car and don’t actually go anywhere. Once they’ve become more relaxed and acclimatised about sitting in the car, gradually increase the amount of time spent in there without going anywhere.

  • Approach the car together in a relaxed, casual way
  • Spend time with them in the car without starting the engine
  • Try spending time with your dog in different cars

2. Build up confidence slowly

Once your dog is re-acclimatised and relaxed about being in the car, take things slowly by going on very short car trips to places your dog enjoys, like the park. Short trips around the block are good too because your dog almost certainly won’t have enough time to become ill.

3. Consult your vet

Your vet can prescribe medication to prevent motion sickness in dogs or your pet. It’s very easy to administer and lasts for a full 24 hours. Just make sure you remember to administer it to your dog at the recommended time before you leave.

4. Make sure your dog has a fairly empty stomach

Try to avoid feeding your dog for at least an hour before taking it for a ride in the car.

5. Take regular breaks

On longer trips, plan your timing so you are not rushing and make sure you stop for breaks along the way so your dog can get out of the car and run around. This can usually be combined with a water and toilet stop for your dog.

6. Make sure there is plenty of fresh air

Make the car ride as comfortable as possible for your dog by balancing the air pressure inside with the air pressure outside. This is best done by opening a window just a few centimetres and will help to reduce the likelihood of nausea, as well as keeping your car cool and well-ventilated.

7. Refrain from smoking

Try to avoid smoking or doing anything else that will generate strong odours inside the car to minimise the amount of irritating sensations. This will make your journey much more enjoyable as an unwell dog is not a pleasant passenger to have.

8. Reward your dog

To make a journey in the car seem like a much more fun and rewarding event, give your dog treats for good behaviour (but don’t give too many or your car interior could be under attack!). Also give your dog a few familiar toys to play with in the car and keep these exclusively for car journeys, to heighten the familiarity and fun of each car journey.

9. Minimise things for your dog to get upset about

Try to make sure your dog has a toilet stop before getting into the car, as that will be one less thing for your dog to get upset about once the journey is under way.

10. Create a safe and comfortable space for your dog

Try to give your dog a comfortable and quiet place inside the car, even taking along a familiar blanket for extra reassurance. And make sure your dog has enough room to lie down comfortably. If your dog is restless in a car, perhaps consider buying a crate or carrier.

These tips have been devised from various pet owners’ experiences of travelling with animals. And although they’ve been designed to create a better travelling experience for both you and your dog, if travel sickness persists, speak to your vet about any other preventative measures you can take to make yours and your dog’s journeys more relaxing and enjoyable.



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