Posted by Pet Honesty on

What to Do if Your Dog Gets Sick in the Car

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Some pups love nothing more than a road trip. Even the jingle of your car keys might have Fido wagging his tail and barking at the thought of sticking his head out the window and feeling a cool breeze as the outside world passes by.

Other dogs, however, experience motion sickness in the car, causing nausea and occasional vomiting. This can be quite challenging for dog owners when it’s necessary to take their pup to the vet or groomer. If not dealt with early on, it can become a lifelong struggle because your dog might begin to associate traveling in the car with sickness and it could potentially lead to chronic stress and anxiety.

If your dog gets sick in the car, there are a number of steps you can take to support him. But first, it’s important to know how to identify the signs of motion sickness.

Signs of Motion Sickness

Dog motion sickness is most common among puppies due to the fact that the ear structure used for balance has not been fully developed yet. However, adult dogs can experience it, too. The following behaviors may indicate that your dog is suffering from motion sickness:

  • Lethargy and uneasiness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Yawning
  • Panting
  • Unusual body posture
  • Vomiting 
  • Whining
  • Lip-licking

If you notice any of the following signs, take your dog to the vet to first rule out any illnesses that could cause similar symptoms, like ear infections or high blood pressure. It’s important to not immediately assume motion sickness is the cause if your dog gets sick in the car. Your vet will be able to help you understand what’s causing your dog’s sickness.

What to Do if Your Dog Gets Sick in the Car

Dog gets car sick.

If your vet has ruled out any medical conditions and it seems as though motion sickness is the culprit, consider trying some of the following tips:

  • Limit food consumption before travel: Try to make sure your pup hasn’t eaten a large meal right before getting in the car. Some dog owners will give their dog a dog-safe sugary treat prior to travel, as small amounts of sugar have been known to reduce sensations associated with nausea. 
  • Try to get your pup to face forward: Using a dog seatbelt or crate, try your best to get your dog facing forward, as this is less likely to cause nausea. 
  • Roll down the windows: You don’t have to roll down your windows all the way for this to be effective, but letting some fresh air inside the car will help balance the pressure and reduce your dog’s discomfort. 
  • Build tolerance: Before taking your pup on a long road trip, start by just letting him sit in the car with you while the car is not moving to help him get comfortable in the space. Slowly build up distance by driving around the block, then try going a little bit further each time and observe your dog’s reaction.
  • Try a different car: If you have another vehicle in your family, it might help to try a car ride in a different vehicle than you normally use. Your pup may associate the smell of your vehicle with sickness, so trying a different environment could help him stop making that association.
  • Give your dog a calming treat: If your pooch’s car sickness is accompanied by stress and anxiety, it may be beneficial to give him a calming treat prior to travel. Pet Honesty’s Hemp Calming Chews are specifically formulated to temporarily calm a dog’s demeanor and can help soothe an anxious pup. For more extreme cases, we recommend our Premium Hemp Calming Chews, which provide maximum support and a gentle, non-sedating way to help your pup calm down in stressful situations.

Each time you hop in the car with your dog, remember that your furry passenger might need some accommodations to avoid sickness and make car rides less stressful for the both of you.