Easy Rider: How to Deal With Dog Car Sickness

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Dog head out car window with goggles: How to Deal With Dog Car SicknessDo you envy fellow dog owners who can take their dogs everywhere in the car? You’ve tried, but your dog gets car sick at the drop of a hat. It’s a tough problem for both you and your pup, but rest assured — there are steps you can take. And, you’re not alone. In fact, one in five dogs suffer from 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.

What Causes Car Sickness in Dogs?

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. But that’s not to say that adult dogs don’t suffer from car sickness. Some are just more prone to it than others. Stress can also play a big role in a number of 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.

What Are the Signs of Dog Car Sickness?

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 his lips and/or panting
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Yawning
  • Repeated sneezing
  • Whining
  • Immobility; not moving around the car at all

We found this funny video to illustrate how to identify dog motion sickness. Enjoy!

How Do You Treat Dog Motion 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, especially to somewhere he’ll enjoy, like a dog park or a play date with another dog.
  • Lower your car windows a couple of inches to let in fresh air. Make sure your car isn’t too hot or stuffy.
  • Don’t feed your dog prior to car trips.
  • Keep small, special treats and toys in your car 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.
  • Have your dog face forward in the car. There are specially designed dog seat belts that help him face forward instead of looking out the side windows of the car, as dogs usually do.

Are There Any Medications That Can Help?

Is behavior modification not working? Or maybe your dog hasn’t outgrown car sickness? There are some over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help your dog with his motion sickness. We can’t stress enough that it’s important to consult your veterinarian before giving your pup any kind of medication. If you get the okay from your vet, it’s not always easy to administer the medicine yourself. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has some good tips to help you get that pill down.

Here are some medications and remedies that your vet may recommend for your dog’s car sickness.

  • Anti-nausea medication: meclizine or dimenhydrinate are relatively low-dose medications that can help ease nausea symptoms.
  • Antihistamines: over-the-counter medications that 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 given to your dog 30 minutes before you hit the road.

You Can Help Your Dog Be an Easier Rider

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.

What works best for you to ease your dog’s motion sickness?

Sally grew up in a feline-only home, but cat allergies in her early 20’s made it an easy transition to dog ownership. And she couldn’t be happier with her canine shadow, who’s been at her side (literally) for years. No longer a cat person for obvious reasons, Sally is now a true bone-ified dog lover.

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