Sara’s 10 steps to treating car sickness in dogs

July 21, 2021

Not all cases of travel sickness in dogs result in car seats being redecorated. There are other symptoms that show your dog is feeling unwell on your journey, and even before you start. Our experienced head vet, Sara Wreglesworth, explains what to look out for, and how you can help your dog cope with car travel.

Visit our Vet Nurses for advice

Causes and symptoms of travel sickness in dogs

Travel, or motion sickness in dogs is more commonly seen in puppies and young dogs because the ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed yet. Most puppies should outgrow motion sickness by the time they are about 12 months old.

Some older dogs, however, will start to fret as soon as you open the car door. A common reason for this is stress. If your dog is only ever in the car for a trip to somewhere they have associated with a negative experience, anxiety can lead to nausea and vomiting.

When it comes to the symptoms of motion sickness, Sara advises dog owners to watch for any signs of inactivity, yawning, whining, excessive drooling, smacking or licking lips, and vomiting.

10 steps to treating motion sickness in dogs

If your dog suffers from sickness while travelling, don’t panic. There are plenty of steps you can take to minimise suffering.

  1. Take your pet back to basics to build up their tolerance level. Try just sitting in your car with them for a while, before embarking on a trip to the end of the road and back. Gradually progress a little further each time and give them extra praise after each session, so they associate car travel with a positive experience.
  2. Make the car journey as comfortable as possible; ensure your dog is facing forwards while travelling rather than looking out of side windows. Buy a dog seatbelt to keep them secure.
  3. Keep your vehicle cool and well ventilated. Lower windows slightly when the car is moving to balance air pressure in the car.
  4. Limit their food consumption before travelling.
  5. Give them their blanket and favourite toy in the car to try and pacify them.
  6. A natural remedy you can try for dog car sickness is placing a cotton ball with a few drops of lavender or chamomile oil on, inside your car 30 minutes before you set off. This fills the car with a soothing aroma. Be sure to remove the cotton ball so your dog doesn’t eat it.
  7. Spray a small amount of Dog Appeasing Pheromone inside the car. Ask us about this.
  8. Vary destinations so your dog doesn’t just associate car travel with vet visits, or wherever else they are uncomfortable. Why not throw in some trips to an exciting new park?
  9. Try using desentisation techniques at the places where your dog seems nervous (if it’s safe for them). For example, you can bring your dog to our Grange Road clinic just to get a treat and some fuss from our team. Weigh-ins make good interim visits too. Several positive experiences in a row will help your dog learn that not all vet visits involve a thermometer up their…
  10. If your dog’s travel sickness isn’t improving, talk to Sara or one of our vets about whether a prescription tablet could help. Never give your dog human travel sickness tablets.

Good luck, and we hope you enjoy an incident-free journey with your dog soon. If you need any further advice or support, we recommend making an appointment with one of our friendly Vet Nurses by calling 01745 853 366.