5 Tips to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Car Sickness

Sad dog left alone in locked car

Have you watched the film The Art of Racing in the Rain? It's a film about a dog that was born to be a race car driver. This is all from the dog's perspective. You get to watch the pup's journey as he interacts with race car drivers and different cars and analyzes the tracks.

It's an amazing film that’ll have you smiling, laughing, and shedding a few tears. The depiction of a dog that enjoys car rides is every pet owner's dream.

In reality, traveling with dogs is a little different. You’ll notice some uneasiness and reluctance to join in the fun.

Dogs are always eager to follow their owners into almost anything. It’s not uncommon to have a pooch that follows you to the bathroom. So, why is it that every time you’re on a road trip, your dog becomes uneasy, nauseous, pants, or drools? 

How Do You Manage Motion Sickness? 

In some cases, motion sickness will pass after some time, but in others, you need a more proactive approach. 

Identify the Cause of Dog Car Sickness 

The easiest solution to a problem is understanding the cause.

What triggers your dog’s motion sickness? Is it past traumas, vestibular disease, or anxiety?

Again, consult a veterinarian to understand which trigger affects your pup. The vet will prescribe some medications or natural remedies to help ease the problem.

If the vet prescribes pills, ask if they’re safe for your dog.

Keep in mind that pets, especially canines, are notorious for disliking pill medications. Ask for a tastier version, get a pill pusher, or seek remedies that resemble treats. 

Travel on an Empty Stomach 

Nausea is among the most common signs of motion sickness in dogs. It’s the same in humans; if you get seasick, you’re likely to vomit.

The easiest way to prevent nausea is to time your dog’s meals. For example, if you intend to go on a car ride at around 2 pm, don’t feed your pet two hours before travel. If your dog hasn’t eaten, they’ll have nothing to vomit when they experience motion sickness.

The alternative would be to give your pooch small meals or treats before you travel. 

Positive Reinforcement 

When you first got your puppy, you had to train them and give treats as rewards. Try the same approach to see if it makes the car ride easier.

Start by getting into your car and ask your dog to join. Don’t turn on the vehicle. Stay in the car for several minutes, and on your way out, give your pooch a treat. Congratulate your pup for being a good boy or girl.

Repeat this several times and increase the duration. Once the dog is used to this, try riding around the neighborhood to see its reaction. If you’re getting a positive response, increase the distance, and don’t forget to reward your furry friend.

Another approach would be to buy toys and stash them in your car. Every time your dog gets into the vehicle, it gets a toy but leaves it in the car on the way out. Your pup will associate car rides with playtime and toys—this reduces anxiety and uneasiness.

If that doesn’t work, try associating car travel with fun. What’s your dog’s favorite place? Is it your parent’s house, puppy park, doggy daycare? Wherever it is, travel to these locations in your car.

Every time you ask them to travel with you, they’ll think you’re going to their favorite place. 

Open the Windows

Lower your window panes and let your dog enjoy some fresh air.

Your pet could use a little distraction from motion sickness and travel anxiety.  The easiest distraction is to open the windows and let your dog enjoy the passing view.

However, a seat belt won’t work on a canine; thus, you’ll need a carrier  to hold them. Consider buying a  puppy carrier to keep them from wandering around the back or into the front seat. This translates to less movement, distractions, and ultimately reduced motion sickness.

You could also use a dog car harness to hold your pups in place. Keep your pets facing forward and throw in a toy or two. Keep them distracted, and don’t forget to lower the windows. This will reduce the air pressure and help their brains process movement.

Also, take breaks while on your road trips, get out of the car, stroll around and continue with your ride. Your dog will appreciate potty breaks and the chance to sniff new places.

The idea is to make car rides fun for both you and your pup.

Use Calming/Anxiety Tools 

What can you do to make the car rides easier for your dog? You can try calming supplements or anti-anxiety pet wraps.

You’ll notice that once you place your dog in the back seat, they’ll try to come nearer to you. They want to cuddle you and feel close to someone. This helps ease their car sickness.

How can you help them cope? Head over to one of the local pet stores and grab an anti-anxiety pet wrap. When worn, these wraps apply pressure on your dog’s back and sides. They simulate a hugging or swaddling feeling.

Your pup will think it’s being held or has someone comforting them during the car ride. This will help reduce dog motion sickness.

It’s the same kind of vest worn by puppies and older dogs that fear fireworks, thunderstorms, etc. An anti-anxiety vest will help calm your pet but only when it’s worn properly. 

NaturVet Hemp Quiet Moments Calming Aid for Dogs - 180 count
NaturVet Hemp Quiet Moments Calming Aid for Dogs - 180 count

Another option would be calming supplements. Think of one you can give your dog during car travels. Ensure that it doesn’t have any side effects and a veterinarian approves it.

If you’re on the market for anxiety or calming medications, look for products that have natural supplements such as:

  • Thiamine Mononitrate
  • Ginger 
  • Magnolia Extracts
  • CBD oils

A good start would be our NaturVet calming aid for dogs. These treats contain ginger—a natural remedy for nausea attributed to dog motion sickness, hemp seed, thiamine mononitrate, melatonin, chamomile, etc. 

Does veterinary medicine have a side effect?
NaturVet Hemp Quiet Moments Calming Aid for Dogs - 180 count

However, be sure to consult a pet behaviorist to understand the severity of your dog’s car sickness. You can also contact us, and we’ll provide you with all the information you need about our supplements and how they can help your pup overcome motion sickness. 

What Causes Dog Motion Sickness?

Dog motion sickness varies from stress, past trauma to an underdeveloped vestibular system, and ear infections.

Since many factors trigger motion sickness in dogs, consult a veterinarian before implementing any of our suggestions.

For example, if your canine has an ear infection, traveling on an empty stomach won’t help solve the root cause of motion sickness. The same applies to an underdeveloped vestibular system as it typically affects puppies and young dogs.

In such cases, your puppy will outgrow motion sickness as its vestibular apparatus matures.

Although vestibular problems are prevalent in puppies and young dogs, they can also affect adults. You’ll often hear pet owners say that their pets have Old Dog Syndrome. It’s a balance disorder prevalent in older canines, and symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Motion sickness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Rapid eye movement 
  • Head tilting
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Falling over and staggering

Since it’s an idiopathic disorder, there’s no defined cause for the vestibular disease. 

Consult a veterinarian before you choose any over-the-counter treatment options. Some of these symptoms could point to a bigger problem, such as a stroke. 

Why Do Dogs Have Car Phobias?

Dogs associate cars with bad experiences; think about it, the first time your pet was in a car, it was probably as a puppy.

You can’t walk a young puppy until the vet is done administering the necessary injections. The only option is either your bike, car, or public transportation.

The first time your puppy was in a car was after it was separated from its parents and siblings. Separation is a traumatic event that can trigger motion sickness.

The second time was a journey to the vet to complete their injections, according to the veterinary drug handbook.

A trip to the veterinarian isn’t pleasant at all. 

Your pooch will associate car trips with separation and injections. Some dogs will experience true motion sickness; thus, you need to consult a behaviorist to know what’s triggering your pet.

Whatever it is, ensure that car rides are fun experiences for your dog. Do what you can to erase car phobia and stress. 

How to Help a Dog With Car Anxiety?

Start by understanding the triggers, seek veterinary help, and with time, the anxiety will subside. Think of ways you can calm your dog. For example, you can try using their favorite toys or calming supplements.

Try some of the supplements at our store, Doggysups. All our products are made using natural ingredients to help ease your dog’s ailments, whether it’s anxiety, skin and fur problems, or tick infestations.

We’ve got your pup covered.



Featured Image: Flickr by Jernej Furman

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