Motion sickness in dogs is fairly common but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant for the dog or owner. When you travel in the car, you may witness your dog in some distress and wonder what you can do to help.
Your dog may display symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea when traveling and it can make you feel hesitant to take your dog anywhere in the car. So, what causes motion sickness in dogs and how can you help? Read below for some top tips.
What Causes Motion Sickness in Dogs?
Puppies often have motion sickness because the part of their inner ear that promotes balance isn’t fully developed. This can make them feel unsteady and nauseous if they aren’t restrained. If a puppy has a bad first experience of traveling in a car, they may well associate all future travel with that experience.
Similarly, adult dogs often associate traveling in the car with visiting the vet. If their only experiences of being in a car are to go to and from the vet, they’ll learn to associate travel with the stressful and uneasy process that comes after it.
These associations can come with heightened anxiety which leads to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You can help your dog by addressing the associations and creating a positive experience.
Symptoms and Signs of Motion Sickness
It’s important to look out for symptoms and signs of motion sickness because it may not always present itself as vomiting. Some dogs will begin to pace and whine, especially if crated in the trunk of the car.
Your dog may also start drooling more than usual or licking his lips. Although some dogs pace, other dogs may become very still and lethargic during a car ride. If your dog is normally active and inquisitive, this could be a sign of motion sickness.
The most obvious signs are vomiting and diarrhea. When this happens, your dog may need help and medication to deal with motion sickness.
Preventing Motion Sickness
This is where dog owners have to put some real effort in. Counter-conditioning your dog to motion sickness isn’t going to happen overnight but it is possible. If you’re able to re-associate travel with positive experiences, you’ll be able to take more trips and adventures with your beloved pooch.
The best way to do this is to start taking short trips frequently. You can get your dog used to the idea by firstly sitting in your car with your dog and starting the engine. Stay where you are for ten minutes and then get out.
The next day, you can start the engine and back out of the driveway and come back in. It’s all a process of baby steps for your dog and good behavior or achievements should always be rewarded.
Slowly work up to a 30-minute drive. However, if your dog becomes anxious at any point, go back to the drive that your dog was comfortable with and continue to slowly work your way up.
What Else Can You Do?
There are a few other things you can do to avoid your pet becoming nauseous and sick. For example, you may want to withhold food for 12 hours if you know you’re going on a journey. Having an empty stomach will mean your dog is less likely to feel nauseous and vomit.
It’s a good idea to use a crate or carrier for your dog when going on a long journey. Nervous dogs have a habit of hurting themselves or others when left to roam. At worst, your dog could cause a road traffic accident.
Your dog may be comforted by the familiar smells of home. Try bringing some old clothes or dog toys with you on your journey, so your dog feels like your car is part of your home.
It can also help to play soft and quiet music while on your journey. Loud noises or high temperatures will just add to your dog’s distress. Keep the car cool and calm for your dog.
If all else fails, your dog may need a helping hand from your vet. Some medicines can reduce nausea during car journeys. If you’re wondering can you give Dramamine to dogs, your vet will be able to advise you properly. CBD products are often effective in reducing nausea and anxiety in dogs.
When to See a Veterinarian
If your dog seems unwell during your car journey, you should observe him closely. Some owners can mistake heat exhaustion, poisoning, or illness for motion sickness. If your dog isn’t prone to motion sickness or hasn’t vomited before, it’s important to get him checked out.
This is especially true of dogs that are used to traveling or have only had mild motion sickness symptoms in the past.
Motion Sickness: How to Help Your Dog
Motion sickness can become manageable in dogs if the dog is aware of what to expect. If a dog knows that a car journey leads to a pleasant walk and fun with a ball, he’ll gradually become more accepting of the car journey.
You can help your dog with positive reinforcement and plenty of encouragement and rewards. If more is needed, ask your vet for advice for medicating your dog on long journeys so he doesn’t become panicked and ill.
Take a look at more of our articles for more great advice.