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June 18th, 2014

How to Control Car Sickness in Dogs and Puppies

By Kim Salerno

Much like humans, dogs and puppies can also experience a feeling of illness while on car trips. This car sickness can make pet travel, whether short or long, quite an ordeal for dogs and their families. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your dog in the car.

The most common reasons for car sickness in puppies and dogs are:

• The ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed in puppies. This can cause motion sickness. Fortunately, many dogs will outgrow car sickness.

• Stress can also add to travel sickness. For example, if your dog has only been in the car to go to the vet, he may make himself sick from the worry and apprehension of seeing the vet.

• If your dog has been nauseous the first few times traveling in the car as a puppy, he may have conditioned himself to see car travel as a time when he will get sick.

You can look for some common signs of car sickness in your pet, such as:

• Inactivity

• Restlessness

• Excessive Yawning

• Whining

• Hyper Salivation (drooling)

• Vomiting

Typically symptoms will go away shortly after the vehicle stops.

There are a number of treatment options available to help prevent car sickness for your puppy or dog. Physical comfort in the car, reconditioning, medication and holistic treatments can all help to make car traveling a lot easier on your dog.

Physical Comfort in Car: Try these options to help make the car ride as physically comfortable as possible for your dog.

• Face your dog forward in moving vehicle - if your dog is facing forward he will see less movement. Looking out of the side windows causes objects to blur and that can cause or compound motion sickness.

• Avoid letting your pet travel in the farthest backseat because this is where there is the most motion.

• Opening the windows in the car a little bit may help reduce air pressure inside the vehicle and allow for better ventilation.

• Don’t give your puppy or dog any food for a few hours before getting in the car.

• Try putting him in a travel crate. Sometimes, this helps to keep him from looking outside too much and helps to keep any sickness he may have in a confined space.

• Keep it cool in the vehicle. A hot, stuffy ride can make car sickness worse for your dog.

• Toys may help distract and entertain a high-strung dog.

• Taking frequent potty breaks may also help.

Medication: There are times when medications are necessary to help your dog during pet travel. Some over-the-counter and prescribed medications are listed below.

• Anti-nausea drugs - reduce vomiting.

• Antihistamines - used to lessen motion sickness, reduce drooling, and help them to be calm.

• Phenothiazine and related drugs - reduce vomiting and help to sedate.

Always discuss any medications with your veterinarian before using to make sure your dog is healthy, the dosage is correct, and that the medication won’t harm your dog.

Patience and training may help in preventing car sickness during pet travel. You may also need to stock up on certain medications or holistic remedies to help calm your dog if physical changes and reconditioning don’t do the trick. Hopefully, with time and a little effort your dog will be able to ride safely and happily in your car!

Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her popular web site features pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the US and Canada, along with other helpful pet travel resources. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels.

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