Embarking on a road trip with your furry best friend should be an exhilarating adventure, but for some dogs, it's a journey filled with queasy woes.
As the engine revs and the wheels turn, the battle against dog car sickness begins. From barks to barfs, it's a rollercoaster of emotions and vomit-inducing moments that can leave both you and your four-legged companion feeling paw-fully frustrated.
But fear not, in this article, we'll dive nose-first into the causes, solutions, and soothing strategies to help your beloved pup conquer the twists and turns of car sickness, transforming every ride into a tail-wagging triumph.
But first, a few common questions about this issue...
Which Dog Breeds Suffer The Most From Car Sickness?
While just about any dog breed can suffer from motion sickness, some dogs are more likely to get ill than others.
If you have one of the following breeds in your pack, you might want to keep an eye out for dog motion sickness during car rides:
Both English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs are known to experience motion sickness easily. Their short snouts and brachycephalic anatomy may contribute to their increased sensitivity to motion.
Another breed prone to car sickness is the Boxer. They're a fun-loving and excitable dog breed, but they're also known for being extremely sensitive. Keep a clean-up towel nearby if you're taking your boxer for a car ride.
Cocker Spaniels, particularly those with a more nervous temperament, may be more susceptible to motion sickness during car rides.
Puppies and Young Dogs
Regardless of their breed, all puppies are susceptible to car sickness.
That's mainly due to their developing vestibular system. The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, helps maintain equilibrium, and infection or another issue may cause car sickness for puppies.
What Causes Car Sickness?
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Also called motion sickness, car sickness is related to the sense of balance. There are two main reasons dogs get carsick: psychological or physical, and psychological reasons can trigger physical ones.
Triggers of Canine Motion Sickness
- Ear infections
- Vestibular disease
- Memories of a previous stressful event
Symptoms of Carsickness in Dogs
There are a few different things that will tell you that your pup isn't feeling too well - besides actually seeing your dog barf on the backseat that is. So keep your eye open for some of the following tell-tale signs:
- Excessive drooling
- Licking or smacking lips
- Inactivity or lethargy
How to Treat Dog Car Sickness
Luckily, there are many things you can do to help prevent your pup from getting car sick on future rides.
It’s never a bad idea to start with a trip to the vet to rule out serious health conditions like a severe ear infection or vestibular disease.
If your puppy doesn't outgrow motion sickness you should consult a veterinarian as the issue can be associated with inner ear infections.
After ruling out health problems, try these tactics to help your pup feel better on future car rides.
If your puppy got car sick the first couple of times you took them somewhere, they may always remember that feeling and start feeling ill before the ride even begins.
Desensitization can help break the association between the car and feeling sick.
Start by putting your pup in the car and giving them treats while the car is still off. After doing that every day for a few days, turn the car on for a few minutes while your pup is inside, reward your dog, then take them out of the vehicle again.
Next, start taking short drives to places they enjoy, like the park or a pet food store.
Once your dog associates the car with good things like treats and playtime, they may be less likely to get carsick in the future.
Keep Them In A Crate During Car Rides
If your dog is already crate-trained, keeping them in a travel crate in the car may help them feel more secure, less anxious, and less carsick.
Positioning the crate correctly (facing forward) will also help reduce motion sickness. Crate-trained dogs associate their crates with a safe space and are usually eager to enter whenever they feel anxious.
Plus, crates that are designed specifically to help reduce motion sickness can be strapped in and are thus much safer for both your pup and you in case of an accident!
Don’t Feed Them Before a Long Drive
"Where there is no wood, the fire goes out." - Ancient Proverb
"If your dog has an empty stomach he has nothing to mess the car with." - Sparkpaw's words of wisdom
Try to withhold food or treats for 3-4 hours before putting them in the car so they don’t have a full stomach. In saying that, don't be cruel. Make sure that your dog always has access to fresh water, even during short trips.
Give Them a New Toy to Play With
Buy your dog a new toy or keep one of their favorite toys in the car.
A toy they only get to play with in the car can help make drives more exciting and less anxiety-inducing, reducing the likelihood your pup will get car sick.
Keep Your Car Cool
Hot, stuffy rooms probably make you a little nauseous, too, right?
Remember that your dog should be in the back seat (airbags make riding in the passenger seat dangerous for pups) and that there is likely less cool air reaching your dog than is hitting your hands on the steering wheel.
Crank up the AC or crack the windows to ensure your pup is cool enough during car travel. Fresh air is one of the easiest, natural remedies to help prevent motion sickness in dogs.
Give Them Things With Your Scent for the Drive
Dogs find the scent of their owner comforting, so giving them the t-shirt you wore yesterday to sniff during the drive may help your pup stay calm.
Although this is not a proven method of preventing motion sickness, a calm dog is easier to deal with than an anxious, stressed-out dog.
Stop Often for Breaks
Just as you should be stopping every hour or two on a long road trip to stretch your legs, your pup needs breaks to run around, breathe fresh air, and let its stomach settle.
Long car rides can be particularly challenging for adult dogs as they aren't used to being confined in a small space.
So if your dog shows signs of nausea during car trips, simply schedule regular stops to break up the trip.
Medication can Help Prevent Car Sickness in Dogs
When all else fails, talk to your vet about medications or other solutions to help prevent your dog from getting carsick.
Anti-anxiety medication, prescribed by your local veterinarian, will help your dog stay calm before they get in the car (or travel crate)
Not in the mood for a trip to the vet?
Try some non-prescription, home remedies. Ginger has long been used for its anti-nausea properties. Try to give it to your dog in different forms, like ginger sticks or ginger-infused dog treats. It will help their stomachs settle and reduce nausea.