Dog Motion Sickness: Signs and Treatment

Hot summers are in the rear view mirror and it looks like a great day for a casual cruise down the highway. Fido looks eager to join the impromptu jaunt, and he even gets to sit on the front seat. Everything is well till it becomes obvious Fido doesn’t feel too hot: instead of riding with his face in the wind, he’s listless and he’s whining.

Not all dogs adapt quickly to car rides. Nor is it entirely Fido’s fault a car ride isn’t always a perfectly enjoyable experience. Instead of chalking it up to canine-isms, recognize the signs of dog motion sickness. One or more of these is a giveaway:

  • Drooling more than usual
  • Lethargy
  • Listlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Whining
  • Yawning frequently

Believe it or not, one of the best things to remedy a dog’s motion sickness is to have him buckle up like a human. A dog that sits face forward, seatbelt and all, is less likely to get queasy or agitated. If it’s a concern that Fido may not keep his lunch down, it’s probably best to have him ride in a dog-sized crate, if he fits in one. If so, there’s no guarantee he’ll face forward, but then nobody’s going to have to spring to shampoo the upholstery.

Air pressure is another thing. Don’t keep the windows shut tightly, especially if the air outside is cool enough. Crack the windows on the driver’s and passenger’s sides by a couple inches. That’s enough to circulate air throughout the vehicle, keep the pressure balanced, and tame Fido’s tendency to become nauseated.

Speaking of nausea, feeding a dog a large meal before going for a ride is asking for it. Instead of the usual, give the dog a treat to curb potential stress. It can be a sugary treat — nothing with xylitol, which is toxic to pets, but especially dogs — or something savory like a treat from a bag of antler dog chews.

Lastly, keep the ride short if Fido isn’t used to a road trip. A stop at the park works wonders. A chewy toy will also make Fido happy, especially if it’s one that somehow only gets to be enjoyed in the car. Pets associate events with situations, so if a Fido had a bad experience in a car in the past, it could take a little time to get him used to one again.

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