Motion sickness in dogs: make road trips easier on your dog with these tips
A nauseous feeling as soon as the car begins to move. People aren’t the only ones who can suffer from motion sickness. To make the trip as pleasant as possible for your dog, here are some tips for motion sickness in dogs.
What is motion sickness in dogs?
Just like humans, dogs have a vestibular organ that feeds the brain information needed to maintain balance. The organ is active whenever you’re walking, sitting or standing. Dogs have the same thing. When a dog is in a car or a boat, the motion of the vehicle can disrupt the vestibular organ. Your dog might get nauseous, develop a headache, lose its balance or throw up. With the right tips – and potentially medication – you can make the trip pleasant for your dog again, allowing you to head out together without any issues.
Symptoms of motion sickness in dogs
There are several symptoms that indicate motion sickness in a dog, including:
- Vomiting and/or nausea
- Anxiety and/or shivering
- Peeing or pooing
Your dog will probably display some of these symptoms rather than all of them.
Dogs associate events with feelings. That is why it is important to make sure your dog has a positive association with the vehicle. If your dog experiences motion sickness and proceeds to throw up or pee, do not punish the dog. It will only make matters worse.
Having a pup travel by car with its mother, is a great start. A positive response from the mother will usually be copied by the pup.
Tips for the road
There are several things you can do to make the journey as pleasant as possible and give your dog a positive association with car rides:
- Give your dog time to get used to your car. Let it bring something familiar along for the ride.
- Start with short drives and gradually build towards longer journeys.
- Make sure there is enough fresh air inside the car, e.g. by slightly opening a window. Do keep your dog from sticking its head out, since this is a known cause of ear infection.
- Maintain a pleasant temperature. Dogs don’t have the ability to adjust their body temperature as quickly as we do, so keep the temperature not too hot and not too cold.
- Avoid feeding the dog within two hours of departure.
- Make sure you interrupt longer journeys with regular breaks. Get your dog some water and take it for a walk.
- Reward positive behaviour and make sure your dog associates the car with something fun, such as a walk or a game upon arrival, instead of just using the car for trips to the vet.
- For further reading, check out this article about dogs and electric cars.
Various types of medication are available that can help your dog (or cat) with their motion sickness. Consult a vet to see what medication is best for your dog and what dosage to maintain.
On vacation with a pet
Nothing beats hitting the road with your dog. With the right preparation, you can bring your dog on vacation. The article ‘Bringing a pet on vacation’ provides all kinds of tips for a well-prepared journey.
Seeking inspiration for a sustainable vacation? Check out our tips in the article ‘A sustainable vacation with your pet’.