Help! My Dog Gets Carsick
How to stop it for good 🙌
Riding in the car with your dog is inevitable, whether it’s for a vet visit, a trip to the dog park or just a fun drive.
But if your dog throws up every time he gets in the car, that could mean he struggles with car sickness.
The Dodo spoke with Dr. Clarissa B. Lyon, a veterinarian at Larklain Mobile Veterinary Services in Pennsylvania, who explained how to help with your dog’s car sickness, so you don’t end up breaking the bank on cleaning supplies.
Why dogs get car sickness
If you’ve noticed your dog gets carsick, odds are you can relate (and if you can’t, you’re lucky).
“Primarily … [dogs get carsick for] the same reason that people do,” Dr. Lyon told The Dodo. “It’s motion sickness.”
The reason your car's movement makes your pup sick is because he can’t anticipate the movement.
“It’s the difference between actual and expected motion,” Dr. Lyon explained.
What this means is that, since the dog isn’t walking himself or moving on his own, the motion is unexpected when it’s detected by his vestibular system (AKA the system responsible for your balance and movement), which ends up making him nauseous.
It’s the same reason why you get queasy while reading in the car. If your eyes aren’t on the road, you can’t anticipate when or how the car is going to turn, which confuses your body.
But the motion isn’t the only reason your dog might be getting carsick.
“Another component is anxiety, what I would call the anxiety and stress of car travel,” Dr. Lyon said.
Signs your dog is carsick
Aside from the obvious one — vomiting — there are a bunch of other signs that your dog might be suffering from car sickness.
- Lip licking or smacking
- Shaking or trembling
- Tucked tail
- Cowering or hiding
- Hypersalivation (AKA drooling a lot)
How to help a dog with car sickness
The first step to getting rid of your dog’s car sickness is to make sure he’s comfortable being in the car.
“You want to acclimate the dog to car rides to take away the fear component,” Dr. Lyon explained.
To do this, you’ll want to ease your pup into it with super short rides that are only positive for him.
“[Start by] introducing a dog to a car very gradually and slowly [by] first getting into the car then getting him out,” Dr. Lyon said. “Once he’s comfortable, you can take him for a very short ride out of the driveway and back again.”
If you want — and if his stomach is up for it — try giving your dog some treats after each trip in the car, so he associates rides with good things.
If your dog’s car sickness is strictly motion-based and not fear-based, other things that could help include:
- Avoiding windy roads
- Making sure he’s safe, secure and comfortable
- Anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medication
To keep your pup nice and secure in the car, consider hooking him up by his harness or setting him up with a car seat.
And even if you think you can handle your dog’s car sickness on your own, call your vet anyway, because their help could make a huge difference.
“Call the vet right from the get-go, because a veterinarian can dispense a wonderful medication designed for car sickness,” Dr. Lyon said.
So if you’re concerned your BFF might be carsick forever, don’t be! Just follow these tips and you and your dog will be free to drive anywhere you want.
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