Motion Sickness and Your Dog

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Like humans, dogs are susceptible to motion sickness. It often strikes in the car, but is seen on planes and boats, too. Young dogs are more likely to experience problems because their ears and equilibrium are not yet fully developed. Many puppies outgrow the condition, but not all do. If your dog experiences motion sickness in the car, don’t worry; there are several approaches to remedying the condition and sparing your seats from its unpleasant effects.

"Simple changes like increasing your dog's comfort in the car can help lessen motion sickness."

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Motion Sickness in Dogs

Dogs suffering from motion sickness often lick their lips repeatedly. They may whine, yelp, or otherwise vocalize their distress. Yawning, excessive drooling, listlessness, staying still, and appearing ill-at-ease are other common symptoms. Vomiting is seen in moderate to severe cases, and particularly upset dogs sometimes urinate or defecate.

If these symptoms are observed consistently in the car, motion sickness is a likely diagnosis. Mention them to your veterinarian. If the symptoms also manifest elsewhere or if there are other causes for concern, your veterinarian will rule out other health problems.

Cerenia for Dogs

Behavioral Therapy to Treat Motion Sickness in Dogs

In many cases, a behavioral approach treats your dog’s motion sickness. The basic idea is to reduce stress associated with travel. Help your dog acclimate to being in the car. Begin by spending time in the car with your dog on a few occasions without turning it on. Then, sit in the car a few times with the engine running. Once your dog is comfortable with that, take short trips, gradually increasing their length.

Dogs that only ride in the car to go to veterinary appointments quickly associate the car with an unpleasant experience. If this is the case with your pet, start driving to places she enjoys, such as the dog park or a store where she gets treats. Also, a special toy that is only accessible in the car makes trips more enjoyable.

Increase Your Dog's Comfort in the Car

Your dog’s physical comfort in the car increases her emotional comfort and lessens motion sickness. Make sure the car isn’t hot or humid. Roll the windows down a few inches, but don’t let your dog stick her head out the window; this puts her at risk of injury. Because airbags pose a serious risk to dogs, they shouldn’t ride up front. Dogs are more likely to feel ill looking out side windows. Encourage your dog to face forward, using a dog seat belt if necessary. Many dogs feel more secure when crated in the car, so consider this option. As an added bonus, crates contain the vomit if your dog gets sick.

Diphenhydramine Antihistamines for Dogs

Refrain from feeding your dog before a trip, as fullness increases motion sickness. However, a small, sugary treat before the ride may help (remember that chocolate is toxic to dogs). A bit of ginger fed about 30 minutes beforehand may help settle your dog’s stomach and prevent motion sickness, assuming your veterinarian approves.

Treating Motion Sickness with Medication

If you are unable to remedy your dog’s motion sickness with behavioral therapy and by making her more comfortable in the car, consult your veterinarian about using medication. There are a few effective options for treating motion sickness in dogs. Antiemetic medications, such as Cerenia, are frequently used for this purpose. Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, may also help while also providing some sedation and reducing drooling.




The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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