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How to Prevent Dog Travel Sickness

How to Prevent Dog Travel Sickness

Dog travel sickness is not ideal, especially if you had visions of going on holidays with your four-legged friend or taking them for walks further afield. If your dog gets queasy every time they hop in the car, it can turn every fun trip into a stressful one, not to mention having to scrub dog vomit out of your car seats is a nightmare in itself. But don’t worry, you don’t have to lose all hope of adventure just yet! 

Keep reading for our top tips on how to stop dog travel sickness and discover what the most common causes of it are.

What causes dog travel sickness?

Similar to travel sickness in young children, dog travel sickness mostly affects younger dogs or puppies. This is known as true motion sickness and it’s caused by the ear structures responsible for balance which haven’t yet fully developed. Many dogs and children will outgrow it, but that’s not always the case. 

If your dog has long since passed their puppy stage, their sickness will likely be due to conditioning. When they were a puppy, they may have experienced dog car sickness and now they just associate the car with being sick in general. Alternatively, they may just be stressed about going in the car, which could be especially true if you usually only take them for a ride to the vets or other worrisome situations.

What are the signs of dog car sickness?

There are a few signs of dog travel sickness you should be on the lookout for, including: 

  • Vomiting

  • Frequent yawning

  • Crying or whining

  • Drooling

  • Panting

  • Licking lips

  • Chewing

  • Restlessness

How do you stop dog travel sickness?

Firstly, before understanding how to stop it, you’ll need to figure out the cause of your dog’s travel sickness as each needs to be treated very differently. 

True motion sickness

If your dog has true motion sickness and it’s particularly bad, you may need to speak to your vet about prescribing anti-nausea medication. However, there are a few tips you can try before this.

  • Don’t feed your dog for at least a few hours before you set off

  • Open the window a crack to allow fresh air in, but not wide enough so they can fit their head out

  • Travel with your dog facing forward – if they usually sit in the boot, consider moving them to the back seat and belting them in.

If your dog is only a puppy, they’ll hopefully grow out of travel sickness, but it’s important you ensure the car is a positive experience at this age, so it doesn’t turn into anxiety or stress induced car sickness later on.

Anxiety induced

Anxiety induced car sickness in dogs isn’t something they’ll grow out of and they’ll need your help to start thinking of the car as a positive thing. Sometimes your dog may be worried about a particular car, so if you can, try taking them in a different vehicle and see if their behaviour changes. Additionally, you could try travelling with another person in the car to offer some company and a distraction whilst you drive.

If changing vehicle and travelling with a buddy doesn’t help, it’s a good idea to take things back to basics and build things up gradually. First off, try just popping them in the car and playing with them and offer them plenty of praise and treats to make it a great experience. Do this until they seem completely happy and then try taking them on a short trip. Just make sure that the end destination is a fun one! 

It’s important to note that whilst you’re training them to get used to the car, if at any point your dog seems worried, start over from the beginning. 

If your dog’s reaction to the car is particularly adverse, it’s best to enlist the help of a behaviourist to work with both you and your dog. 

That’s our guide to dog travel sickness and how to help. Once your dog’s got their road legs again, why not check out our travel advice on our behind the wheel blog?

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