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Traveling With Your Pet: Motion Sickness in Dogs

Categories: Dogs, Featured

Tulsa Veterinarian: motion sickness in dogs

Does your dog suffer from motion sickness while traveling?

Every dog owner in Naples knows that traveling can sometimes be stressful for both the dog and the owner especially if your dog is not used to getting inside the car and taking a ride in it. There are some instances, however, when we must take our pooches for a ride like for a visit to the vet or if we are moving to another place or we’re going out for a vacation. These instances can be made into stress and hassle-free trips if we plan our trip well and anticipate the possible problems and know what our pets need.

One of the possible problems when traveling with your dog is motion sickness. Like humans, dogs can also experience motion sickness when traveling by car, ship/boat, or airplane.


What causes motion sickness?

Motion sickness is caused by irregular and unfamiliar motion that disturbs the dog’s organs and sensory pathways of balance.  Dogs, like humans and other animals, have an organ called the vestibular apparatus.  This is located in the part of the inner ear and this is responsible for detecting motion change and helps with balance.

In puppies, the part of the inner ear that detects balance is not yet fully developed and so puppies are more likely to have motion sickness than adults and most puppies will usually outgrow this by the time they become older.

In other dogs, stress and anxiety may be a factor for the motion sickness.  This happens in dogs that have not been used to getting inside a car or in dogs that have associated traveling with traumatic experiences such visits to the vet.


How do I know my dog is suffering from motion sickness?

Signs that your dog is having motion sickness include:

  • Vomiting (emesis)
  • Nausea
  • Excessive drooling (hypersalivation)
  • Yawning
  • Inappropriate vocalization (whining, crying, yelping)
  • Signs of uneasiness or uncertainty
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Frantic activity
  • Pacing
  • Circling
  • Signs of dizziness
  • Shaking, shivering
  • Unsure footing
  • Diarrhea (loose/soft stool; inappropriate elimination in the vehicle)


What can I do if my dog has motion sickness?

If you’re dog is exhibiting signs of motion sickness, you can help relieve it by doing the following steps:

  • Lower the car windows to a few inches (to equalize the air pressure inside the car and outside)
  • Keep the vehicle cool
  • Let the dog face forward
  • Distract your dog by giving him treats or a toy
  • Stop every few minutes or hours to help the dog relax for a while

You can also have your dog checked by the vet in Naples so medications can be given to stop the vomiting or help relieve the discomfort.


What can I do to prevent my dog from having motion sickness?

The best way to deal with motion sickness is to prevent it. Ways you can prevent motion sickness include:

  • Have the dog get used to traveling

Slowly accustom your dog to traveling by taking him for a short ride to the park in Naples or to camping grounds. Your dog has to associate riding in your car as a pleasurable experience and not a bad one (e.g. visits to the vet)

  • When traveling, make sure the trip is as comfortable as possible

Keep the vehicle cool and well ventilated. Bring with you toys and treats so that he will not be bored.  Ask your children not to bother or irritate the dog.  Bring with you a dog bed or a comfortable cage (if the trip is long).  Take frequent breaks to allow your dog to relax, defecate or urinate

  • Limit your dog’s food consumption a few hours before the ride


Are there any medications I can give to my dog to prevent motion sickness?

Your veterinarian in Naples can recommend medications that your dog can take before the ride to help calm him down or prevent nausea and vomiting.  Medications that your vet can give include anti-nausea drugs (e.g. meclizine and dimenhydrinate), antihistamines (diphenhydramine), and phenothiazine tranquilizers (e.g. acepromazine).  Antihistamines have limited side effects and are short acting.  They can be used to calm the dog, reduce anxiety, promote tranquility and provide mild sedation, and reduce excessive drooling.

Phenothiazines are longer lasting than antihistamines and they provide sedation and reduce/prevent nausea and vomiting.  Phenothiazines, however, have some side effects such as confusion and possible aggression.

For tips on avoiding motion sickness and for prevention/treatment of motion sickness cases, visit your vet in Naples or set an appointment by calling (239) 353-5060.


Keyword/Tag: Naples, traveling with your dog, motion sickness in dogs.



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