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Dog Car Sickness and Motion Sickness

For numerous canines, hopping into the family car marks the beginning of an exciting adventure. Yet, for dogs prone to motion sickness, car rides become an unpleasant experience, regardless of the destination’s allure.


Various signs indicate dog motion sickness, such as:

  • Excessive lip licking
  • Whining
  • Drooling
  • Yawning
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive panting
  • Trembling/shaking


The causes of dog car sickness and motion sickness stem from conflicting sensory signals reaching the emetic (vomiting) center in the brain. Essentially, signals from the vestibular system in the inner ear, responsible for balance, clash with signals from the eyes, potentially inducing nausea and vomiting, akin to human motion sickness.

Several receptors contribute to this process, including the Chemoreceptor trigger zone (CRTZ), histamine, and Neurokinin 1 substance P (NK1) receptors. Additionally, fear, anxiety, or past traumatic experiences in a vehicle might also trigger motion sickness in dogs, irrespective of the type of vehicle used for travel.

Puppies tend to be more susceptible to motion sickness than adult dogs since the components of the inner ear involved in balance are not fully developed in puppies. Fortunately, motion sickness in puppies often improves and resolves as they age.

Are There Natural Remedies for Dog Motion Sickness?

There are various natural remedies recommended for dogs experiencing motion sickness:

Ginger: Anecdotal evidence suggests that ginger can alleviate nausea and vomiting in dogs. However, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian before administering it, especially for dogs with known bleeding disorders or those on anticoagulants or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Adaptil: Adaptil is a calming pheromone product available in spray or collar form for dogs. The collar offers daily calming effects, while the spray is suitable for use 15-20 minutes before travel or other stressful events. Apply the spray inside your vehicle or the travel kennel before loading your dog.

Calming Supplements: Various orally administered supplements, such as Solliquin, Composure, and Rescue Remedy, are designed to soothe dogs. Some may require daily administration for several days to weeks for optimal results. These products typically have minimal negative side effects and are safe for most dogs.

Lavender: Lavender serves as a safe aromatherapy option, available in spray form. You can also use lavender essential oil on a cotton ball placed in your vehicle a few minutes before departure. Ensure you dispose of the cotton ball after the trip and keep it out of your dog’s reach to prevent ingestion.

CBD Supplements: CBD (cannabidiol) supplements are another option for dog motion sickness. They are available in various forms, including chews, treats, and oil. However, CBD regulations vary widely, and product quality isn’t always guaranteed. Consult your veterinarian for reliable CBD options if you’re considering it for your dog’s motion sickness.


Here are several strategies to help reduce your dog’s car sickness while traveling:

Utilize Car Safety Restraints: Regardless of whether your dog experiences car sickness, using a dog car seat, a harness with a seat belt, or a travel crate is advisable. These products can minimize sudden movements or changes in position that might trigger nausea.

Allow Your Dog to See Out the Window: Allowing your dog to see out the window can aid in coordinating their eyes and vestibular system during travel. Crack the windows slightly if possible to help equalize pressure and reduce negative effects on your dog’s vestibular system.

Avoid Feeding Before Travel: Refrain from feeding your dog a large meal just before traveling. Taking breaks during long trips benefits both human and canine passengers.

Condition Your Dog to Car Rides: Whether your dog joins your family as a puppy or as an older companion, invest time in acclimating them to car rides. For fearful dogs, this process may involve desensitization and counterconditioning to alleviate fear and anxiety related to car rides.

Start by sitting in the car with your dog for short periods without driving anywhere. Gradually introduce brief rides of less than 5 minutes and increase the duration as your dog grows accustomed to the idea that car rides are safe and enjoyable.

As more families travel with their dogs, ensuring everyone’s safety and comfort becomes increasingly important. With patience and effort, road trips can become opportunities to strengthen family bonds and broaden your dog’s experiences.

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