This content was reviewed by veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Racine, DVM.
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Do you envy fellow dog owners who can take their dogs everywhere in the car? You’ve tried, but your dog gets car sick. It’s a challenging problem for both you and your pup, but rest assured — there are steps you can take to help with your dog’s motion sickness. How can you help your dog’s car sickness (and save yourself the headache of cleaning up from your dog throwing up in the car)? Read on to learn our tips to nip dog car sickness in the bud.
First, can dogs get car sick? Yes. Dog car sickness typically affects puppies and younger dogs more than mature pups. This is because younger dogs’ ears aren’t fully developed, and that tends to offset their balance. Puppies are also smaller and can’t see out the window as well to orient themselves.
Why does my dog throw up in the car? Like with humans, stress can play a big role in many behavioral concerns, including car sickness. For example, if you’ve only taken your dog in the car to visit the vet, he may associate the car ride with a negative or worrisome experience. Or perhaps he threw up once before in the car and now associates car rides with feeling sick.
Dog motion sickness doesn’t always mean your dog throws up in the car. There are other signs to look for in your dog that differ from human motion sickness, including:
- Excessive licking of lips
- Drooling more than usual
- Exaggerated swallowing
- Immobility or not moving around the car at all
Puppy Car Sickness Experience
Our puppy was around four months old when we went on a road trip with him. He was sitting in the backseat, and there were a lot of winding roads. Out of nowhere, he threw up! I thought it could have been his heartworm medication that he took for the first time the day before. But, after talking to the vet, we believe it was due to motion sickness. Then, he threw up again a few months later while also in the backseat. Now we know to hold him in the front seat so he can see out the window or put him on something high up to see out the window and avoid getting sick. – Sadie C., Canine Journal
How Long Does Motion Sickness Last In Dogs?
Puppies can experience motion sickness until they are around one year old when their balance is fully developed. But that’s not to say that adult dogs don’t suffer from car sickness too. Some are just more prone to it than others.
You’re probably wondering how to help dogs with car sickness. In many cases, solving dog motion sickness can be an easy fix. But for some dogs, it’s not. Try the following tips to see if you can treat his car sickness without adding medication.
- Try taking your pup on short car trips first, especially to somewhere he’ll enjoy, like a dog park or a play date with another dog. Then build up to longer rides.
- If your dog is small, have him boosted up on a car seat so he can see out the window.
- Lower your car windows a couple of inches to let in some fresh air. Make sure your car isn’t too hot or stuffy.
- Don’t feed your dog at least 3 hours prior to car trips.
- Keep small, special treats and toys in your vehicle that he only has access to in the car.
- Put him in his crate in your car if it’s a safe, comfortable place for him. The added benefit? If he throws up, it’s contained in his crate and not on your car seats.
You might also consider getting a car seat cover to help with cleanup (plus dirt and dog hair in general).
Are the tips above not working? Or maybe your dog hasn’t outgrown car sickness? Fortunately, there’s nausea medicine for dogs and some over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help your dog with his motion sickness.
We can’t stress enough that it’s critical to consult your veterinarian before giving your pup any medication, including motion sickness medicine for dogs.
Car Sickness Medications For Dogs
Here are some dog car sickness medicine options and remedies that your vet may recommend for your dog’s car sickness.
- Anti-nausea for dogs: meclizine for dogs (Dramamine) or dimenhydrinate (Nausx) are relatively low-dose medications that can help ease nausea symptoms.
- Antihistamines: over-the-counter medications like Benadryl have a mild sedative effect to help your pup calm down while in the car. Antihistamines can also help reduce excessive panting, drooling, and other physical problems associated with stress.
- Ginger: A holistic alternative to traditional medication, ginger, either in pill or cookie form, can help ease nausea. It works best when given to your dog 30 minutes before you hit the road.
- CBD: If your dog is anxious, CBD is known to have a calming effect and might help. Let your vet know that you plan on giving your pet CBD treats or using CBD oils, especially if you are giving your dog any other medications.
Dog Car Sickness: Benadryl vs Dramamine
There’s some debate about which is better for dogs and car sickness: Benadryl or Dramamine. Both can be effective over-the-counter options but dogs should take Dramamine with a little food, and Benadryl can cause potential side effects like gastrointestinal issues. Again, we highly recommend speaking with your vet before you give your pet medications.
We found this funny video of humans illustrating how to identify dog motion sickness. If only dogs could talk like we can and tell us what they’re thinking.
As dog owners, we want to have our pups with us as much as we can. And car rides are a big part of that. We tend to spend too much time running errands or being a chauffeur for our kids — and our dogs get left behind at home. Take your time to condition your puppy or dog to car rides. Keep his stress level low if possible. And follow our tips if you need further intervention options. We also encourage you to check out these tips for safe traveling with dogs in the car, including getting a dog harness or seatbelt.Tagged With: Cars, Medication, Reviewed By Dr. Racine, DVM