How to Help Dogs With Car Sickness Effectively

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Are you looking for how to help dogs with car sickness? If yes, you will be glad you stopped here.

Traveling with your dog is not usually easy. Whether you are going to the vet or just a ride around town, you can end up having a pretty stressful car ride. One reason people leave their dogs behind during car trips is, you guessed right, dog motion sickness.

Don't leave your dog behind; that's not the solution. Carry them along; the solution is to help them manage the dog car sickness. I know you, too, want to bring your dog to the park or have an easy time driving to the vet. So, how do you fix dog car sickness?

Find out below.

What Causes Dog Motion Sickness

If you experience motion sickness in your dogs, you are probably wondering what causes it. I discuss them below.

Not Fully Developed Inner Ears

what causes dog motion sickness - not fully developed inner ears

You will realize puppies and young dogs are more affected during car rides. Why is this? It's because the inner ear of the young dogs is not fully developed. If this part responsible for body balance is not fully developed, your dog will have problems during car rides. Luckily, as they grow, the inner ears will develop well, and they may outgrow motion sickness (1).

However, dogs can have ear infections or vestibular diseases in their inner ear. These trigger nausea and vomiting on the dog seat covers during the car rides.

Anxiety and Stress

For adult dogs, the most common reason for motion sickness is anxiety. If the only time you have a car ride with your dog is a ride to the veterinarian, that's a reason enough for them to develop motion sickness. Many dogs will know they may soon be receiving the injections, and they will freak out.

Sign and Symptoms of Car Sickness in Dogs

sign and symptoms of car sickness in dogs

How will you identify that your dog is getting motion sickness? Keep a keen eye on these signs and symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • whining and pacing
  • excessive drooling
  • smacking or licking lips
  • lethargy or inactivity
  • Uneasiness
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Excessive panting
  • Yawning

If your dog exhibits any of these during road trips, you need to help your dog outgrow motion sickness.

How To Help Dogs With Motion Sickness

how to help dogs with motion sickness

You don't have to leave your pet behind because of motion sickness. You can help prevent motion sickness. This way, your pet will have an easier time, and you will enjoy his or her company while hitting the road.

Here is how to prevent car sickness in dogs.

Withhold Food for 12 Hours Before Journey

Don't feed your dog shortly before you travel. Its recommended that you withhold food for 12 hours before travel (2). If the stomach is empty, you cut down on chances of nausea and vomiting, which are usually the most popular signs and symptoms of motion sickness in dogs.

Allow Your Dog To See Outside The Window

allow your dog to see outside the window

Seeing outside the window will help your dog coordinate well on what's happening. There must be a coordination between their vestibular system and their eyes. Next time you are on a road trip with your canine passengers, ensure they are well secured with their seat belts but can comfortably see the outside without pooping their head out of the windows.

Use Car Safety Restraints

use car safety restraints

Car safety restraints are the right way of containing and preventing motion sickness. You can use the restraint safety belts to control the direction the dog faces. It is usually better for them to face the outside rather than the front. However, many people opt for a travel crate, which helps contain the dog. Also, should your dog get sick, a travel crate can contain the vomit.

But, be sure to bring along dog seat covers, just in case your dog vomits or drools too much.

Keep the Car Cool and Quiet

If the ambiance in the car is agitated, your dog will be anxious and more stressed. If you have children coming in the car rides, urge them to help keep the car calm and quiet for the dog.

Also, lower the window a little. This will allow fresh air in and balance the pressure in the car with the outside air pressure. A balanced air pressure helps reduce the chances of upsetting the stomach.

Include Your Home's Scent to The Car

include your home's scent to the car

You can carry along a dog blanket with a home scent in your dog carrier or travel crate. This will help the dog feel relaxed and more at home; because of the home scent it is already used to.

You can also bring along cute dog seat covers, just to make everything even more playful for your puppy.

Have Travel Toys

have travel toys

Have toys just set aside for car rides. Having something to play with will help minimize travel anxiety. Also, this way, your dog will associate travel and fun. No dog will not cheer up to new toys.


Take Breaks During The Ride

take breaks during the ride

If you are taking long road trips, be sure to take a break after every two hours. Walk around with your dog, or have some play. A little exercise and movement out of the car will help pets kill their anxiety and regain comfort.

Conditioning Your Dog to Car Trips

conditioning your dog to car trips

Using positive reinforcement will help your dog get comfortable while traveling.

Here are some of the ways you can positively reinforce your dog for car trips:

  • Show him that car rides can be fun by taking rides to places they love, such as the park
  • Try riding in a different car from the one he is used to
  • Ensure you have only-car toys; this will make him look forward to car rides

Medication for Dog Motion Sickness

medication for dog motion sickness

Some dogs will get adapted, and outgrow motion sickness. However, some, even as they age, they will not get over travel anxiety. If your dog doesn't get over it, there is no hope lost. You can go ahead and seek a dog car sickness remedy.

You can get a natural dog car sickness remedy or dog car sickness medication that I discuss below. You can get these over the counter. However, it is always safer to talk to your veterinarian and get prescription medication for dog car sickness.

Here are possible medications to help your dog get over travel anxiety.

Anti-Nausea Medications

anti-nausea medications

Cerenia is the most popular anti-nausea medication for dog car sickness. Cerenia is prescription based. The other drugs that can help your dog with vomiting during trips include:

  • Dimenhydrinate (Gravol or Dramamine)
  • Meclizine( Bonine and Antivert)

A single dose of cerenia will help your dog manage motion sickness for up to 24 hours. Speak to your veterinarian about meclizine for dogs. These will only treat vomiting and nausea and not anxiety.

Anti- Anxiety Medications

medication for dog motion sickness anti- anxiety medications

If your pet looks stressed or generally unhappy, one of the treatment options you could explore is anti-anxiety medications. The most common anti-anxiety drug for dog car sickness is Alprazolam, which is given to too stressed dogs.

Usually, the prescription will be given to the dog the night before travel. Another dose will follow 12 hours later. Your veterinarian may recommend you give another dose two hours before the journey. Some doses may even start a week before travel. Make sure you follow the prescription recommended your veterinarian.



Ginger has been used for a long time to prevent nausea and vomiting. It is also suitable for aiding the digestion process, not just in dogs but also in humans. There are no concrete studies that show how ginger may help suppress nausea and vomiting in dogs with car sickness. However,m a lot of vets and pet owners will swear by this natural remedy. You can talk to your vet about using ginger as a dog car sickness remedy and see the direction it takes. After all, ginger is a natural remedy and should have no harmful side effects on your dog.

Your vet should guide you on dosage or even recommend ginger supplements. If you go the supplement way, make sure it does not have xylitol.


Some people have experience giving their dogs CBD to treat motion sickness. However, just like ginger, there is no concrete research showing how CBD can cure motion sickness in pets. Many people and even vets would recommend CBD. But, it may interfere with the medication your pets are on. Therefore, be sure to consult your vet before administering CBD. Over-the-counter CBD can cause more harm than benefits.


Here are some FAQs regarding dog's sickness.

How can you tell if a dog is a car sick? 

You can tell your dog is car sick if it does the following in the car:

  • Whine
  • Being restless
  • Drool
  • Lick or smack its lips often
  • Yawn repeatedly
  • Stay drowsy
  • Vomit

Stop the car if the dog gets car sick, take it out of the car and let it relieve its stress. Also, keep its medicines in the car ready for emergencies.

Do car rides tire dogs out?

Yes, car rides do tire the dogs out. They are very playful by nature, and the sight of nature outside, passing cars, and new sounds stimulate their brain to a certain level, making them tired in the end. However, it doesn't harm them but makes them more fit. In fact, car rides are mentally healthy for dogs as they find it similar to hunting which is their instinct.

Do dog car seats help with car sickness

Yes, dog car seat covers do help with car sickness to some extent. They are attached to car seats, providing a defined area for the dog to sit during the ride, so they don't slide here and there too much. They give the pet a small cozy space, allowing for a physical sense of security, thus reducing anxiety. 

Dog car seat covers also reduce car sickness by allowing the dog to look out of the window and get fresh air without the risk of falling out.

Can I give my dog Benadryl for car rides? 

Yes, you can give your dog Benadryl for car rides, as it can calm their anxiousness during the rides. It makes them drowsy, preventing motion sickness in the car. But Benadryl treats allergic reactions like sneezing and itchiness in humans. Here are some risks associated with Benedryl.

Risk #1: It can worsen the dog’s existing medical conditions like allergies, hypertension, COPD, glaucoma, seizure disorders, thyroids, or problems in the digestive system.

Risk #2: If the dog is under medication, then Benadryl can create reverse effects.

So take the following precautions to avoid any harm to the dogs.

Precaution #1: Always consult a vet before giving Benadryl to the dog.

Precaution #2: Don’t give it to a female dog if it is pregnant.

Precaution #3: Do not overdose the dog on it. 

Why is my dog shaking in the car ride? 

Your dog is shaking in the car ride because of one or more of the following reasons:

Reason #1: Motion sickness

A dog can get car sick just like humans, especially if it is a puppy. As a result, it starts whining. So keep the medicines ready and don’t feed the dog just before the journey. 

Reason #2: High sensitivity

Dogs are highly sensitive animals. They could get excited about the new surroundings by smell and sight and get restless in the car. So try to tire them before the ride so they can sleep in the car. 

Reason #3: Negative association 

Car rides could bring back some tough memories like going to the vet, grooming sessions, or leaving their mother. So they try to escape the car. If possible, associate car rides with positive memories like going to the toy store or the park. It calms their worries. 

Reason #4: New experience 

If car rides are a new experience for the dogs, they start panting and shivering, thinking it is dangerous. So train them slowly to make car rides comfortable for them. 

Reason #5: High speed

Driving the car at more than 60 miles per hour could make dogs anxious. So drive slow or at an average speed, so the dog gets habitual to speed. 

How cold is too cold for dog in car? 

Temperature below 65 degrees is too cold for a dog in the car. The dogs can bear the cold for about five minutes at these temperatures, but more than that can harm them. It can result in hypothermia or frostbite. But these temperature constraints may vary for different dog breeds and dog sizes.

For example, northern breeds like Alaskan malamutes, Siberian huskies, and Bernards can bear freezing temperatures well. However, single-coated dogs and puppies tend to get sick with hypothermia in freezing temperatures. 

So use dog car seat covers and lay them on a blanket to bring them warmth while traveling long distances in the winter. Also, don’t leave the dog unattended for too long, as temperatures inside the car can change drastically, even with the heater on. 

Can a dog suffocate in a car? 

Yes, a dog can suffocate in a car if left alone for a longer duration. It is not safe. In fact, some studies conclude dogs should never be left alone in the car for any length of time. It is because the temperature inside the car could rise during summers and decrease during winters without outside intervention. As a result, the dogs could have difficulty breathing and get sick. Parking the car in the shade with the windows open while the dogs are restrained could be a way to leave them alone. But leaving for more than five to ten minutes can cause an alarm. 

How do I treat my dogs car anxiety? 

You treat your dog’s car anxiety by training it to get used to car rides. Follow these steps: 

  • First, try to lure the dog into the parked car with some treats but don’t force it to get inside.
  • When the dog gets inside, play with the pet to make it comfortable. 
  • Continue with the first two steps for some days without turning the car on. 
  • When the dog gets comfortable, repeat the first two steps but this time with the car turned on.
  • Repeat step 4 for some days. 
  • Next, see if the dog is excited enough to get inside the car. 
  • If it is, start going for short car rides and offer them treats on the way.
  • Once it starts getting comfortable, increase the distances gradually.
  • Install dog car seat covers to keep it warm and comfortable while traveling.
  • If these steps do not work, get anxiety medications for the pet or opt for a dog training center.

How do I get my dog to stop crying in the car?

You get your dog to stop crying in the car by understanding the reason behind it and taking measures to solve the problem. Dogs may cry in the car because of two primary reasons:

  • Motion sickness
  • Car anxiety

For motion sickness, open the car’s windows and let the fresh air in when the car is in motion. Also, ensure they’re not fed just before the ride, as they might vomit after the car starts, and they, too, get in motion. If these methods don’t work, get proper medication for the dog. Besides, treating car anxiety needs special training so start with getting the dogs comfortable in the parked car and then move on to car rides gradually. 

For car anxiety, start with making the dog comfortable because they whine in the car if they feel uneasy. Let them lay on the dog seat cover or a hammock and give a blanket or their favorite toy for comfort. Next, be ready with treats whenever there’s a plan to go on a trip. Finally, dog training is the only option to treat the dog’s car anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Just like humans, your dog can have dog motion sickness. The signs and symptoms will be evident in many dogs. As you travel, watch out for these signs, especially among puppies. If you notice the signs, you can always work to make your dogs enjoy the rides. There is no good reason to leave your best friend at in the house when you can enjoy your companionship wherever you are going. Use the above tips to make your dog comfortable in their car seat. If you see no improvements, seek dog car sickness medicine.

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Take action, and watch those trips with your dog turn from scary to thrilling!






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