Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Does your dog get carsick? These 5 remedies make for a much more pleasant ride

Most dogs are excited to go for car rides. They anticipate an adventure, maybe a walk in the park or playing with friends in daycare. But for dogs who suffer from motion sickness, traveling in vehicles can be extremely stressful. They may whine, drool, yawn, vomit, or shake for the whole trip. If you live with a dog who gets carsick, you know how distressing it can be. The good news is that there are things you can do to make the ride more pleasant for you both.

What causes motion sickness in dogs?

Veterinary experts believe that puppies are the most likely to suffer from motion sickness because the structure of their inner ear used for balance hasn’t fully developed. Most dogs grow out of car sickness by their first birthday. Adult dogs who continue to get carsick often suffer from conditioned nausea, meaning they associate riding in the car with being sick because of their early life experience. For other dogs, motion sickness might be triggered by a previous traumatic experience associated with traveling in a vehicle. In an article published by the VCA Animal Hospitals group, veterinarian Tammy Hunter says this can happen if the only time a dog rides in the car is for trips to an animal hospital.

Sad dog in car.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to prevent car sickness in dogs

Make sure your dog is comfortable in the car

It’s important to adjust what your dog sees when in the car, say experts at the American Kennel Club (AKC). For example, watching the world fly by from side windows can contribute to nausea. Instead, restrain your dog in the middle of the backseat so he can see out the front window. Small dogs should be secured into raised booster seats, while larger dogs can be restrained with a harness or doggy seat belt. Playing soft classical music may help your dog relax during the trip.

Keep the temperature cool inside the car

Cracking the windows just a little will allow fresh air into the car, which can help with motion sickness. This also helps balance the air pressure inside the car with the air pressure outside, which may help reduce your dog’s nausea. During warm weather, it’s important to keep the car cool with air conditioning.

Restrict food before traveling in the car

Veterinary experts recommend withholding food for 12 hours before traveling in the car to help cut down on nausea. Be sure your dog has access to water.

Natural home remedies can help with motion sickness

There are some natural home remedies you can try to help with your dog’s motion sickness. Be sure to check with your veterinarian about the dose and frequency that would work best for your pet.

  • Ginger: In an article on PetMD, veterinarian Jennifer Grota says there’s “anecdotal evidence that ginger helps treat nausea and vomiting in dogs.” She cautions that ginger should not be given to dogs with bleeding disorders or to dogs taking anticoagulants or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Some pet parents find that feeding one or two gingersnaps before leaving on a trip helps their dogs.
  • Lavender: A safe aromatherapy for dogs, lavender can be sprayed in the car before a trip. Alternatively, Grota recommends saturating a cotton ball with lavender essential oil and placing it inside the vehicle a few minutes before leaving the house. Just be sure the cotton ball is out of your dog’s reach to avoid chewing or swallowing.
  • Dill: According to an article in Dogs Naturally magazine, dill is an effective anti-nausea herb and can help relieve a dog’s upset stomach. The article recommends making dill seed tea by adding 1 teaspoon of dill seed to 8 ounces of boiling water. Let it cool and then give 2 to 8 ounces to your dog before heading out on a car trip.
Dog in back of car with kids.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Desensitize your dog to the car

Desensitizing a dog who gets carsick due to stress takes time and patience. The AKC offers the following steps to help your dog overcome car-related anxiety:

  • Spend a few minutes sitting in the car with your dog while in the driveway. Don’t turn on the engine, just sit there playing with a favorite toy and petting and praising your dog. Repeat this for a few days or until your dog seems interested in getting into the car.
  • The next step is to start the engine while hanging out in the car with your dog. Don’t go anywhere and again repeat this for a few days until your dog seems comfortable.
  • If your dog is relaxed, you can progress by taking a spin up and down the driveway or on the road in front of your house. Keep it short and then exit the car. Continue this for a few days until your dog seems comfortable.
  • Now, you’re ready to slowly increase the distance by driving to someplace your dog enjoys like a local park or for a playdate. If he gets sick, take a step back and give him more time to build up his tolerance in the car.

If you’ve tried everything and your dog still suffers from motion sickness, a veterinarian may prescribe a calming supplement like Rescue Remedy or a motion-sickness medication such as Cerenia. With trial and error, your best friend will eventually be able to accompany you on fun adventures without feeling miserable.

Editors' Recommendations

Vera Lawlor
Vera was the pet columnist for 201 Family magazine and has contributed pet and animal welfare articles to Bone-A-Fide Mutts…
Can dogs eat oranges? Read this before feeding your pet
How to prepare oranges for dogs
Small white dog eating an orange

When you have a little furry friend by your side, it's only natural to want to share just about everything with them. Even when it's a simple gesture like letting them on your bed for a nap or sharing a bite of a snack, bonding over these little things can be some of the best moments you'll ever share together. But when it comes to dog-friendly snacks; what exactly can you share?
Many fresh fruits and veggies are great to share with your dog, but can dogs eat oranges? This acidic fruit might be a great morning pick-me-up, but it's great to double-check before handing a slice to your lip-licking furry friend. Here's what to know about dogs and oranges.

Can dogs eat oranges?

Read more
Can dogs see in the dark? Your guide to your dog’s vision
The answer to this question matters and here's why
Golden retriever on the patio at sunset

Dogs and humans are best friends. Part of the reason? Dogs have superior senses. For instance, pups' noses are 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than people's, making them worthy hunting companions and search-and-rescue team members.

Eyesight is one area where people generally have the upper hand (or paw) — or so we've thought throughout the years. To some extent, that's true. Dogs see fewer colors, and their vision isn't as sharp as ours. Can dogs see in the dark? What is "normal" vision for a dog?

Read more
Can dogs eat strawberries? Everything you need to know
Yes, you can feed strawberries to Fido. Here's how
A brown and white dog eats a strawberry off a fork

Sharing food with our dogs is one of the most fun parts of pet ownership. But animals can't always eat the same stuff as humans (and we certainly don't want to chew on their chow, either). It's important to keep a restriction list in mind when you go to get your buddy a snack from the kitchen. Pups shouldn't eat everything in our pantry, but can dogs eat strawberries? The answer is: Yes, they can and will enjoy them. We'll walk you through how to feed strawberries to dogs and what other fruits they can gnaw on.
Are strawberries toxic for dogs?
No, not at all, and in fact, many dogs love strawberries. Like so many other fruits, strawberries have a lot of nutrients and tons of water, making them a good and reasonably low-calorie snack. However, the drawback is that they're very sweet. That's probably half the reason that Fido likes them!

Because of their high sugar content, though, you should limit how many strawberries — or any berries — you give your pooch per day. The exact number you give depends on the size of your pup pup, with the littlest breeds only needing one per day. A large beastie can have as many as four, and you should scale up or down for all sizes in between.
How should I prepare strawberries for my dog?
Before passing this treat to your animal, make sure to remove the green bits, though a tiny bit of leftover leaf won't hurt. The biggest issue with this fruit is the size — strawberries are a choking hazard. If you have a little guy that takes big bites, you'll want to chop these up small first before doling them out. Lastly, remember that we're talking about fresh strawberries, not canned or jammed or anything like that.
What fruits are not good for dogs?
You should certainly make your buddy avoid all the fruits you don't eat either like red berries he might find growing in the wild. However, the biggest fruits your dog can never eat are grapes and raisins. Science hasn't quite figured out why, but these delectables don't do well for our hounds, and even just one grape can turn deadly. Lastly, stay away from the following just to be safe: green tomatoes, cherries, limes, lemons, and avocado (technically a fruit and bad for dogs in large quantities).

Read more