dog in car

Riding around in a car can not only be so much fun for a dog, but it also means that you have so much more choice when it comes to new places to take your pooch.

However, if your dog experiences motion sickness, this won’t be much fun for either of you…

Rather than avoiding the car, here are a few tips to help you and your dog tackle motion sickness, so that you can both enjoy long distance rides together.

What is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness in dogs is extremely similar to motion sickness in humans.

It causes a dog to feel ill, unsettled or disoriented when in a vehicle that is moving. This not only applies to cars, but also to boats and planes.

What Causes Motion Sickness in Dogs?

With humans, motion sickness tends to most commonly affect children, while with dogs, motion sickness is usually experienced by puppies.

Why is this?

For both, it is all down to the structure of the ears.

Both puppies and children are still in the growth and developmental phase of their lives, meaning that the ear structures that give them a sense of balance have not been fully formed yet.

While both puppies and children usually grow out of this, it can sometimes continue for some well into adulthood.

How do I Know if My Dog is Experiencing Motion Sickness?

Dog traveling in back of a car

If your dog is experiencing motion sickness, symptoms will include:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting and hyperventilation
  • Constant whining
  • Excessive yawning
  • Frequent lip-licking

Of course, there are other factors that could lead to those symptoms too…

Before declaring “my dog gets car sick!”, make sure that it really is motion sickness, rather than anxiety, nervousness, claustrophobia or hyperactivity.

Natural Solutions for Motion Sickness in Dogs

Dog in red car

If you have determined that it really is motion sickness your dog is suffering from, there are several natural solutions that you can turn to.

These will affect every dog in an individual way, so if one doesn’t seem to be working for your pooch, move on to the next.

Keep Your Dog’s Stomach Empty

Motion sickness is far less likely to occur on an empty stomach.

In order to ensure that your dog’s stomach really is empty, make sure that you wait at least two or three hours after your dog has eaten before setting off on a car ride.

Of course, never stop your dog from drinking as much water as needed.

Try an E-Collar/ Cone Collar

Dog with e-collar

E-collars are commonly used when a dog is recovering from an injury, to prevent them from licking or biting at a wound.

However, did you know that these same collars can also help to prevent motion sickness?
This is an easy one to try, just make sure that you use a collar that limits your dog’s peripheral vision.

Desensitization

While it may take longer to desensitize an adult dog to motion sickness, this is a technique that is extremely effective with puppies.

How do you do it?

Simply begin with a short car ride, preferably to somewhere that your puppy will find enjoyable.

Keep doing a short journey each day, even if this is just to the end of your road.

You can then slowly build this up once you can see that your dog’s tolerance is increasing.

Cool Temperatures and Air Flow

Keeping the temperature in your car cool will prevent your dog from over-heating.

The best way to do this is by opening the windows, instead of using air conditioning.

Why?

Because the flow of air through the car will help to even out the air pressure, which will have positive effects on your dog’s inner ear balance.

A Front-Facing Window Seat

Dog sitting in front seat

Some dogs find it difficult to understand the visual aspects that come with travel, and this can lead to the feeling of disorientation and sickness.

To overcome this, try placing your dog in a window seat that is facing forward, ensuring that they have a view of the front window. This can really help them with their balance.

Herbal Remedies

There are many natural herbs out there that can help to tackle some of the symptoms of motion sickness in dogs.

These include:

Ginger – this has long since been used to treat motion sickness. While your dog will unlikely eat plain ginger, try a ginger cookie or a ginger supplement capsule instead

Peppermint – again, this is best given in cookie form. Alternatively, brew some peppermint tea before your journey, and allow your dog to sip on this once the motion sickness starts

Valerian – this herb has calming properties, and will help to reduce the anxiety that often accompanies motion sickness. Valerian is readily available as a supplement, and is often pre-mixed with skullcap, which is discussed below

Skullcap – acts as a mild sedative, enabling your dog to better cope with the journey

Homeopathic treatments are also very popular, such as Homepet’s Travel Anxiety. This is not a tranquiliser or sedative, meaning it’s non-sedating, non-habit forming and works rapidly. It also has no side effects, is formulated by Veterinarians.

While many may simply avoid taking their dog in a car if motion sickness is experienced, there are so many natural solutions to the problem that you may as well try a few.

Many dogs easily overcome motion sickness, so just try to be consistent and give these methods some time to work.

If you are looking for more resources, check out the work from Dr. Karen Becker and Dogs Naturally for more information on motion sickness. 

What helps your dog deal with motion sickness?

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