Motion Sickness in Dogs

By: Carol S. Hillhouse, DVM, DABVP

TVMA Member
Panhandle, TX

Published October 2018

Just like human children, lots of puppies get carsick due to immature inner ear structures. Motion sickness is much less common in adult dogs, but it can continue after puppyhood if they become conditioned to vomit during car rides. If your puppy has shown signs of nausea, such as drooling, restlessness, vomiting, etc., during a car ride, discuss it with your veterinarian. Physical problems must be ruled out first, but here are some options to try that might help a pooch with the pukes:

  1. Secure the pup in a crate or on a non-slip surface.
  2. Open windows a few inches and keep the car cool.
  3. Position the dog to face forward, remembering that a front seat with airbags can be risky.
  4. Reduce the number of car trips for a few weeks as the puppy matures.
  5. Try using a different vehicle.
  6. Try taking some positive trips (not just to the “scary” veterinarian) and build car exposure gradually.
  7. As best you can, pick smooth, straight routes. Avoid twists, bumps, dusty roads and hills.
  8. Most pups ride well on an empty stomach, but a few fare better with a small meal before a trip.
  9. Speak with your veterinarian about using medication for car trips. In most cases, this only will be needed temporarily. There are several medications from which to choose, and each case is treated individually according to the main problem. Some are strictly for nausea, and others may have sedative, anti-anxiety or antihistamine benefits as well.

Motion sickness is certainly unpleasant for the dog and the person who cleans it up! Fortunately, the problem can be addressed with the tips above and a tincture of time. A happy canine traveler with a settled stomach is the goal!

Dr. Carol Hillhouse owns two mixed animal practices in the Texas Panhandle: Carson County Veterinary Clinic and High Plains Animal Hospital.

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