How to Help Dog Car Sickness
Motion sickness doesn’t just affect humans—if your pup appears uncomfortable whenever he goes for a ride, he may suffer from carsickness. Luckily, there are plenty of methods that you can use to help make road trips a little more tolerable for your furry friend!
Dog Motion Sickness Symptoms
Puppies and young dogs tend to suffer from motion sickness more than older dogs do. The equilibrium isn’t fully developed yet in puppies and can be thrown off-balance when the body is in motion. Although many dogs outgrow motion sickness with time and/or treatment, some canines never get over it. Symptoms of dog motion sickness are easy to spot and can include:
- Excessive drooling
- Licking of the lips
If your dog expresses discontent during car rides, he’s probably trying to tell you that something’s wrong. Don’t let these symptoms go untreated if your dog gets carsick; the longer you wait to act, the more difficult it will be for your pet to get over carsickness.
What Causes Dog Motion Sickness?
Depending on the cause of your dog’s carsickness, some treatment options may be more effective than others. If your pup has only ever been in the car to go to the vet, for example, his carsickness may be the result of stress and he may require training methods. In other cases, the motion itself may be the culprit. Every canine is unique and will react to treatment differently.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Build Your Dog’s Tolerance: If your dog is afraid of being in the car because he has suffered from stressful driving experiences in the past, you’ll need to show him that riding can be fun. Gradually build up your dog’s tolerance by slowly approaching the car with him, spending some time in the vehicle with the engine off, and then taking a brief trip around the neighborhood, all while rewarding his good behavior with small treats.
Ride in a Different Vehicle: Take your pup for a drive in a car that’s different than the one he’s used to. This helps prevent negative associations. If he responds better to the new vehicle, keep using it during riding time and reward any positive reactions.
Buy Some Car-Only Toys: Shop for a few special toys that your dog likes, but only make them available in the car so he can have something special to look forward to each time he gets into the car.
Take a Fun Trip: Try taking rides to places he likes, such as the park. These steps can help replace negative associations with positive associations.
Other Dog Motion Sickness Solutions
Face Your Dog Forward: Forward-facing riding helps prevent nausea. Put your pup in a special dog seat belt or place him facing forward in a car-safe crate.
Lower the Windows: Weather permitting, lower each car window an inch or two to balance out the air pressure. The more ventilated your vehicle is, the more comfortable your dog will be.
Sedatives Can Calm Your Dog: Some over-the-counter medications can help prevent vomiting and nausea—consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication.
The solution to dog motion sickness isn’t always straightforward. A combination of behavioral solutions and treatments may be needed to keep your pup healthy and happy. Although some dogs never quite shake carsickness, making them as comfortable as possible during car trips will go a long way.
American Kennel Club