How to Overcome Motion Sickness in Dogs

Ever had your dog puke all over itself in the car? This is for you!

For most dogs it’s the greatest thing since the cookie. But a dog can get motion sickness just like people do. Fortunately, there are ways to ease or eliminate a dog’s motion sickness, including conditioning and medication. Motion sickness can be a common issue in many dogs, much to the dismay of the people who love them and want to take them for rides! Generally, dogs will often grow out of motion sickness as they age and as they are taken out for more frequent rides.

Tips to Prevent Motion Sickness

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If your dog suffers from motion sickness, take him out for frequent rides around the block and it should start to imprive. Better yet, drive him to the park and toss a few tennis balls for him so that he sees the car as a precursor to fun instead of just a transport to the vet’s or groomer’s. Some dogs never seem to get over their motion sickness and may need a little assistance to make their car rides less traumatic – for both the dog and your upholstery! For these dogs, there are a few herbs and remedies that might ease the trauma.

Motion sickness is much more common in dogs than in older dogs, presumably because the ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed in puppies. If the first few car rides of a dog’s life result in nausea, the dog may begin to equate travel with uncomfortable sensations, even after his or her balance system fully matures.

Therefore, a dog who suffers from motion sickness should be treated as soon as possible. Stress can also add to motion sickness, if a dog rides in a car only to go to the veterinarian. The negative sensations associated with travel can be more pronounced. If a dog continues to appear ill even after several car rides, the owner should consult a veterinarian regarding treatment for motion sickness.

This treatment comes at an opportune time as travelling with pets is becoming much more popular. There are increasingly more opportunities to take dogs to pet friendly destinations including popular holiday locations.

Herbs for Upset Tummies

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An upset stomach and vomiting may be eased with several herbs. Try ginger, peppermint, catnip, fennel or dill. They can be given separately or in combination.

Herbs for Anxiety

If you suspect your dog’s motion sickness is due to nervousness, try valerian as it will also calm the nervous stomach. Herbs that can act as mild sedatives include oatstraw, skullcap and passionflower. These can be given alone or in combination with the herbs mentioned above.

Giving Herbs

It’s often best to use a tincture instead of dried herbs. Dogs might not be able to digest enough of the dried herb to make it effective. The dosage depends on the dog and the application, but a general rule of thumb is:

Tincture – 12 to 20 drops per 20 pounds of body weight, twice daily (this is a good starting point)

Dried herbs – 1 tsp per 20 pounds of body weight, twice daily (you can sprinkle it on his food)

Remedies for Upset Tummies

Homeopathy is also a great option for motion sickness.

Cocculus indicus – can be given just before getting in the car and is the most popular remedy for nausea due to motion sickness. Give your dog three pellets or crush them in a spoon and drop them in some water for him to drink (or in a dropper bottle so you can administer them).

Remedies for Anxiety

Rescue Remedy – this flower essence can also be given right before getting in the car to ease your dog’s anxiety. Follow the directions on the bottle.

Argentum nitricum – this is the first remedy to consider when nausea is accompanied by nervousness and anxiety. Give your dog three pellets or crush them in a spoon and drop them in some water for him to drink (or in a dropper bottle so you can administer them).

With a little help, and a little time, your dog may soon enjoy running errands with you, instead of waiting at home.

Giving Remedies

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To give remedies, make sure you don’t touch the pellets (if you have to, that’s fine but try to pop them from the cap into your dog’s mouth – if that doesn’t work, place three pellets in a glass of water, stir with a metal spoon, then give the water to your dog in a dropper). Give the remedy before you leave and take some extras along for the ride, in case you need a second or third dose. Don’t give remedies with food.

Homeopathic dosing isn’t based on weight. Give the same dose for all size dogs.

Pills – give 3 of the larger pellets or a capful of the smaller little granular pellets

Liquid – mix the same amount of pellets in a glass of water. Give a half dropper full, regardless of your dog’s size.

Extra Treatment for Motion Sickness

To help owners prevent or treat motion sickness in dogs, veterinarians often recommend one or more of the following approaches:

Help your dog face forward while travelingby strapping him or her into the seat with a specially designed canine seatbelt.

If you buckle your dog into the front passenger seat, position the seat as far as possible from the dashboard or disable the passenger air bag, which can be hazardous to dogs.

Lower car windows a few inches to equalize the inside and outside air pressures.

Keep the vehicle cool.

Limit your dog’s food and water consumption before travel.

Give your dog a treat or two every time he or she gets into the car.

Give your dog a toy that he or she enjoys and can have only in the car.

Give your dog a one- to two-week break from car rides.

Use a different vehicle to avoid triggering your dog’s negative response to your usual vehicle.

Take short car rides to places a dog enjoys, such as the park, especially if your dog associates car rides only with trips to the veterinarian’s office.

Motion Sickness Prevention

Time and training may go a long way toward preventing motion sickness. You may need to stock up on certain medications to help calm your dog if it tends to get extremely nervous before rides in the car. Your veterinarian can suggest safe and effective drugs to ensure that travel goes smoothly each and every time.

Updated: September 21, 2017.

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