Can Dogs Get Car Sick? -
Can Dogs Get Car Sick?

Can Dogs Get Car Sick?

In movies or while you’re driving around town, you see windows cracked and dogs smiling, ears flapping in the wind and having the time of their lives.

But that isn’t the case for all dogs. Some dogs can get sick from car rides and experience motion sickness.

What Is Car Sickness In Dogs?

Car sickness or motion sickness in dogs is quite a common problem. Many dogs don’t enjoy being in the car even for a short drive. It’s more common in puppies and, like human children, they often outgrow it. But if they don’t, it can be difficult when you need to take your dog to the veterinarian or groomer … or even a fun outing like the dog park.

So you’ll want to work on helping your be dog as comfortable as possible in the car.

What Causes Car Sickness In Dogs?

The inner ears regulate balance, and when your dog feels car sickness, it’s often because there’s an imbalance in sensory signals between what your dog sees and what he feels. It’s similar to being on a rocking boat and seeing the horizon moving up and down before your eyes. These mixed signals can cause nausea and vomiting in your dog. 

The reason puppies often get car sick is that the ear structures they need for balance aren’t yet developed. But most will outgrow that problem.

Stress can add to the problem, so if your dog suspects he’s going to the vet, that can make things worse.

What Are The Symptoms Of Motion Sickness In Dogs?

Here’s are some common signs of motion sickness you may notice if your dog’s not feeling so good on his car ride.

  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Licking or smacking lips
  • Looking dizzy or uneasy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

There are other signs that suggest your dog may be anxious, but not feeling car sick.

  • Trembling
  • Chewing
  • Crying
  • Panting
  • Barking
  • Yawning (often a sign of stress, not sleepiness, in dogs)

If your dog shows any of these behaviors, he may be feeling more nervous than carsick. Perhaps he had a traumatic experience on a previous car ride … or he just thinks he’s going to the vet or groomer. 

When your dog suffers from car sickness or travel anxiety, there are many natural remedies you can use to help him feel better on rides.

Natural Remedies For Car Sickness

Here are a variety of natural solutions for car sickness in your dog. 

CBD Oil For Car Sickness

Did you know that dogs can have CBD oil (cannabidiol)? CBD oil is made from hemp and won’t make your dog high … because it doesn’t have tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis. But it can still have calming effects on your dog and help him feel better in the car.

CBD is used for mood disorders, pain, cancer and seizures. And research shows it can relieve vomiting and nausea, as well as anxiety. For car sickness and anxiety, buy a full spectrum CBD oil in a 500 mg strength, and squirt a dropper full in your dog’s mouth about an hour before travel. 

Herbs For Motion Sickness In Dogs

You can also ease your dog’s car sickness with herbs you can easily buy or grow in your garden. The following herbs are particularly effective for an upset stomach, with or without vomiting. Here are some top herbs for carsickness in dogs:

  • Ginger
  • Catnip
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Peppermint

Here’s how to use them … 

Research shows ginger has fewer side effects and can be more effective than conventional motion-sickness medication like Dramamine.  Use a herbal tincture and give your dog 10 to 20 drops per 20 lbs of body weight, twice a day.

Caution: Don’t give ginger to dogs on blood thinners, dogs going into labor or having surgery. Also, check with your vet before giving pregnant or diabetic dogs ginger.

Catnip is famous for cats, but you can also use it instead of anti-anxiety medication to calm your dog’s nerves. Start by giving your dog 12 drops of a catnip tincture in his water; if that isn’t enough, add more tincture in 6 drop increments.

Caution: Catnip seeds are not safe for dogs, but products made from the flowers, stems and leaves are safe,.

Dill acts as an anti-gas remedy, reduces stomach upset and is effective for relieving nausea in dogs that are feeling carsick.

The best way to give a dill is to make a tea with1 tsp of dill seed steeped in 8 oz of boiling water. Once the tea has cooled, you can give your dog 2-8 ounces of the tea before leaving.

Caution: Don’t use dill for pregnant of lactating dogs.

Fennel is well known for easing digestive problems in people … and it can work for your dog too. Give your dog 10 to 20 drops of a fennel tincture per 20 pounds of bodyweight, as needed.

Caution: Don’t give fennel for pregnant or lactating dogs.

This easy-to-grow herb helps calm muscles, easing nausea and gas. Peppermint is best given as an infusion to help calm a dog with motion sickness.

Steep 2 tbsp of fresn or dried peppermint in 8 oz of nearly boiling water, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Strain the water and let the tea infusion cool. Give your dog 1 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight 2 to 3 times daily.

Caution: Don’t try to shortcut this recipe by giving your dog undiluted peppermint oil, It’s highly concentrated and can cause liver or kidney problems.

RELATED: How To Stop Car Sickness Naturally …

Flower Essences For Car Sickness

Flower essences are gentle remedies that can help your dog with anxiety or even nausea from car travel.  You can buy individual remedies to suit your dog, or get a blend like Rescue Remedy. Place a few drops in your dog’s mouth several times in the hours before travel (you can’t overdose flower essences). You can also put the drops in his water bowl so he gets it often. 

Use A Crate For Your Dog’s Motion Sickness

An easy way to help your dog feel better in the car is to put him in a travel crate. Put your dog in it so he’s facing the direction of travel. If it’s a mesh crate, it’s often best to cover it with a towel or sheet. When you remove your dog’s ability to see outside, he won’t feel the disconnect between his ears and eyes that cause the nausea.

Caution: Always make sure your dog’s crate is properly secured in the car. 

Try Open Windows For Dog Car Sickness

Just like kids, some dogs do better in the car with the windows open. The fresh air can help them feel better. and the sights and smells help distract them from anxiety. Open windows can also help lower air pressure in the car and that can relieve your dog’s nausea as well. 

The cooler the air, the better for most carsick dogs. So even if you don’t open the windows, keep your car cool and don’t crank up the heat in winter!

Practice Short Car Rides

It can be a good idea to practice with some really short rides to get your dog used to the car. Take him somewhere fun, like a local park a block or two away so he can play. That positive association may help him look forward to car trips so that he’ll forget he doesn’t like the car. As he improves, gradually make the rides a little longer. As you progress to longer trips, make frequent stops for potty breaks so your dog can get out and relax in the fresh air. That’s also a good time to give him some freshwater so he stays hydrated. 

Try some of these ideas to help your dog with his car sickness. Pretty soon he’ll be enjoying cross-country road trips with you!