Kick Dog Car Sickness to the Curb

Hit the road with your hound without any unpleasant side effects.

Pet-friendly road trips are a fun way to bond with your pooch—unless, that is, your dog gets carsick. Car sickness hits some dogs just as it does some people. Common symptoms include excessive drooling, panting, nausea, and, unfortunately, vomiting. Except in the most severe cases, a few simple steps mitigate your dog’s car sickness, so you can go on vomit-free adventures.

First, consult your vet

Before you hit the road, take your dog in for a quick consult at the vet. Tell your vet about previous incidents of car sickness; she may be able to recommend an easy solution. For instance, my vet suggested an over-the-counter antihistamine for my dog Lucas because his carsickness was rooted in anxiety. The dose she recommended is enough to help him feel calm without knocking him out.

Secure your dog

There are a range of harnesses, car seats, and seat belts designed to keep your pup safe and secure on the road. Find what fits your dog best, and use it consistently. Be sure your dog is accustomed to the apparatus you select prior to hitting the road for your trip. Use it for short jaunts around town so that anxiety about a new harness doesn’t add to any road-trip anxiety.

Block his view

Oftentimes, car sickness is triggered by motion, which is why it’s also called motion sickness. Affix a sun screen, available just about everywhere, to the window closest to your dog’s seat belt to obscure his vision of passing cars.

Try an OTC solution

All-natural calming sprays and calming treats may help alleviate car sickness. Chewables, liquids, gel tablets, and more are available, and not all are effective for all dogs. Try several options with drives around town before your big trip to gauge effectiveness for your dog.

Play specially-composed music

Music like Through a Dog’s Ear has been designed to calm anxiety in dogs. It’s been clinically tested and proven to work even in shelter environments. CDs are available, as is a portable player called the iCalmDog, which is pre-loaded with four hours of canine-calming music. Bonus: This is a great way to soothe nervous pups in a hotel room, too.

If your dog suffers from car sickness, and you’re excited to road trip together, try one or a combination of the tricks above to see if you can alleviate the symptoms. If nothing seems to work, another trip to the vet is warranted. Your dog may need a prescription solution.

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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