Dog Car Sickness and What to Do About It

I am kind of amazed at how many dogs have car sickness issues.

I have one.

She loves going with me… but she hates the car.

She used to get car sick when she was a puppy.

Thankfully, most puppies grow out of car sickness. But there are a few dogs that, if not treated, continue to struggle as adults.

Here are some car sickness signs that you should watch out for when traveling with your dog:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Constant yawning or panting
  • Whining
  • Listlessness
  • Uneasiness
  • Inactivity
  • Vomiting (even on an empty stomach)

If you see any of the above signs, there are a few easy tricks to help your dog feel better in the car.

What to Do About Car Sickness in Dogs

Condition the Car

I have had a few dog training clients whose dogs who were so scared that they wouldn’t even get in the car.

For these dogs, I recommend feeding them in the car.

Just open the door and set his bowl inside.

Don’t start the car.

Don’t move the car (yet).

Just let him get a happy feeling regarding the car by allowing him to eat there.

I mean, I like all things snack related too! 😉

Once he is jumping into the car to eat, and is not at all fearful, you can start the car and feed him inside.

From there you can move the car out of the driveway.

Short Trips

Think race, not marathon.

You want to gradually build up your dog’s tolerance to a car. dog car sickness, canine car sickness

Take a few days to a week to work on this.

If your puppy or dog gets sick in the car, go for short, fun trips.

Drive to a nearby park and let him out to play.

Or take him for a hamburger (or grilled chicken is probably better!)

Remember those clients I mentioned: one of them had a HUGE black lab that refused to get in the car.

I suggested that after getting him into the car they make a short trip to McDonald’s… all it took was ONE time, and the dog was psyched to get in the car after that. They thought I was a miracle worker!

Taking short trips repeatedly will help your dog realize that a car ride is not be a reason to get sick.

Crates Help

Crates are a HUGE help!

Sometimes the visual experience of the world moving can make a dog nauseous.

By blocking his vision, you can actually be helping out!

Crack a Window

A little bit of airflow can do wonders!

Turning off the A/C, opening the windows, and letting fresh air into the car will help prevent car sickness.

Teach Him to Lay on the Floorboard

The floorboard is another place that the dog won’t be stimulated by things moving so quickly.

It also puts him in a spot where he will feel the least amount of movement.

Try a Supplement

Supplements that help your dog remain calm can also be very effective.

Follow these tips, and your dog will thank you for it!

 

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Comments

  1. Karen Garofalo says:

    Wow, Chat, you are really amazing in this study and effective ways to help dog car sickness. Your funny story about you and your son’s trip to Universal Studios in Cali made me laugh. Dogs need our help to think, reason, and feel safe. The driving to McDonalds hamburger for dog idea is RIGHT ON! The ride’s short destination gave my Lily a great treat and rewarded her to feel good about car rides. Chat, I read your posts and emails all the time. Continue to marvel us!

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  2. Iona N Rivers says:

    I have my pups totally on dog food but as a treat ( me and them) we get unsalted saltines. So in the car they get their treat. The unsalted saltine works two fold it makes them want to ride and it settles any nervous stomach acid that my add to any car sickness

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  3. Debbie says:

    This has been greatly appreciated by me, although I never had a dog be sick because of a car ride. I had one dog who couldn’t wait to go for a ride!! This information is very helpful though for those with dogs who do get sick and are afraid. I think I would like to add this tip; dont just take your dog to the vets. Take your dog out for trips to the park with water bowl and treats. Not too much treats but a little bit; remember you dont want your dog getting overweight. Or, instead of dog treats, for those dogs who get sick, try a little boiled chicken. Have fun with your dog!!

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  4. Morgan says:

    My dogs LOOOOOVE the car. I always take them for a hamburger or a free pup cup at DQ. They get mad if I go and they don’t. I have to bribe them with treats to be good while I’m gone. Doesn’t always work!

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  5. Nancy Moisan says:

    What excellent ideas, the enthusiasm dogs show for a car ride usually, except for the dog that goes, oh, no! Had a few over the years that were car sick, not pleasant, they did eventually grow out of it and these tricks might have shortened the periods of anxiety. Thanks Chet, always enjoy your suggestions.

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  6. Karen says:

    I have a dog that poops on the car seat if I leave her for 5 minutes to go in a store! And she will not lay on the seat or floor ( she paces on the seat) She doesn’t get sick. Fortunately she is a mini poodle and some other breed, so that ‘s a help but still gross 😔

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    Minette Reply:

    This and the pacing is a sign of stress and that she is not enjoying the process. I would either leave her at home or crate her when you go inside

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  7. Susan B says:

    I think one of my 3 gets a bit queasy. He always chooses to get on the floor behind the driver’s seat. He has always been that way, and he is now 9 years old. He gets in willingly, but not enthusiastically like his brothers do. What kinds of supplements? ginger snaps like for people? something else?

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  8. Barbara says:

    Thanks for your story on car sickness I will use your steps to getting my dog used to the car keep up with all the good training tips you give

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  9. Tambra Patino says:

    Hi Chet,
    Your programs and articles are good in so many ways, helpful, realistic, down to earth good common sense. They’ve been beneficial to our family and Abby. Abby was a car puker too and grew out of it with persistence, time, and your above mentioned. She also benefited from the center console dog bed with built in tether. I made sure she always faced forward. Now she can go 200 miles with short breaks and no pukage and she loves to go for rides and vacations. Leading up to this I had to keep a grocery bag with the sides cuffed down and paper towel in the bottom, and some wet wipes. Then at first sign of wretching I shoved her head into the bag. Gotta be quick.
    Anyway she’s over it.

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  10. Margarita says:

    Thank you very much for the tips. Two of my dogs get very anxious and pant a lot or bark at anything on the road.
    I’ll try your advice, just to add a possibly helpful tips, I’ve tried pheromones on a dog that has a number of serious issues. He has an enlarged heart, collapsed trachea and laryngeal problems. As a result of all that, he coughs a lot and seems not to be able to breath for seconds, then he regains Control. And he loves rubs and massages.
    Well, between the pheromones and massages to the areas that might hurt, and some soft talk or a lullaby, he spends most of his time resting or eating. I’ve noticed that a full stomach helps him cough less.
    He was on 5 meds. When he refused to take any of his meds all of a sudden I went out looking for a holistic vet, but nothing has helped him more than these pheromones. The spray is what I use, don’t think the collar is very effective.
    I’m hope this can help someone
    Margarita

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  11. Karen says:

    My lil mini Aussie, Bella loves to go in the car but out of the blue she prefers the back seat. She never gets sick but maybe this explains why.

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  12. Julie Kinser says:

    I’m getting ready to go on a 13 hr trip to meet my first grandchild. My dog loves the car but always gets sick. I’ve tried all the calming supplements, and am now trying DRAMAMINE.

    I like your suggestion of putting him in the floor. Should I make sure he has a fairly empty stomach while traveling? I’ve tried that too but he still gets sick. I hope you have time to answer my question.

    Thanks
    Julie

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  13. Tricia says:

    Chet,

    Loved your article about your father son trip to Universal Studios. It made me laugh. Also your son looks just like you! I don’t have a dog that experiences car sickness, but I do have a dog that is out of control in the car; running back and forth on the seat barking at cars passing and at people in cars next to us at stop lights. He will even body slam the windows. Help. Is there a fix for this behavior? Really appreciate any suggestions.

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  14. Tammie Masters says:

    We have a Rat Terrier who hated going for a ride. Well, then we started traveling full-time. O’boy, she was sick in both ends for a week. (We gave her bland chicken and rice till she settled down)
    She would climb in our lap and hide in our armpit; during this week, I got into a stressful situation where she absolutely could not be in my lap while driving. She had to sit in a seat by herself (yes, she thought she was going to die). I rolled the window down, once she realized she wasn’t going to die, and she could look around and see things she settled down after that day, and now, loves going for a ride.
    She was 9, so yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
    Yes, she just needed to learn that rides are fun.
    Tammie

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  15. Aurora says:

    Try CBD oil for dogs. It helps nausea as well as calms the dog.

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  16. Karen Stone says:

    We take our dog long road trips 2 to 6 times a year. During every trip he is fed only in the evening, nothing but a little water in the morning. No more car sickness!

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  17. Jenny azcat says:

    My lil mini Aussie, Bella loves to go in the car but out of the blue she prefers the back seat. She never gets sick but maybe this explains why.

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    Minette Reply:

    probably!

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