HELP! For Your Dog’s Carsickness

Does Your Dog Get Nauseas in the Car?

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.

  • Whining
  • Yawning (a common sign of stress in dogs)
  • Drooling
  • Inactivity
  • And, most often just prior to vomiting they pull  their lips up into what almost resembles a smile

Treatment for Carsick Dogs

Desensitization

  • 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.

Other Treatments

Seat Belts Can Often Help!

 

  • 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.

Hopefully with some Time and Care Your Dog Will Love the Car

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!

 

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Comments

  1. Jana Rade says:

    Wow, seat belt can help with car sickness?

    [Reply]

    Bronwyn Reply:

    Seatbelts seem to help to keep your dog secure, some dogs find the instability in a car stressful and therefore being in the belt helps. Our carsick dog is less likely to be sick if in her car harness in the front seat, she manages the four hour drive to our beach house now with out vomiting, but will still vomit if we are held up by a traffic jam, guess the stop/start just tips her over the edge, our other dog travels happily in the back seat and have never been sick.

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    Jana Rade Reply:

    Cool, good to know. Our guys don’t get car sick, even with a 6 hour drive. But it is a good thing to know for the future or for friends who might have this problem.

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  2. L. Serrano says:

    I would love some tips on dog travel in the cabin of an airplane — 3 or 4 hour trip. Thanks,

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  3. Lewis says:

    Basically, all of my dogs have gotten car sick while they were puppies. The ride to and from the Vet was not a good thing for them. However after the first year, they seem to “grow” out of it. I have never had an adult dog that would get car sick. I always blamed it on the uncertainty of going to the vet and riding in the car the first few times.

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  4. Harriet Wallace says:

    We have a nearly 5 year old Lagatto Romagnolo who never refuses to get in the car but once in the car, Mugsy whines continuously and pants. He weighs 19 kilos and I bought a transport for him but he refuses to go into it.

    It is never easy as one of us has to sit in the back and hold him from jumping all over the car. He does not vomit, but the whining is horrible and doesn’t make for a nice outing. We live in France and go trekking in the French Pyrenees frequently and Mugsy loves it, but it takes about 1/2 hour to get to the beginning of the trails and it is no easy task.

    I would appreciate your thoughts. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Carol Reply:

    Lagatto Romagnolo is an very interesting breed, I saw them on Animal Planet. You know since they are a very active scent dog, he may do better with play time before the half hour ride. If he is ready for a nap he may ride better.

    However, as suggested in the article about desensitization, you may just want to work on just sitting in the car when it is not running for awhile, if that goes well, then go to the next step.

    Good Luck

    [Reply]

    Jeff Reply:

    We had a Bearded Collie who loved to go for a car ride but 10 minutes into the trip he also would start whining and panting. We bought a Class C motorhome and he never panted nor whined the very first time. When we went on our next trip in the car all he did was look out of the window or sleep. We never had another problem after that even in the van for a 4.5 hour trip. I’m not saying go buy a Motor home but if you can get a bigger vehicle(rented or borrowed) maybe the same thing would work. He lived for 12 years and the last 10 years he was an angel in the car.

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  5. To reduce any type of nausea, place your dog on a newspaper while he is sitting in the car. This works on people too! Actually, with people I use a sheet of paper towel on the tummy, on the skin, under their underwear. It relieves the discomfort quickly. Before driving away, hold your dog’s forehead with one hand, and behind one ear with the other. This affects the balance points in the ear. Lastly, as you drive, if he is on the front seat, stroke his near hand UPWARDS – from nails to just above his wrist. You don’t have to be exact.

    This comes from my animal reflexology book and from the classes I teach.
    I had a large malamute who got big time carsick. Using this method when we had to be in the car, she frothed a bit, but didn’t throw up and was less anxious.

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  6. Sue says:

    I have found that letting my dogs lick ice rather than drink water helps keep them from getting carsick.

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  7. Nita Wracker says:

    I have two dogs, one loves riding in the car the other gets car sick. My car sick puppy usually doesn’t throw up and I make sure not to feed him for at least 2 hours before we head out. We always have the windows down part way. I avoid curvy roads as much as possible and do my best to drive slowly and smooth when I do have to take a curvy route. Additionally, he’s found ways to deal with feeling car sick (he’s a smart dog). When he’s feeling sick he sits up in the back of the car and stares out the back window. It appears that he visually fixes on a point in the horizon behind us. He’ll stay that way until he feels better and he’s back to acting like a normal dog. So maybe a seat belt would help but if it doesn’t help to have your dog facing forward you might try to find a way to have him/her face backward.

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  8. Eileen says:

    Being a passenger in a car is frequently the most disorienting visual stimuli that we or our dogs can experience. The reason why is that our eyes give feedback to the brain as to our orientation in space. In a moving car, we can see the things go by: signs, trees, other cars, people and even the painted lane dividers; yet the rest of our body perceives ourselves as being still. Of course, both us and dogs are wired in such a way that the eyes and ears work together, so if one of them doesn’t function at 100%, then it is not surprising that we get disoriented.

    Fortunately, my dog regards the car as her personal crate. She loves being in it, whether the car is moving or not. She does get a little upset when a gas station attendant inserts the nozzle into the gas tank.

    [Reply]

    Robb Reply:

    Wow! The rarest of breeds: Gas Station Attendant!

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  9. Donna Weise says:

    My Mom had a dog that got car sick every time. I read or saw somewhere to give the dog a ginger snap cookie or two and it would help. The ginger helps with the nausea. We tried it and it worked like a charm!!! She would give it to her 15-20 minutes prior to leaving. Hope this helps.

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  10. nancy smith says:

    My approx. one year old dog gets carsick and a client of mine from Canada told me to get a anti-static strip which attaches to the rear frame of the car and just barely drags on the ground. After checking all the auto parts stores, I found it for $20 on line (Mitzer). It works! It just takes 5 minutes to install.

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  11. virginia says:

    I give my chiweenie a smal piece of dramamine in a small peice of cheese (which he loves) before leaving on a car trip. He now enjoys the car and will jump im by himself where before we had to coax him into the car.

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  12. WILLIAM STANLEY LANE says:

    WHEN WE GO ON A “RV” TRIP, OUR 16 MOS OLD LAB DOES NOT EAT OR SOMETIMES ONLY DRINKS ONE TIME A DAY. WE HAVE HAD HER SINCE SHE WAS 4 MONTHS AND HAVE HAD HER IN A CAR EVERY DAY. SHE EVEN GOES TO WORK WITH MY WIFE AND I. IN MY PICK-UP OR HER SUV AND NOW IN OUR 37′ MOTORHOME, IT IS THE SAME THING. SHE RUNS AROUND WHEN WE STOP. SHE GET RIGHT IN THE VEHICLE AND IS READY TO GET OUT. WE HAVE NEVER HAD TO FORCE A STOP IN ANY OF THE VEHICLES. WE HAVE NEVER THORWN HER ON THE FLOOR. I JUST AM AT A LOSS. I HAVE TRIED TO FEED HER RICE, CHICKEN, ETC, ETC, AND STILL NOT GO. BY THE WAY, SHE DOES GO NUMBER 1 & 2. WHEN IT IS 2, IT IS NOT TOO MUCH AND IT LOOKS OK.

    ANY HELP, WE ARE NOW ON THE 2ND WEEK OF A 4 WEEK RV TRIP.

    W.S.LANE

    [Reply]

  13. pamela good says:

    thank you for the info on the dogs who get carsickness and how to avoid them getting sick. this info should be very helpful. i have a germanshepard who most often will get sick in the car. these helpful tips will, i’m sure help both, me and my dog when i want to travel with him.

    sincerely,
    pamela good

    [Reply]

  14. Fred says:

    I have two dogs both of which love to ride in the car because it usually means going to the dog park. My little one, about two years old, breed unknown, does yawn often while in the car. She is alert, looks about at the passing scenery and seems to be comfortable during the ride. I did not associate yawning with stress.

    [Reply]

  15. i dopted a dog since of may 15th of 08.she was fine later.the we get in my suv.then she syartes throwing up then.she doesn’t throw u in my dad’s truck.but when we are in my car she will throw up and maybe no throwing up.sometimes she does and sometime not. i need your help.

    [Reply]

  16. liz corredor says:

    yes my boxer that has 9 months does gt care sick all the yime what can i give him i cant take him any were…thanks what sholud i do

    [Reply]

  17. Audrey says:

    Rescue Remedy works, I got it at a Heath Food Store. Audrey

    [Reply]

  18. Cathy Kay says:

    Our little Maltese gets car sick. Now, she has her very own carseat and just loves it and no more car sickness. She can do what she wants, sleep or look out the windows. It was worth every penny.

    [Reply]

  19. nick says:

    my dog tilly a 4 year old lurcher always vomet in the car after about a hour of driving i can not allways stop,and even if she has had no food on that day she still brings up a little vomit i drive with all the windows open,it makes no diffrance,what can i do to stop the dog getting sick? nick from the uk

    [Reply]

  20. Carol says:

    Unfortunately I have always suffered from motion sickness. Whether I am in the car, bus or an airplane. So, I have found that as long as I am not sick my dog doesn’t get sick either. However, he whines if I drive with the window open, as soon as I close it he settles right down.

    [Reply]

  21. gene cross says:

    our dog hates riding in the car. We got him from a n.o.a.h. a rescue no killanimal shelter. We have been on vacation with him and he hides under the back seat of the van the whole time we are traveling. When we stop he comes out ,but the minute we start up again back under the seat he goes. What do you recommend for this type behavior? thank you gene

    [Reply]

  22. Merryl Rosenthal says:

    I appreciate the info on carsickness and the tips left by the blog readers.

    One of my dogs was terribly carsick as a pup, but that actually saved her life! She’d gotten into my daughter’s handbag and eaten all kinds of things–lipstick, antacids, Advil, Vaseline, chocolate, and sucking candies–so I rushed her to the animal hospital, of course. She threw up so much on the way that she probably saved herself from having her stomach pumped–and saved her own life. She had to stay for a couple of days at the hospital to be monitored, but she came through it like a champ, thank goodness!

    Now my daughter keeps her handbag far, far away. 🙂

    [Reply]

  23. Barbara says:

    My Briard used to get carsick, but one of the Briard breeders had a great idea. She suggested giving Honey ginger snaps. She loved them. I’d give her a few throughout the drive and eventually she stopped getting carsick and loves to ride. She still loves ginger snaps! The ginger is great for nausea.

    [Reply]

  24. Ed Williams says:

    You can’t drive too long and we should always wait an appropriate amount of time after feeding to go for a ride. Our best friend’s food has to digest properly just like ours before going on a sometimes bumpy ride. Lot’s of stopping and going, speeding and slowing down may affect our pet’s system more severely than ours.

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  25. suvra says:

    I have a dog who is like me.

    [Reply]

  26. Barbara says:

    I have a small 4 lb Yorkie, Annabelle, who gets stressed in the truck if we drive fast. She’s fine driving in town. I made her a small box, lined with velour padding and set it on it’s side in the backseat of my pick up. It’s just big enough for her to curl up in. When the truck starts to go fast she jumps into the back seat and curls up in her “bed”. As soon as we slow down, she comes out to see the action!. The box I used was actually a plastic one that came with a lid – I just threw the lid away and tipped the box on it’s side. She’s happy even on 9 hr trips now.

    [Reply]

  27. meredith says:

    Love the info about dogs and getting sick or drooling while traveling…We had a springer that would drool and drool to the point of becoming dehydrated….We finally had to give her medicine to “calm” her. Now we have a new 3 month old puppy and she has thrown up in the car whenever we go for the shortest time. These comments have helped…

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  28. Andrea says:

    I have a 5 month old lab/pit mix who just regurgitated her food during the car ride home earlier. I see a lot of tips of what to do before and during the car ride but am curious about what I should be doing now that it’s happened. How should I care for my puppy and should I wait to feed her again?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Yes, a full tummy and a car ride is not ideal

    [Reply]

  29. Kristien says:

    You can also get Rescue Remedy at Walmart in the animal section

    [Reply]

  30. Evelyn Holbrook says:

    I got a Border Collie (rescue dog) about 3 mo. ago. She is an absolutely wonderful, obedient and well behaved dog. BUT, her one fault is that she throws up every time we go in the car. I have taken her on short happy rides, not fed her, loved on her, talked to her, sung to her; name it, I’ve done it. I bought a Thunder Shirt, Thunder Essence Spray, given her Medibles (hemp for dogs), given her Dramamine, given her a Vet prescribed relaxant; again, I’ve done it all. She loves to get in the car, has never given me any trouble with that; but she starts drooling and whining and pacing about, only a few blocks from home. I’ve crated her, let her ride in the front seat and in the back. I love her and would never part with her. I realize this isn’t behavioral, but something she can’t keep from doing. She is only 1 1/2 to 2 years old. Possibly she will outgrow it, but if not; I am pretty much restricted to staying at home. HELP?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Teach her to lay on the floor board and open the windows. Don’t feed before you leave and yes, she will probably grow out of it.

    [Reply]

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