Dog Car Sickness

Travelling with your dog is one of the most pleasurable things you can do, except if they suffer from car or motion sickness! Fear not though, there are natural remedies and even drugs that can help.

More importantly though, you can train your dog to enjoy travelling in the car. 

Dog Vomit.jpg

We had to do this with Nelly, as she suffered from extreme car sickness when we got her. I will always remember driving her down the coast for the first time. She made it about half an hour before losing her breakfast. And to make matters worse, she ate it back up again! Gross! Unfortunately, that came back up again 10 minutes later. Lets just say it was not a pleasant car trip..

Unfortunately lots of dogs experience nausea, especially puppies. Car sickness is more commonly seen in younger dogs because their ears aren’t yet fully developed. It’s the same reason that children are more prone to motion sickness than adults.

Dog Vomit.jpg

Signs of Car Sickness

  1. Vomiting

  2. Yawning

  3. Whining

  4. Drooling

If you notice your dog doing any of these things while driving, they are likely to be experiencing nausea. So lets look at what you can do about it.

Positive Conditioning

The best way to avoid car sickness is to teach your dog to travel well. Start by giving your dog a break from the car. After a week or 2, try making short trips with a reward at the end - like to the local park for a walk or play. For dogs with acute motion sickness, bring a friend to calm and occupy your dog on these trips until they can travel the distance without nausea.

After a short period of time your dog will start to associate the car with the pleasurable experience of going for a walk with you. Gradually increase the length of trip, but make sure immediately after stopping your dog gets a positive experience.

If this doesn’t work, try the whole process again in a different car, preferably a bigger one if possible. This helps remove the association with your particular car, and once you have them travelling OK in another car they are much more likely to be ok in yours.

Some other tips:

  • Putting the window down a little on both sides of the car helps equalise the air pressure, which can provide some relief for them. 

  • It can be helpful to face your dog forward, instead of looking out the side window. You can get special dog harnesses which will help you do this.

  • Make sure the car is cool and well ventilated. A hot, stuff back of car can only make matters worse for a nauseous dog.

  • Some people have success by placing a small amount of lavender oil on their dog's collar.

  • Limit food consumption at least 2 hours before travel (6 is better). Being a little hungry is a lot better than having dinner all over the back seats.

  • Frequent stops on long trips can provide some relief, and prevent a car sickness incident before it happens.


Other options

If these approaches aren’t helping, there are herbal and pharmaceutical options to explore. We try to use herbal medicine wherever possible, because it has less side effects and minimises the harm to your dog. 

Ginger can be great for treating nausea in dogs and people alike. Try grating a small amount of ginger and carrot, and mix it with yogurt and a little peanut butter if they need enticing. Give it to your dog 20 minutes before you get in the car.