For some dogs, the car feels like a second home. Not only do they delight in going for rides, they love just hanging out in the car any chance they get. This is not the case for dogs who experience motion sickness. These poor pups dread car travel regardless of the destination.
Symptoms of dog car sickness
Vomiting is, of course, the tell-tale sign of car sickness or motion sickness. More subtle evidence that your best buddy is feeling queasy can include the following:
- Lip licking
- Heavy drooling
- Subdued behavior
Cause of dog car sickness
Car sickness or motion sickness is super common amongst puppies, and may be associated with immaturity of the inner ear apparatus that regulates equilibrium and balance. While many dogs outgrow this problem, others continue to experience motion sickness throughout their lives. For some, this may become a conditioned response- the dog learns to associate car travel with nausea.
Tips for decreasing your dog’s car sickness
Although motion sickness does not have any long-lasting health consequences, it is certainly a major drag for the poor dog and the poor human who must clean up the mess. If your dog experiences car sickness I encourage you to take advantage of the following suggestions with hopes that your car rides together will become far more peaceful and enjoyable.
- Allow your dog to spend quality time in your car with the engine turned off. Spend these driveway moments with a peaceful, calm mindset and provide lots of positive reinforcement. Graduate from this step to sitting in a parked car with the engine running and lots of positive reinforcement. Next, come very short road trips- no more than going around the block. Gradually build up car travel time, ideally winding up at destinations your dog considers desirable.
- Travel when your dog has an empty stomach (no food for 4-6 hours). This means skipping a meal or timing your travel according to your dog’s feeding schedule.
- While driving, confine your dog using a crate or a seat belt setup designed specifically for dogs. Be sure to use a system that secures the crate in place. Less movement will lessen the likelihood of nausea.
- It is thought that facing forward may help prevent motion sickness. If using a crate, cover it in a fashion that prevents your dog from looking out other than in a forward direction.
- Try a different car. Here you go. I am giving you a reason to go out and buy that new car you’ve had your eye on! Can you imagine the auto dealer’s reaction to taking your dog going along on test rides? In all seriousness, if you do have access to more than one vehicle, see if one produces a more favorable response from your dog than the other. I can attest to the fact that I am much more prone to motion sickness in some cars than in others.
- Keep the car cool by cracking windows and/or using air conditioning. I am not an advocate of allowing your dog to travel with his head hanging out the window. There is too much potential for bodily harm, particularly to those precious corneas.
- Talk to your veterinarian about Cerenia (maropitant citrate), a drug that was developed specifically for the prevention of motion sickness in dogs. It is safe and effective and doesn’t cause drowsiness. Cerenia comes in a tablet form that is administered orally once daily. It works best when given two hours prior to travel.
- Over the counter medications developed for people with motion sickness are not as effective for dogs as is Cerenia. Additionally, most cause significant drowsiness. Do not use these products without first checking with your veterinarian.
- Ginger may reduce motion sickness for some dogs. Some people believe that feeding a ginger snap or two to their dog before travel does the trick.
- Aromatherapy with lavender has been shown to significantly reduce car ride-induced anxiety in dogs, according to an AVMA article. While not proven to lessen canine motion sickness, the reduction in anxiety may prove beneficial. Unless you detest the smell of lavender, this is certainly worth a try.
Questions for your veterinarian
- What do you recommend I try first for my dog’s motion sickness?
- If that doesn’t work, what shall I try next?
- Is there a medication that you suggest I try?
- Is it likely that my dog will outgrow this problem?
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
How to Solve Puppy Car Sickness
While motion sickness in dogs usually passes after a few rides in the car, anxiety can present a longer-lasting issue that leads to nearly chronic car sickness. In any case, there are a few things you can do to prevent or minimize the risk of puppy car sickness.
1. No Food Before the Ride
This rule can help ease the symptoms of motion sickness in puppies. That doesn’t mean that your dog should be hungry the whole day before the drive, but their last meal should be a couple of hours earlier.
For example, if the drive is planned for early in the morning, give your pooch a very small portion of food instead of a full one, or get up earlier to feed and take out your dog a couple of hours before the ride.
Offer your dog plenty of water, take them out for a bathroom break just before the ride, and prepare some more water for the road, especially if it’s a longer trip. Water can help to sooth irritated stomach in dogs and help with motion sickness.
2. Restrain Your Puppy in the Car
Never leave your dog jumping up and down, or sliding on the back seat when you drive. When dogs are young, it will be difficult for them to have orientation in the new space which is moving and to stay in one place as the car is passing through bumpy roads.
For this reason and many others, it's recommended to restrain your dog in the back seat to ensure safety and stability in the car. This can be done by a dog car seat, a puppy carrier or a travel crate. Additionally, you can install a barrier so that your pooch cannot bother you while driving for safety reasons.
Apart from the sense of stability, making sure that your dog is restrained and in the back seat will be much safer for them, preventing the dog from bumping their head due to sudden moves of the car, abrupt use of the brakes, or airbag popping up in an accident.
3. Make Your Car a Happy Place for the Dog
If anxiety is what's causing puppy car sickness, the best way to relieve your pet's stress is to make your car a happier and more welcome place for the dog.
Do that by putting some of your pup's favorite toys or blankets in the back seat. You can use some treats in the beginning and end of the ride, but not to put too much as over-eating can cause worse motion sickness.
Give enough praise to your dog when they behave properly within the car. This way the dog knows that they're doing something right, and will get the necessary training about the expected behavior in the vehicle.
For puppy toys, choose those specifically for chewing to avoid your puppy trying to play with them by racing in the car. Open the back window just a little bit to allow your pooch to feel the breeze and the smells of different places and some fresh air, but not so much that your dog would stick the head out, which is dangerous.
4. Take Breaks
Take a break if you see that your puppy is getting too nervous about the ride. Maybe it is because the dog needs to go potty outside, or simply wants to stretch their legs. This will add an exciting note of exploring new places when riding in a car with a puppy.
Most importantly, regularly take your puppy to a dog park, beach or some other place in the nature that they will love, using the exact same vehicle. This way the dog will learn that car is not only for taking them for a vaccinations, but also for going to fun places.
5. Give Your Puppy Medicine or Natural Remedies
If you've tried everything else but your puppy car sickness is getting out of hand, you can use medicine or natural remedies to relieve this issue.
We recommend starting with natural remedies first to avoid potential side effects of over-the-counter medicine. There are several options you can try, such as Travel Eze tablets, Ask Naturals calming treats, Bach rescue remedy drops, or a Pet Relief spray. All of these are made with natural ingredients, including certain food and oil blends.
Alternatively, you can also take a more holistic approach with using foods. For example, ginger, chamomile and peppermint are all known to calm car anxiety in dogs. Kava, Valerian, passionflower, and skullcap have also been used for years to treat motion sickness. They may not always work, but because there are no side effects, it doesn't hurt to try.
When it comes to over-the-counter puppy car sickness medicine, the most common are anti-nausea drugs. You can give Dramamine, the same medicine people with car sickness take. It's an antihistamine with dimenhydrinate as its active ingredient, and it helps to control motion sickness and prevents vomiting. Only use Dramamine‘s original formula, or the one designed for kids.
Alternatives to Dramamine include Gravol, Cerenia (prescription-only), and meclizine drugs like Antivert or Bonine. These are all anti-nausea medicines that will treat your puppy's motion sickness and prevent vomiting, but not the underlying cause (such as anxiety). To treat anxiety in extremely stressed puppies, you'll need anti-anxiety aids.
Because all medicines may have side effects, consult with your veterinarian about which drugs they recommend and the appropriate dosage.
At the Tail's End
Car sickness is very common in puppies, but most dogs outgrow it after a short period. It's not dangerous to your pet but it is uncomfortable, and needs to be addressed if it doesn't go away.
To prevent or solve puppy car sickness, don't let the dog eat before the ride, create a safe and comfortable spot in the back seat, put some toys and treats in the car to relieve your pet's stress and make it a habit to drive your dog to places they like from time to time.
If none of the other methods work, you can give your puppy natural remedies to calm them down and prevent vomiting, or you can try certain foods and herbs. Finally, there is motion sickness medicine for dogs like Dramamine to try as the last resort.
Revealed: The Best Natural Remedy for Dogs With Motion Sickness
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Not only is it a pain for you, but motion sickness is really stressful and unpleasant for dogs.
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Why Do Dogs Get Car Sick?
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been through something similar:
You’re about to take your furry friend to the park.
They can’t contain their excitement and need little convincing to get into the car.
On your way, the excitement seems to subside a little, and before long you find your pup’s last meal has re-appeared all over the seats and floor of your car.
Motion sickness is a real problem for many dogs and their owners.
But what exactly causes your dog to get sick from rides in the car?
Well, the root cause of car sickness in dogs usually has to do with a disturbance to the inner ear.
In young dogs, this is usually because the part of the ear used to maintain balance hasn’t fully developed yet.
The constant movement from the car trip combined with your dog’s underdeveloped sense of balance will leave them feeling dizzy, nauseous, and in most cases, lead to vomiting.
In older dogs, motion sickness is usually caused by a mismatch of sensory information.
This is the same in humans.
People who get seasick, for example, usually feel nauseous and dizzy because their inner ears sense movement from the boat while their eyes (usually looking inside the cabin) don’t perceive any motion at all.
It’s believed that this conflict of information is the root cause of motion sickness.
That’s why people who get sea or carsick are usually told to look out the window to help align the sensory information sent to their brain.
Note that older dogs can also be conditioned to feel nauseous or vomit in the car.
If your dog suffered from car sickness during his first few car trips, he might automatically relate riding in the car with feeling sick, even if his ears are fully developed.
One final cause of car sickness in dogs can be stress and anxiety.
Your dog might relate the experience of traveling in the car with another a particularly stressful experience like going to the vet, for example.
Alternatively, your dog might relate it with a really exciting experience, like going to the park or the beach.
Both the stress of going to the vet or the excitement of going on a walk, combined with the motion from the car ride, can cause nausea and vomiting in dogs.
What Are the Symptoms of Car Sickness in Dogs?
The most tell-tale sign that your dog is car sick is vomiting.
However, there are some other signs of dog car sickness to look out for before your pup throws up.
- Yawning (usually a sign of nausea)
- Dry heaving
- Constant smacking or licking of the lips
- Lack of energy
If your dog suffers from car sickness, look out for these symptoms.
If you catch them early, you might be able to stop the car and get your dog out before they ruin your leather seats.
Tips for Helping Your Dog Overcome Motion Sickness
Motion sickness puts your pet under a lot of stress.
Unfortunately, there are going to be times when your dog needs to travel in the car.
In this article, I’ve put together a bunch of tips to help you and your four-legged friend overcome the stress and inconvenience of motion sickness.
I’ve had dogs throughout my entire life, and I’ve seen my fair share of car sickness.
Rosie, my Golden Retriever, couldn’t last more than 5 minutes in the car when she was younger.
Even the shortest trip to the park or the vet would have her feeling sick in minutes.
Luckily, I was eventually able to help her control her car sickness.
Here are some of my tips to help you treat motion sickness in your dog:
1. Make Car Rides as Comfortable as Possible
One of the key aspects of beating motion sickness in dogs is by making their car trips as comfortable as possible.
There’re many different ways to do this.
First and foremost, start by reducing any anxiety or stress prior to getting your pooch in the car.
If your dog gets either really excited or really stressed before traveling in the car, try giving them some downtime once you’ve got them into your vehicle.
Also, think about how your dog is sitting in the car.
Ideally, you’ll want to have them facing forward during the trip, as facing backward or sideways can be disruptive for your dog visually.
You may also consider traveling with your pet in a carrier cage.
This can help isolate them a bit from all the visual stimulus and also helps contain vomit if your dog does end up getting sick.
Keep in mind, however, that traveling in a cage can be extra stressful for some pets, too.
Next, make sure your car is cool and well ventilated. Hot, stuffy cars are only going to make your dog feel worse.
It can also help to lower the car windows a few inches while driving to regulate air pressure and reduce symptoms of nausea.
Some pet owners also use treats to make car trips more fun for their dogs.
This can work in some cases, but keep in mind that feeding during or right before traveling in the car can intensify nausea for some pets.
This brings me to my next tip:
2. Don’t Overfeed Your Dog Before Traveling
Most pet owners find limiting their pet’s food consumption before a trip can help reduce their motion sickness.
In fact, airlines that transport live pets will always advise limiting your pet’s food consumption prior to traveling in order to reduce nausea.
I definitely agree and found that not feeding Rosie for 1-2 hours before taking a trip in the car helped manage her nausea.
Sometimes, however, I’d give her a small piece of candy (like a jelly bean) just before a trip.
I don’t know the exact science behind this, but there’s something about the sugar that can help reduce nausea in dogs.
If you choose to do this too, remember not to give your dog any chocolate or candies containing xylitol as they are toxic for canines.
3. Start Small
Helping your dog overcome motion sickness is all about practice:
You need to get them used to traveling in the car by, well, taking them on car trips.
Unfortunately, some dog owners take this to mean that they should take their pet on as many long-haul car trips as possible until they eventually overcome their problem.
Well, I can guarantee you that’s not the way to go about it.
When helping your dog overcome car sickness, it’s best to start small.
In fact, I’ve found it’s best to actually break the entire trip into 2 parts:
First, start by helping your pet approach the car in a calm way forcing them into the back seat as quickly as possible is only going to stress them out.
Instead, park the car in the driveway with the door open and take your time approaching it with your dog.
Then, get them into the car in a calm, collected manner.
Next, I find it helps to just take a few minutes and sit with your dog in the car with the engine off.
When I trained Rosie to travel in the car, I found this really helped calm her down a little before we started on our trip.
Then, switch on the engine and start by taking a few short trips of no more than 5 minutes each.
A drive around the block, for example, is a good starting point.
As your dog builds up confidence in the car, start taking longer trips.
Whenever possible, try heading somewhere your pooch is excited to go, like the park or the beach, for example.
Remember, you want to make riding in the car a positive experience for your dog.
4. Try Some Natural Nausea Remedies
This isn’t the fanciest of tips, but it’s a great way to fight off acute nausea symptoms:
Before your dog gets in the car, mix together a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda and let them take a few sips.
The bubbles in the water are great for calming the stomach and can help wean off symptoms of nausea and vomiting in your dog just like bubbly drinks do for humans.
Some other natural nausea treatments include kefir (a fermented milk beverage containing official probiotics), lavender oil aromatherapy (try a natural lavender oil aromatizer for your car), and ginger (natural ginger capsules or a few drops of ginger root extract work great for dogs).
The Best Medications for Dogs With Motion Sickness
Sometimes, your dog might need more targeted nausea relief in order to get them through a car trip.
That’s where antiemetic drugs can come in handy.
Below is a list of some of the best medications to help dogs with motion sickness:
Mirtazapine is a human antidepressant drug that made its way into the veterinary world thanks to its antiemetic properties.
More specifically, mirtazapine was shown to be particularly effective at boosting appetite and reducing nausea in animals undergoing cancer treatments or suffering from chronic kidney disease.
It isn’t commonly used to treat motion sickness, but some vets might consider it seeing that it helps to treat nausea in other situations.
Metoclopramide is another common antiemetic used to control nausea and vomiting in dogs (commonly sold as Reglan).
In humans, metoclopramide can be used to relieve nausea and vomiting, help with stomach emptying, and to manage gastroenteritis and reflux.
In dogs and cats, it is mainly used just as an antiemetic.
While it is an effective medication, metoclopramide can cause some side effects.
Note that metoclopramide isn’t FDA approved for veterinary use.
Cerenia is an antiemetic drug available via prescription from your vet.
Each tablet contains 16mg of maropitant, which has been shown to offer up to 24 hours of relief from nausea and vomiting in dogs.
Cerenia can be used as a general antiemetic, although it has been noted that larger doses are needed in order to help with motion sickness.
It also has mild anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, meaning it is sometimes used to provide anesthetic relief.
Cerenia is usually well-tolerated, although it is reserved for use in dogs 8 weeks or older.
That’s because it has produced bone marrow development issues in young puppies.
It is generally suggested that maropitant shouldn’t be taken for more than 5 consecutive days in order to avoid saturating the liver.
Nonetheless, Cerenia is considered a well-tolerated antiemetic that’s more effective than many others.
1. CBD: The Best Motion Sickness Cure for Dogs
While all of the above medications are effective, there’s a natural supplement that I recommend more than anything else for dogs with motion sickness.
And that’s Cannabidiol = CBD.
I’m sure you’ve heard about this compound before.
Maybe you’ve heard other pet owners talk about it, or maybe some of your friends and family use it.
CBD has become super popular recently as research has found it to have a wide variety of health benefits.
Studies show, for example, that CBD has powerful antiemetic effects.
That’s why it is so commonly used by cancer patients to treat the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy treatments.
AIDS patients are also known to use CBD and other natural products derived from cannabis and hemp to help alleviate nausea and stimulate their appetite.
In a 2012 study, for example, a group of researchers from Canada, the UK, and Israel decided to take a closer look at how CBD works to relieve nausea.
They found that it indirectly stimulates 5-HT1A, a specific type of serotonin receptor in the brain.
In doing so, CBD helped reduce nausea symptoms in rats.
Other studies have also shown that CB2 receptors (the receptor responsible for processing CBD in the body) are found in high numbers all throughout the GI tract.
By interacting with these receptors and stimulating the Endocannabinoid System, CBD is believed to help calm nausea symptoms and reduce the need to vomit.
As I mentioned earlier, my dog Rosie suffered from motion sickness as a pup.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know about CBD then and wasn’t able to use it to give her relief.
However, I did see how effective it was at relieving nausea and vomiting later on.
A few years ago, Rosie was diagnosed with cancer.
She underwent chemotherapy, but as her condition deteriorated, so did her appetite.
Rosie was always a good eater (as Goldens usually are), so it was hard to see her leaving her food untouched.
Eventually, she started losing weight and progressively got weaker and less energetic.
Luckily, I learned about CBD relatively soon after her diagnosis.
Immediately after starting her on the supplement, I saw huge improvements.
Within just a few days, Rosie was eating better and her energy levels improved.
Plus, CBD helped with a variety of her other health problems too.
And after sharing my success through this website, I've heard from so many other pet owners who have seen amazing results after giving their dogs CBD.
Are Other Pet Owners Using CBD?
If you’re worried about CBD being some kind of snake oil supplement, don’t be.
There are countless pet owners just like you and me who use this stuff every day to help their pets with all kinds of symptoms.
Murdock, for example, is a young pup who struggles with car sickness and anxiety when being left home alone.
Screenshot taken from Canna-Pet.com
Luckily, his owners already knew about CBD and started using it early on.
Using CBD treats, Murdock’s owners are now able to help him stay calm when he is home alone.
Plus, they also use CBD capsules 30 minutes before traveling in the car.
He hasn’t gotten sick once since they started this treatment plan.
Bear is another pup who has seen great results using CBD to treat his motion sickness.
Screenshot taken from Canna-Pet.com
Bear used to get unbearably nervous before traveling, which would leave him feeling nauseous within minutes of getting in the car.
Using CBD, however, his owners were able to drive down his travel anxiety and make his car trips more calm and nausea-free.
There are many other dog owners out there who regularly use CBD supplements to help their pets.
Screenshot taken from HolistaPet.com
Bethany wrote in about her dog's success story with CBD and anxiety in the car.
Bethany's pup Julie hated the car. On long rides she would get very anxious and sick. This caused everyone a lot of stress and something needed to change.
They started giving Julie CBD dog treats (review the treats I recommend here) before getting in the car, and the results have been great. She's no longer anxious, doesn't cry in the car, and is no longer getting sick.
It's been a huge stress relief for everyone!
Find Out More About the Benefits of CBD for Dogs
If your dog suffers from car sickness, I highly recommend trying CBD.
This stuff worked wonders for Rosie and has helped countless other dogs, too.
Best of all, CBD is 100% natural and non-toxic.
It also produces no side effects, even in high doses.
And, unlike any of the other medications on this list, CBD has a wide variety of health benefits that can help your dog in more ways than one.
For example, CBD is great for fighting: inflammation, relieving allergies, and much more.
For a more detailed rundown of the benefits of CBD, click here.
Also, don’t forget to visit my homepage where I specifically rate particular brands of CBD pet supplements and recommend individual products for specific ailments like motion sickness.
If you wanted to get started today, a great CBD oil which may help prevent your dog from being sick in the car is HolistaPet CBD Pet Tincture. It's one of my top recommendations.
FREE Bonus: Do This Next!
If you have never heard about CBD before, or you're still unsure, then I have a bonus gift for you!
Please go ahead and download my free checklist, which will help you decide if CBD is the right remedy for your dog's issues.
The checklist covers the main benefits of CBD for dogs, plus I also give you all my research into CBD which you can print and read later.
Fill in the form below to get access to this free checklist:
Hey I'm Blake, the founder of this website. Our family was fortunately to have discovered CBD products after our dog Rosie was diagnosed with a few common ailments. I truly believe they enhanced her last few years, and it's my passion to spread the word through this website. Thanks for visiting!
Dog car sickness, also known as motion sickness, refers to the anxiety associated with pets when traveling in a car and makes the canine feel dizzy, hot, and nauseous.
In other cases, symptoms such as restlessness, swallowing, lip licking, drooling, retching, panting, and vomiting.
Canines with nauseous behavior exhibit signs of urination or bowel movements, hyperactivity, nervousness, vocalization, and stress during travel.
Just like some humans, moving with a dog in your car can make him uncomfortable. This is an intolerable condition for some dogs.
The problem is not only associated with car movement, but with other objects in motion, including trains, boats, and aircraft.
You can tell whether your pet has motion sickness if he has a familiar malady. The inner ear, a balance control organ of your dog gets over-stimulated when in motion.
The most affected are young canines because they are yet to develop their balance fully. If your puppy experiences car sickness, it eventually outgrows the problem.
We know how heartbreaking it can be to deal with an unhappy dog, and the physical representation of that “unhappiness” is rather unpleasant to deal with.
However, by taking some proactive steps and talking to your vet, you’ll decrease the suffering and discomfort your dog will be going through. In time, your dog car sickness will become easier to deal with.
And, the more gentle car rides your dog gets to experience, the less likely it is for your dog to throw up. We hope that our little guide has given you some peace of mind.