Tips for Managing Dog Travel Sickness

So, you’re traveling with your dog and all of a sudden you find that your dog has been sick all over the back seat. Dog travel sickness is never a fun scenario for you or your poor dog. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help your dog when they’re feeling motion sickness. 

What causes dog travel sickness?

Dog motion sickness is actually more common in puppies and younger dogs than in older dogs. This matches the human equivalent, as children tend to get travel sick more often than adults. But why do puppies and younger dogs get sick more than their older counterparts?

This is because the ear structures that are used for balance haven’t fully developed yet in younger dogs, so their brain is basically unable to equate why their eyes are registering movement, even though their body is remaining still. This can lead to nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

Some dogs may outgrow their tendency to vomit when in the car – but unfortunately, some won’t. If your dog was feeling sick the first few times they were in the car, they may have conditioned themselves to associate the experience with vomiting. If your dog is stressed, they may also have a greater tendency to get travel sick. For example, you need to ensure you take your dog to places they find positive (such as the park) in the car – not just on visits to the vet.

What are some of the signs of dog travel sickness?

Although it’s definitely the most obvious one, vomiting isn’t the only sign of travel sickness in dogs. Other symptoms can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive yawning
  • Whining or whimpering
  • Excessive drooling from the mouth
  • Smacking or licking their lips

What can you do to help your travel sick dog?

Time your dog’s meals

If your dog doesn’t have anything in their tummy, then they’re less likely to vomit. Be sure to only feed your dog a light, regular meal two to three hours before the car journey. However, make sure that they always have access to fresh, clean, cool or room-temperature water.

Stop for rest and water breaks

We’ve all heard the saying or seen the signs by the side of the highway – rest, revive, survive! This is the same for dogs, just as it is for humans. Be sure to take regular stops so your pet can get out and stretch their legs, sniff around and have a toilet break. You should aim to stop at least every two hours, however, look out for the signs that your pet may need to stop sooner, such as restlessness or whimpering.

Also, be sure to take enough bottled water with you. Staying hydrated is a great way to fend off travel sickness in dogs (and people), so your dog should have regular access to clean, fresh water. You can buy pet travel bottles, or alternatively, just bring along an old empty ice cream container and fill it up with water for your dog whenever you stop. These can be perfect accessories if you’re planning to go camping or for a long day road trip.

See your vet or try a natural remedy

If your dog’s travel sickness is becoming a major issue and is preventing you from taking your dog on holidays or to fun places like the park, it may be time to see your veterinarian to discuss some medical interventions. You can use Dramamine (the same active ingredient used in human motion sickness pills) for your dog’s issue, however, you should always discuss with your vet first to determine the correct dose. There are other medical options available for dog motion sickness, so discuss with your vet what the best option for your pooch might be.

You could also try a natural remedy, like ginger. You can buy ginger capsules or powder from your local health food store, and give it to your dog a couple of hours prior to traveling (after checking with your vet first). You could even try making ginger treats for your pooch, which will be a great way to train them into liking the car. They’ll start to associate the yummy taste of the ginger treats with the experience of being in the car, so may end up being more relaxed, happy and healthy on your travels.

Keeping your furry best friend healthy in the car

You want to be able to enjoy life and live it with your best canine companion. However, motion sickness in dogs can get in the way of all the fun, as you don’t want your dog suffering and feeling sick whenever they travel. Thankfully with a little bit of preparation, you can help your dog to have a comfortable, healthy journey.

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