• September 14th, 2021
    Written by: Kimberly

    Traveling with your dog is one of the joys of dog ownership for many people. From driving up to the mountains for a hike or heading to sit on the patio of your favorite restaurant, you probably want to take your dog with you. More necessary trips to the vet or boarding are also easier when your dog is enthusiastic about the car ride.

    Knowing why your dog gets car sick and what you can do to fix it can help make car rides more pleasant for both of you.

    What Causes Car Sickness?

    Dogs experience motion sickness in cars for the same reasons people do. It has to do with the sense of balance provided by inner ear structures. As puppies and young dogs, the inner ear structures are still developing and your dog may get nauseous while riding in the car when he is young. Most dogs will go out of this, but not all.

    Even if your dog grows out of car sickness, after the initial unpleasant experience, the thought of riding in the car may trigger your dog’s stress and anxiety. This could make him sick all on its own, without any inner ear problems.

    Another factor may be stress. If your dog only ever gets to ride in the car to go to the vet, the groomers, and other places he doesn’t like, he may associate the car with negative experiences and make himself sick with worry.

    How to Help Your Dog’s Car Sickness

    If car sickness makes your dog hesitant to get in the car, there are a few steps you can take to lessen the symptoms. These include:

    • Start Small - Beginning with a ride around the block and working up to longer trips can help desensitize your dog to feelings of motion sickness.
    • Limit Food and Water - For a short time before you get in the keep, keep your dog from eating or drinking. With nothing in his stomach, he is less likely to feel nauseous or vomit.
    • Open the Windows - A little bit of fresh air can help calm your dog’s stomach. As always, remember that it is dangerous for your dog to stick his head out of the window.
    • Turn on the AC - Whether you open the windows or turn on the air conditioning, keeping the car cool will help calm anxiety.
    • Try a Seatbelt or Crate - Looking out side windows can make your dog feel queasier than looking out the windshield. A dog seat belt or a crate will keep him looking forward, limiting sick feelings and movement. It is also safer if you are in an accident.

    You may also want to speak with your vet about medication for motion sickness in your dog. These treatments can help limit the symptoms of car sickness and make travel more comfortable for your pup, particularly if you have a long car trip ahead of you.