Dog carsickness & what you can do to help.
We tend to think that all dogs love going for car rides, but carsickness aka motion sickness is surprisingly common among dogs!
There’s nothing quite like hitting the road with your canine companion riding along, excitedly taking in all the new sights and smells. Unless that is, your dog gets carsick. But how can you tell if your dog gets carsick?
Instead of experiencing the pure joy of a nice drive, your dog might whine, drool, and vomit when in the car, making it a miserable experience for all involved and making it more likely that your pup will get left out of some adventures.
Carsickness, however, is treatable and even preventable. Here’s what you need to know when helping a carsick pup feel better & how to set your dog up for vehicular success.
What Causes Carsickness?
There are two main reasons dogs get carsick: psychological or physical, and psychological causes can actually trigger physical ones.
Signs Of Carsickness?
Carsickness often ends in vomiting, but its signs also can include the following
Some of these signs, such as excessive yawning and licking lips, are also signs of anxiety, so even if your dog isn’t vomiting, it may be telling you that they’re having trouble in the car. If you see these signs, you should try to decode and address the source of the stress. Use context clues to figure out if they’re feeling carsick: does it happen every time you’re in the car, no matter the length of the trip? Where in the car does your dog ride and how? (i.e., do they stand, sit, lie down? Where in the car are they located?)
How can I help prevent carsickness?
Luckily depending on the root cause of your dog’s carsickness, you can take a number of approaches. It’s a good idea to step back and try to determine if and why your dog has a troubled relationship with the car. And if you have a new puppy or dog, take some steps to ensure that, right off the bat, the car is associated with fun, not fear.
(Desensitization and positive socialization)
If your puppy got carsick the first couple of times you took them somewhere, they may always remember that feeling and start feeling ill before the ride even begins.
Desensitization can help break the association between the car and feeling sick. While you should definitely be including car rides in your puppy or dog’s socialization plan from the minute you bring them home, it’s never too late to start.
One of the best ways to make car rides enjoyable for a new, or anxious dog is to make the car a happy place. Start out by bringing your dog to the car and giving them treats and/or praise while they look at it. Don’t try to put them inside; simply let them look.
Once they start to associate seeing the car with a positive experience, you can build on that foundation. Put them in the (stationary) car with the door open and give them treats and/or praise and pets. Let them get out when they’re ready—don’t try to force them to stay in the car.
From there, you can continue this practice for a few minutes daily, slowly building the time they stay in the car. Eventually, you can close the door and continue administering the treats and/or praise. From there, you can practice starting the car and eventually taking short drives. It shouldn’t be long before they’re ready for road trips with their people.
(Limit Food Intake)
Avoid giving your pooch food or treats for 3-4 hours before going on a ride so they don’t have a full stomach. Less food in the digestive system means less to expel & less mess to clean.- but always make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water.
(Use A Car Seat Or Other Restraint)
In humans, looking forward and/or at a fixed point can significantly decrease feelings of carsickness. consider using a seat restraint that keeps your pup safely in place, so they can’t pace or move around in a way that will only worsen their illness (using a restraint is a good idea even for dogs who enjoy the ride).
Many dog owners sing the praises of booster seats, which both keep their pups still and facing forward and can elevate them off the car seat itself, reducing the bumpiness of the ride.
Here at Miminko, we have a few car-seat options available
designed specifically to help reduce motion sickness & make traveling
together MUCH EASIER!
*If you're not feeling a car-seat style restraint for your dog or they are already crate trained try keeping them in their crate in the car. This may help them feel more secure, less anxious, and less carsick! Plus, it’s much safer for both your pup and you in case of an accident*
(Make The Car Ride More Comfortable)
There are a few simple ways to decrease the chances of your dog’s brain going haywire when in a moving car, and they’re all relatively accessible!
*However note that - One caveat with windows down, is that for some dogs being blasted by outside air may aggravate motion sickness & some dogs may just get too excited by the sensory overload. So monitor your dog to see what they respond to.*
When all else fails, talk to your vet about medications or herbal solutions to help prevent your dog from getting carsick. However, with these tips, you and your pooch should be on your way to enjoying life on the road together.