car sick dog

How to Help a Car Sick Dog Enjoy the Ride

You and your four-legged friend love an adventure. Name a place and the two of you will be there! There’s just one problem – your dog is starting to look a little queasy in the backseat. A car-sick dog is not going to make this fun.


Dragging a carsick dog on a road trip is miserable for everyone involved, and can make you both unwilling to jump in the car at all. Luckily, car sickness is often easily treatable. 


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Why Does My Dog Get Car Sick?

Just like children, who are more likely to suffer from car sickness than adults, puppies are more at risk than older dogs. This is because the parts of the ear structure that control their balance are much smaller. If a dog is going to outgrow their car sickness, it will typically happen by the time they turn one.


Car Sickness In Older Dogs

If your dog is on the older side and still suffering from car sickness, there’s no need to worry just yet. If they experienced puppy car sickness, it’s possible they are now simply conditioned to expect that in the car.


They may even have developed general anxiety about traveling in a vehicle. This can happen even if they seem otherwise eager to go in the car, and the increased stress levels mean a higher chance of becoming sick while out on the road.


Signs Of Motion Sickness In Dogs

Apart from the obvious symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, there are a few other signs you can use to tell if your dog is car sick. Keep an eye out for:

  • Drooling
  • Whining
  • Pacing
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive lip licking
  • Yawning
car sick dog panting

Treating A Car Sick Dog

So, your dog is definitely suffering from car sickness. Now how exactly can you help them?


Here are our top five ways to help a car sick dog:


1. Make car rides a calm experience for your dog.

An anxious pooch in a hot, stuffy car is a recipe for disaster. The best way to set your dog up for success in beating their anxiety is to make sure that the car is a comfortable space for them. Turning the aircon up a little higher than usual will help to reduce any symptoms and ease the stress on their body.


If this isn’t possible, or doesn’t seem to help, you can try winding the windows a few inches lower than you usually would. Fresh air is great for any dizziness and will also help to balance the air pressure inside the vehicle. 


car sick dog looking out car windowYou can also adjust your pet’s position in the car if it is safe to do so. Ensure that your pet is forward-facing and has direct access to a window.


The increased visibility will help with any disorientation that they might be experiencing. Throwing in a favorite toy as a distraction also won’t go astray. 


2. Limit food consumption before getting in the car.

If your dog is prone to vomiting in the car, avoid feeding them directly before a car trip. This will ensure that their stomach is settled and will help to ease any nausea. 


Be sure to still provide plenty of water and small treats as needed. While they shouldn’t be overeating, hunger and dehydration will also exacerbate any symptoms your pet might be suffering from.


3. Use dog-friendly ginger tablets or treats.

Ginger is well known for its ability to settle nausea in humans, but did you know it is also a great natural anti-nausea remedy for dogs? 


ginger for car sick dogGinger is most effective when given 30 – 45 minutes before your trip and comes in many forms. Some owners like to feed pure ginger to their dogs, which is best done by offering it to them on a spoon or hiding it in their regular food.


Personally, I prefer to give my dogs specially-made treats. I find that they’re much easier to carry with you on a road trip, and my pups are always willing to take them without having to play any hiding games. You can find a list of the best ginger dog treats for motion sickness here!


4. Dog pheromones may help relax your anxious dog.

Pheromone products are helpful if your dog’s nausea is caused by anxiety. They send out chemical signals that relay messages to your pet.


In this case, the message is that they are safe. This helps their body relax and ease into the situation.


Pheromone products are available in a range of formats, from calming scent-release collars to sprays that can be applied directly to your pet’s bedding. They are incredibly popular and can also be used in other high-stress circumstances such as fireworks shows and storms. 


5. Anti-nausea medication

If more holistic methods don’t seem to be working, it may be time to look into anti-nausea medication.


While this can often be purchased online or over the counter, it’s always best to first discuss your options with a trusted veterinarian. Your dog’s motion sickness could be a symptom of something else, like an ear infection, and it’s best to explore all avenues before beginning an unprescribed medication.


When you’re finally ready to give car trips another try, remember to start small. You don’t want to push your dog too hard when they’re already feeling stressed or unwell. Your car sick dog should improve over time and, with these five helpful tricks, you should be back on the road before you know it.


Jenni C.
Jenni C.

Jenni and her dog Bailey take every opportunity to go adventuring together. Now their family of pups has grown to 7. Their favorite places to visit are freshwater lakes and mountains.