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Dog car sickness can come in many forms. If you’ve experienced it car sickness with your dog, you know the frustration it brings. It can be your dog physically vomiting, drooling excessively, spinning and showing anxiety or simply not wanting to get into the car at all. There are several reasons dogs can become chronically car sick:

Lack of Exposure to Vehicles:

Riding in the car can be a very foreign motion to dogs. If you bring home your new puppy and only take them in the car once a month (for vet visits, for example), they will not have a chance to acclimate to the vehicle. This can be stressful and can lead to stomach upset.

  • Try short trips daily with young puppies. Even just loading them into the car, driving around the block and returning home is a good start.
  • Take them with you to visit friends and relatives. Not only will this get them acclimated to the car, but it will aid in your socialization work. It’s a win-win!
  • Take them to new locations for their walks. Again, this will help with socialization as well.

Bad Association to Car Motion:

Once your dog has learned that the car makes them feel ill, they can carry that association with them forever. If you notice your dog is upset in the car and showing any of the above signs or behaviours, you need to work on changing the association before it becomes engrained and harder to eliminate.

  • Try short play sessions with your dog in the car to make it a happy place
  • Feed them their meals in the car to help develop a positive association for your dog
  • Bring them into the car and sit with them while they have a nap (bring a book to help pass the time)

Motion Creates Nausea:

Often, it is the actual physical vibration that causes the dog to become upset about the car. Some dogs don’t mind it at all and other dogs are very put off by it.

  • Try some blankets or cushioning to help absorb some of the vibration.
  • Try using a Vari-kennel to give the dog some stability
  • Try different forms of ginger prior to travel (pets will be individual as far as time before travel and amount)
  • Try Gravol as a last resort. It will make your pet sleepy for several hours and may interfere with your plans, depending on where you are taking your pet.

Visual Can Contribute to Dog Car Sickness:

It can also be the visual of the world whizzing by. They may not understand how to focus.

  • Try teaching the dog to lie down rather than trying to see out the window.
  • Try a solid walled crate (cover it if necessary) to help stop the visual

We do hope that some of these tips will help you enjoy summer traveling with your pet and avoid dog car sickness! If you need some ideas on how to travel safely with your dog, visit our earlier blog post Safe Travels with Your Dog.

Hi! I'm Shannon Viljasoo and I joined the McCann team in 1999 while training Quincey, my wonderful and spirited Rottweiler, to have good listening skills. I'm the Director of Online Training and Content for McCann Professional Dog Trainers and I enjoy writing about dogs and dog training for the McCann blog. I currently share my life with 2 Tollers (Reggie & Ned) and I love helping people develop the best possible relationship with their 4-legged family members.