Bear, a beautiful, friendly labradoodle, is housebroken, gets along with other dogs, and is fun to take on walks: in short, she’s the perfect companion. Bear has just one persistent issue: motion sickness. It happens on longer road trips in particular. For instance, on a car ride from Seattle to Vancouver, Washington, her little pooch stomach was less than happy, and she threw up. Everywhere.
Motion sickness is a common problem for dogs as well as humans. So what do we do about it?
Why do dogs get car sick?
Most pet parents and dog sitters face dog car sickness at one time or another. Younger dogs are more likely to suffer from car sickness because their vestibular system isn’t yet fully developed. The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, helps maintain equilibrium, and infection or another issue may cause car sickness in adult dogs.
Anxiety is another primary cause of car sickness in dogs, which may be due to a history of trouble with travel or previous traumatic experiences associated with travel.
If your dog shows the signs of canine motion sickness, it’s best to check with your vet to help determine the cause.
Symptoms of car sickness in dogs
Not all dogs will actually vomit in the car, though Bear stands as a prime example of the type of dog who does.
Other common symptoms of motion sickness in dogs include:
- Excessive lip licking
- Excessive drooling
- Yawning or listlessness
How to prevent dog car sickness
Car rides with your dog are inevitable. There are a lot of solutions for helping prevent motion sickness for your dog, and some are very simple.
- Take frequent short trips to get your dog accustomed to traveling in a vehicle.
- Crack the windows for fresh air.
- Cultivate a calm and quiet environment inside the car.
- Bring a favorite toy or blanket to provide your dog with the comforting smell of home.
- Make sure your dog can see out of the window. For small dogs, the safe option to boost them to window level is the adorable Rocketeer which works in concert with your car’s rear seatbelt.
- Feed your dog less before a car trip, but an empty stomach may cause nausea as much as a full stomach.
- When driving, take frequent breaks to get out and walk around.
Tools for prevention
Keep your dog safe, comfy, and stationary with a harness. According to multiple independent consumer research organizations, this harness is by far the most effective. It even passed the child-rated crash safety tests conducted by The Center for Pet Safety.Buy Now on Amazon for $89.88
Riding in a carrier can be effective for smaller breeds, providing that homey, den feeling as well as giving you peace of mind about your dog’s safety. This carrier received a five-star rating from the crash test gurus at The Center for Pet Safety.Buy Now on Amazon for $99.95
Other options include the super-comfy Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed Robin Egg Blue Limited Edition and the InnoPet Commuter, Black.
For larger dogs, a kennel can make a nervous traveler feel like they have a safe place to ride and keep your dog from moving around the car. Gunner Kennels are like a safe, cozy fortress-den for your motion sick larger dog.Buy Now on Amazon for $349.52
For the worried traveling dog, try anti-anxiety tools such as a good calming collar. Calming collars release pheromones that provide a calming effect for some dogs. This collar is recommended for situations such as loud noises.Buy Now on Amazon for $11.22
Another anti-anxiety product that may help a nervous traveler’s stomach is a pressure wrap. Think of it as a warm hug. Though there are little studies to back up the use of pressure wrapping to calm your dog, there’s a ton of anecdotal support for these jackets. This jacket is consistently reviewed highly.Buy Now on Amazon for $44.95
Options for dog car sickness medicine
1. Over the Counter option: Dramamine
For an over the counter motion sickness remedy for your adult dog (not appropriate for puppies), Dramamine may do the trick. Always check with your vet when giving your dog a new medication and for dosage recommendations. Side effects may include:
- Dry mouth
- Inability to fully empty bladder
2. Prescription option: Cerenia
When considering prescription medications, ask your vet about Cerenia (maropitant citrate), a recently developed motion sickness medication. With oral or injectable options, Cerenia was designed specifically for dogs and cats. Documented side effects include:
- Excessive drooling
Contact your vet about a prescription for Cerenia.
Ginger as a dog car sickness natural remedy
Ginger naturally provides relief for car sickness symptoms, particularly nausea, in both dogs and humans. There are several ways to give your dog straight ginger, including powders, teas, capsules, and tinctures. Be sure to check the dosage guidelines.
Also, many great dog goodies include ginger along with other stomach soothers such as probiotics and pumpkin. In fact, treats might create a positive association with the car, and help dogs with anxiety-related motion sickness.
The high-quality powdered ginger in these capsules can be given orally or sprinkled over food. Be sure to check with a holistic vet for dosage guidelines.Buy Now on Amazon for $7.99
These treats are grain-free. The ginger and pumpkin combination may help prevent upset travel tummy. Delicious treats will definitely give any dog positive associations with car trips.Buy Now on Amazon for $9.44
3. Homemade ginger biscuits
Check out our homemade dog gingerbread cookie recipe, a fun way to treat you carsick pup and sooth their stomach.
Natural remedies for dog motion sickness due to anxiety
As with calming collars, certain pheromones can have a calming effect on anxious travelers. Adaptil made this combination of those pheromones and lavender to apply around your pet’s car environment, which may prove to have a calming effect on your canine traveler, and therefore your travel companion’s tummy.Buy Now on Amazon for $21.23
Calming herbs – Natural remedies, including Bach flower (Rescue Remedy), kava, valerian, passionflower, ginger, and skullcap, have been used for decades to ease anxiety and motion sickness.Buy Now on Amazon for $13.65
The bottom line
If your dog exhibits signs of car sickness, your first step is to attempt to discern if the problem is rooted in a physical issue, anxiety, or a combination of both. So first, see your vet.
Once you have some theories (and maybe some vet treatment), you can then approach managing your dog’s motion sickness with tools, medications, and natural remedies. It may take some time and dedication, but don’t despair. It’s likely you’ll find a great way to manage vomit-free car trips.
If nothing seems to help, the best remedy is simply to give your dog a break from the car. Have any tips and tricks for dealing with canine motion sickness? We’d love to hear them!