HELP! For Your Dog’s Carsickness
Your driving down the road with your dog, headed to the park or to the vet when you hear the undeniable sound of retching coming from the back seat. You turn around to watch your dog regurgitate his morning meal and the biscuit you gave him before you started out! Carsickness is disturbing for both dog and owner!
Why Do Dogs Get Carsick?
Most often young dogs and puppies are the ones that suffer from carsickness. The reason is that the ear structure used for balance is not fully developed in pups and young dogs. Although most dogs outgrow carsickness, not all of them do!
What Are The Signs?
Although dogs don’t turn green, like humans sometimes do, they do show other signs of carsickness and getting ready to vomit.
- Yawning (a common sign of stress in dogs)
- And, most often just prior to vomiting they pull their lips up into what almost resembles a smile
Treatment for Carsick Dogs
- The first step is to make the car more inviting and fun by desensitizing your dog to the car. First begin by parking the car in the driveway and feeding your dog in the car while it is parked. This helps your dog associate the car with good things.
- As soon as you see that your dog is looking forward to going to the car, you may begin to turn the car on while he eats. Again, you will remain parked in the driveway.
- The next step once your dog is comfortably eating in the car with no problem while it is running is to take your dog for a ride around the block. This time I would suggest not feeding your dog in the car or 2 hours prior to the drive. You may use a few treats as positive reinforcement while you drive as long as it does not make your dog nauseous.
- Next take a short trip somewhere fun, like the park or somewhere where the two of you can park and then go for a walk.
- Slowly add more time spent in the car going fun places.
- Limit food and water prior to any car rides.
- Have your dog face forward in the car, you may need to use a seatbelt to help your dog stay in one place.
- Sitting on the floorboard or in a crate is often also effective to reduce carsickness.
- Lower your car windows equally to equalize pressure and to bring in fresh air.
- Keep the car cool, heat can increase the likelihood of nausea.
- Bring along a favorite toy or treat that is only used in the car.
In Extreme Cases
- In extreme cases, especially with older dogs anti-nausea drugs can be utilized.
- Antihistamines are also often suggested by veterinarians to help sedate dogs during trips.
But be sure to consult your veterinarian before using any medications, even over the counter drugs to make sure they are safe for your individual dog and to find the right amount needed for your dog.
My mother had an Akita that was car sick his entire life. Although he got better about not vomiting during every small trip, he always vomited when she went on vacation. She covered her seats in plastic and then used a bathroom mat as a second defense. If he vomited she pulled over and put the mats in a large trash bag and she always had a spare mat or two if needed!
Hopefully with time and a little effort your dog will be able to ride safely and happily in your car!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.