How to Prevent Motion Sickness in Pets

An image of a cat inside a travel carrier that is staring at a long haired chihuahua that is comfortably lying next to the carrier.

You've just started your car trip with your dog or cat when you hear a particularly disturbing sound, followed by an unmistakable odor. Motion sickness doesn't just affect humans, but can also be a problem for our animal companions. Although the easy answer to the problem is "don't take your pet for rides in the car," it's not always possible to avoid car trips. These remedies can improve your pet's comfort during car rides and will help you keep your vehicle cleaner.

What Causes Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness can occur if the eyes, nerves and inner ear, the parts of your pet's body that detect motion, become confused. When a pet rides in a car, its eyes sense movement, even though the body isn't actually moving. In some pets, this can trigger motion sickness symptoms. Motion sickness most commonly affects younger animals, although it can be a problem for animals of any age.

The problem may also occur if your pet experiences anxiety when riding in a vehicle. If the only time your pet rides in the car is to visit the veterinarian, he or she may develop a negative association with the car and experience motion sickness symptoms due to anxiety.

Signs of Motion Sickness

If you're prone to motion sickness, you probably have a lot of sympathy for your pet. Car rides are no fun when you're fighting the urge to vomit. Although vomiting is a definite sign of motion sickness in animals, it's not the only symptom. Other common symptoms include:

  • Whining
  • Frequent yawning or drooling
  • Lack of energy
  • Constant licking of lips
  • Diarrhea

How Can I Help My Pet Cope with Motion Sickness?

Try one or more of these suggestions if you would like to help your pet experience an illness-free car trip:

  • Improve the View. People and pets are more likely to become sick if they stare out a side window. Make sure your pet has a clear view out the windshield by placing him or her in the middle of the back seat. Be sure to safely restrain your furry friend with a pet harness or crate.
  • Skip a Meal. If possible, don't feed your pet for four or five hours before the car trip. Continue to offer water, but don't offer food until you arrive at your destination.
  • Turn Off the Air-Conditioning. Fresh air can help reduce motion sickness symptoms whether you're a pet a person. Roll down the windows a little and let your furry friend enjoy the breeze.
  • Stay Away from Long and Winding Roads. The more the car turns, the worse motion sickness becomes. If there is more than one way to reach your destination, choose the route that offers the straightest path.
  • Take a Break. During long trips, stop every hour or two. Give your pet plenty of time to walk around a little and drink some water before you resume the trip. If your pet was just beginning to feel a little sick, taking a break can help reduce or relieve motion sickness symptoms.
  • Turn Riding in the Car into a More Pleasant Experience. If you suspect that anxiety may be to blame for your pet's symptoms, change the way he or she views the car. Place your pet in your stationary car for five minutes, then offer a treat. Once your pet feels comfortable in the car, go for a very short ride, followed by a treat. Gradually increase the length of the car rides, always offering a treat at the end. Once your pet becomes comfortable in the car, be sure to take him or her to fun places, like dog parks or the beach.
  • Ask Your Pet's Vet About Medication. The same type of medication that people use to control motion sickness can also be helpful for pets. Don't give your pet any over-the-counter supplements or motion sickness medications without checking with the vet first. Dosage amounts will vary, and the medication may not be recommended for some pets.

Would you like to help your pet conquer motion sickness? Call us to schedule an appointment to discuss his or symptoms and treatment options.

Sources:

Vet Street: Motion Sickness in Dogs, 1/14/13

http://www.vetstreet.com/care/motion-sickness-in-dogs

Dogtime: Canine Car Sickness

http://dogtime.com/dog-health/general/20607-canine-car-sickness-what-to-do-about-it

American Kennel Club: Car Sickness in Dogs, 4/16/15

http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/car-sickness-in-dogs/

Your First Visit is FREE

Sign up now

Office Hours

Monday:

7:30am

5:30pm

Tuesday:

7:30am

5:30pm

Wednesday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Thursday:

7:30am

5:30pm

Friday:

7:30am

5:30pm

Saturday:

7:30am

12:00pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

  • "Every single person at Scott County Animal Hospital, whether it is one of the doctors, one of the techs or groomer or a front desk worker...EVERYONE treats us like family every time we have a contact with them."
    Debi E.
  • "i wish all the vets offices would do this!I think it is wonderful to advertise all our fur babies and how they are doing!"
    Penny G.
  • "The absolute best in the QC. Have always taken great care of our puppies and dogs throughout the years. Feels like family and always a warm welcome. Treat your pets with the best care like they are their own."
    VeronicaV.
  • "Very caring people. I live in Clinton and it is worth the drive to them. I have been there a handful of times and the customer service has been above and beyond. Nothing but great things to say about every experience!"
    Chandra H
  • "Excellent caring staff. If I could give them a trillion stars I would. Your fur babies are in the best hands. The most caring compassionate staff you will ever meet!"
    Lori H
  • "A huge thank you to Colene for always making Lola’s visits relaxing 💜 Lola did great with Dr. Knutson. I’m happy that I’ve finally found a place that truly cares about the well being of my fur-baby 🐶 Their whole staff is welcoming and I never have to worry about Lola’s appointments."
    Amber K
  • "SCAH has some of the most caring, compassionate and professional staff anywhere! They have treated our puppy dogs for the past 31 years and have treated each one with such kindness, knowledge and special care that we can't imagine going anywhere else. We have had some special issues with a few of our dogs and I feel like they not only did their utmost to give the best care, but also make sure that we as pet owners are part of the process. And when sadly, one of our fur babies has passed, they have given us such kindness and understanding that it makes a hard time much easier. Bless you all for your wonderful care to us and our doggies."
    Nancy N.

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics