Here’s What To Do When Your Pup Suffers From Motion Sickness

Written by: Stephanie Valente

August 18, 2015

Ah, the joy of going for a drive. Sunglasses on, good music streaming, the wind in my face. Dog puke in my car. Wait, what?

scared black lab

Just like humans, dogs can also experience motion sickness in moving vehicles. It can be cars, boats, planes, or subways for those of you that bring your pups to work. Puppies are more likely to experience motion sickness due to an underdeveloped inner ear, but the overload of stimuli car travel offers can daunt even the most mature dog.

Here are the best tips and techniques for helping your dog with motion sickness, from preventing and supporting the illness, it’s all here.

1. Educate yourself on the causes of motion sickness.

Traveling in a confined space without knowing for how long can be scary and frustrating! And being put into a confined space will begin to trigger the symptoms. This mostly happens in a car, train, boat, or plane.

"How much longer until dis is over?"

Pups can get motion sickness even without the physical feelings of a moving vehicle. The stress and uncertainty of travel can add to or escalate symptoms dramatically. The takeaway here is that motion sickness can be a product of both motion AND anxiety.

2. Know the warning signs.

Dr. Elaine Felton from Brooklyn shares one of the biggest indicators. “Dogs who suffer from motion sickness are anxious and unhappy,” she said. “They don’t want to get into the car and do not enjoy the ride.”

So if your dog holds on to the car door frame with all four paws to avoid being buckled in, that’s a pretty good sign they might get motion sick.

"I pawfer not to."

Because motion sickness results from a fluid imbalance in the inner ear, motion sickness easily activates the vomiting center of the brain. So throw-up is also a pretty good indicator your dog is motion sick.

Also be on the lookout for panting, drooling excessively, whining, yawning, lethargy, and/or diarrhea.

3. Medication.

For most pup parents, this is only called for if you already know your dog is prone to motion sickness. If you don’t know, it would be hard to give it to your pup without knowing how he or she reacts in a moving vehicle.

"Hey, what's up? How are you? I just ralphed in the back seat."

Dr. Felton noted that the only FDA approved prevention drug for motion sickness is Cerenia. The medication is administered in pill form and should be given two hours before travel. Always consult with your vet before introducing new drugs to your dog.

4. Conditioning.

Other ways to prevent motion sickness can involve gradually increasing the amount and duration of your car trips, rewarding your pup with special toys to play with only in the car, keeping the car a safe and calm environment, and don’t forget to bring an item from home such as a blanket for a familiar smell. You might also want to look into dog-designed car seats and belts, or add in the Thunder Shirt into a travel routine.

"I love a good drive in the country!"

Remember, the calmer and smoother the environment, the better chance your pup has for feeling better. Maybe your dog likes soothing music — or whatever you both consider soothing, that might be Heavy Metal and that’s awesome — or you need to take more surface streets versus highways. Speak in a calm, slow, and soothing voice.

Take the time to implement different strategies with love and patience, and you might find yourself with a happier, more secure pup. Do you have any other strategies that help with motion sickness? Please share with us!

Featured image via Thugpanda

H/t to Dog Time and Vet Street

Written by: Stephanie Valente

August 18, 2015

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A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.