Motion Sickness by Dogs - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Help! My Dog Suffers From Motion Sickness in the Car

Motion sickness in dogs, also known as car sickness, is a common problem that can occur when a dog is riding in a car, especially if the dog is not used to traveling by car. Some common signs of motion sickness in dogs include excessive drooling, panting, yawning, vomiting, and restlessness.


Motion sickness in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including the dog's age, size, breed, and individual sensitivity to motion. It can also be caused by the dog's position in the car, such as sitting in the back seat or facing forward. This dog blog will educate you about motion sickness by dogs..


How To Recognize Car Sickness in Dogs?

Unfortunately, car sickness or car sickness in dogs is a common problem that many dogs experience in the car. At least one in five dogs suffers from this type of known problem. This unpleasant experience can eventually lead to a traumatising memory, even when they are adults. And that is why it is important to address this problem right away. What are the concrete symptoms?


Dogs cannot let us know that they are or become nauseous. So we have to make do with what we see in the dog, the symptoms of car sickness. There are several signs that you can look for to recognize if your dog is experiencing car sickness:


  1. Excessive drooling: Your dog may drool excessively or have foam around their mouth;

  2. Panting: Your dog may pant more than usual or appear anxious while riding in the car;

  3. Yawning: Your dog may yawn frequently or seem restless while riding in the car;

  4. Gagging/ Vomiting / Nausea: Your dog may vomit during or after a car ride;

  5. Restlessness: Your dog may pace or whine while riding in the car, or may seem anxious or agitated.


What Causes Dog Motion Sickness?

The cause of motion sickness is a difference between perceived movement and actual movement. This happens with certain changes in direction. Especially if the directional changes are not perceived by the dog (or human).


The balance organ (in the middle ear) does undergo these directional changes. Inside, this organ contains sensitive hairs with fluid. The fluid moves with changes in direction and the hairs register the fluid's movements. The hairs then send signals to the brain. Those signals then deviate from the signals from the dog's eyes, causing disorientation. Disorientation can then activate the vomiting centre.


There are several factors that can contribute to motion sickness in dogs while riding in a car, including:

  1. Sensitivity to motion: Some dogs are more sensitive to motion than others and may be more prone to motion sickness.

  2. Age: Puppies and senior dogs may be more prone to motion sickness than adult dogs.

  3. Breed: Some breeds, such as greyhounds and other sight hounds, may be more prone to motion sickness than other breeds.

  4. Position in the car: The position of the dog in the car can also contribute to motion sickness. For example, sitting in the back seat or facing forward may increase the likelihood of motion sickness.

  5. Stress: Dogs that are anxious or stressed may be more prone to motion sickness.

  6. Full stomach: A full stomach can make motion sickness worse.


It's important to consider these factors when trying to prevent or alleviate motion sickness in dogs while riding in a car. If your dog is experiencing severe symptoms, it's important to consult with a veterinarian for proper treatment and care.


Can Motion Sickness Get Worse Over The Years? 

The moment you let the dog get used to driving, it can happen that the dogs associate this stress or car anxiety. This fear and tension is transformed into the above symptoms. Some dogs already gag when the car is started. It is therefore important to tackle this right from the start. Otherwise, motion sickness can get worse over the years.


How To Prevent Dog Car Sickness?

If your dog suffers from motion sickness, there are several things you can try to help alleviate their symptoms:

  1. Gradually introduce your dog to car travel: Start by taking short trips and gradually increase the length of the trips over time;

  2. Keep the car well-ventilated: Open a window or use the air conditioning to keep the air inside the car fresh. Fresh air: Crack open the window for some fresh air for your puppy’s sniffing pleasure. All those fresh smells carried on the wind will distract the dog from any queasy tummy action. A narrow opening lets it sniff without risking eye injury from flying objects. Also, you will want to stop and let the puppy stroll around for potty breaks during long car rides. Most dogs love to experience new places with their sense of smell. A potty or sniff break can help your puppy associate the car with fun new places and things to explore;

  3. Avoid feeding your dog before a car ride: A full stomach can make motion sickness worse;

  4. Keep your dog in a comfortable position: Allowing your dog to sit or lie down in a comfortable position may help alleviate their symptoms;

  5. Use medication or natural remedies: Your veterinarian may recommend medication to help prevent motion sickness in your dog. There are also natural remedies, such as ginger, that may help alleviate motion sickness in dogs.

  6. Provide the best comfort in the car: The best way to prevent dog travel sickness is to make the car ride as comfortable as possible for your dog. Invest in a good dog car seat that will keep the dog comfortable and safe throughout the car ride;

  7. Booster car seat: Your dog will experience fewer nauseating visual cues if they can't look outside the window. One way to guarantee this is by using a specially designed dog seat booster seat;

  8. Relieve stress: Dogs associate sick feelings with what they anticipate will happen at the end of the ride. To change the dog's mindset, turn the car into a puppy palace of toys and treats the dog only gets near or while inside the car. In a very gradual way, teach your dog that the car offers lots of benefits. Treats and good-dog praise and admiration can go a long way. Anxiety wraps and dog appeasing pheromones can be purchased in pet stores and can help decrease feelings of anxiety;

  9. Time meals: If the puppy has nothing in its tummy to vomit, it will be less likely to feel sick. Be sure to feed the dog several hours before you hit the road. Offer water, though, because that can help settle an iffy tummy;


Checklist: How to Transport a Dog in a Car? | 29 Must-Follow Tips


10x Extra Tips For Car Sickness By Dogs

  1. Invest in a luxury dog car seat;
  2. Bring water and rewards;
  3. Drive carefully and don't accelerate too hard;
  4. Take your young pup in the car early on for short rides;
  5. Letting fresh air in during the car ride also helps;
  6. Let the dog drink water and do not give food 2 hours before departure;
  7. Bring a familiar toy or cuddly toy for the dog;
  8. Associate car rides with something fun such as: a walk in the woods or a day at the beach;
  9. Regular breaks for the dog to get some fresh air outside and run around;
  10. Provide a good climate in the car, dogs can lose their heat badly, much worse than us humans. Overheating is a serious risk, recognisable by lots of drooling, sluggish behaviour and heavy panting.


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