Helping Pups with Car Sickness

Helping Pups with Car Sickness

Helping Pups with Car Sickness

Summer is here! In this warm season we're ready to take trips with our pups camping at national parks, socializing at local dog parks, across town to friends' homes for barbecues, or even a road trip around the country! However, we understand that some pups may not enjoy riding in cars and suffer from carsickness. If that's the case with your dog, keep reading for our tips on how to make rides more bearable for your fur-baby.

Why do dogs get carsick? Just like us humans, dogs can get sick due to a sense of imbalance. This is more commonly seen in puppies due to their inner ears not being fully developed (fortunately many will outgrow this). Dogs may also have car-related anxiety due to past traumas or being sick in cars before. Common signs of carsickness include restlessness, excessive yawning, whining, excessive drooling, and vomiting; most of which will stop when the vehicle stops.

White American bulldog sitting in the backseat of a car.

You can help your dog’s carsickness by making the vehicle more comfortable for them.

  • If your dog gets sick at the sight of fast-moving objects around you, try placing them in the middle seat with a seatbelt, safety harness, or travel crate so they’re more likely to look forward at the road ahead.
  • Avoid placing your pup in the farthest backseat as it tends to have more motion.
  • Roll the windows down to give your pup fresh air, which can help with air pressure and nausea. Also, keep the vehicle cool as a hot, stuffy car can make nausea worse.
  • Feed your pup hours before your road trip so that there is less in their stomach to cause nausea. However, do not restrict water.
  • Bring your pup’s favorite blanket or toy to help calm their nerves.
  • Purchase a toy that will be their “car toy” to give them a positive association with your vehicle.
  • Take potty breaks during the trip and exercise before to help your pup feel better and let them explore.
You can also help your pup’s carsickness through conditioning. If your dog has had anxiety in cars before, you can try conditioning to build up a positive association with your car.
  1. Sit in the car with your pup, giving them praise and pets. Do not turn on the car, but rather let them have a good feeling by merely being in the car.
  2. After doing the above step, turn on the car and let it run for a few minutes. Do this for a few days.
  3. Next, drive for a short distance (maybe a block) to show your pup that rides don’t have to be scary. Slowly increase the length of your rides to get your pup used to the motion. Take them to fun places such as the park or a friend’s house so they know car rides are for fun events.
  4. Use treats or toys to make your dog feel even happier in the car.

You can speak with your veterinarian about over-the-counter or prescription medicine, including anti-nausea drugs, antihistamines, or mild sedatives to help with the trip. There are also more holistic ways to help your pup. You can give them ginger snap cookies or pills 30 minutes prior to the ride. Try massaging your pup for relaxation. Give them peppermint or chamomile to help calm their tummies. CBD oil can also help with anxiety and nausea. Prior to using any medicine, make sure to consult with your veterinarian about proper dosage.

Just like you, we see our pets as part of the family. We want to take them with us almost everywhere we go, including our fun vacations. Hopefully by alleviating their carsickness, you can begin taking your pup on outdoor adventures.

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