Travel Sickness in Dogs

Travel sickness in dogs is very common, especially in younger dogs or puppies. Although in most cases if a younger dog is suffering from travel sickness, don’t despair, they'll usually grow out of it!

If your dog is an adult and still feels a bit poorly in the car, there could be several explanations for this. A possible reason is they may have had a bad experience during one of their first car journeys as a puppy. This can create negative feelings around being in a car and often leads to them getting quite stressed when travelling - which, in turn, makes their travel sickness worse.

Another reason, which is also stress related, could be whenever they go for a ride in the car they’re taking a trip to the vets. If this is the case, have a look at one of our other blogs ‘How to keep your pet calm when visiting the vets’ for some helpful hints and tips >

What are the symptoms?

Surprisingly vomiting isn’t the only sign of travel sickness, and not all dogs who suffer from travel sickness will do this. To help you keep an eye out, here are the main signs to tell if your dog isn’t feeling too good!

  • Vomiting
  • Listlessness
  • Panting
  • Yawning
  • Lethargy
  • Chewing
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling

How can I help my dog feel better?

We'd recommend you talk to your vet in the first instance about anti-nausea medication to go alongside some of the below advice, this will help your dog to have more of a pleasant experience in the car. It will also create positive reinforcement and help to reduce the amount of anxiety they feel, which should make them less queasy!

There are many things you can do to help your dog feel better, although every dog is different so unfortunately there isn’t a one cure fits all! Some of our advice you can try is as follows:

  • It may be a good idea to try your dog in different cars or vehicles, as like us when we feel ill on a bus we can be absolutely fine in a car. Each mode of transport is different and it’s always worth experimenting with various ways of transporting your dog to see if it helps.
  • To help prevent your poorly pooch throwing up during car journeys, try not feeding them for 2-4 hours before you leave. Opening a window (not too wide though! You don’t want your dog sticking his head out!) may also help as this will help to circulate some fresh air around the car and make the environment more comfortable for your dog.
  • If their travel sickness is due to a stress response, be it a bad experience or being nervous of the vets, you'll need to work with your dog to make being in a car a positive thing. You can do this by spending a short amount of time in the car with your dog and gradually building it up. Reward your dog with lots of praise and treats, so they see it as a fun activity rather than something to be nervous of. Once your dog is happy being in the car and going for short journeys, why not take them to the beach or to the local dog park to further reinforce that going for a ride in the car can be fun!
  • To help calm your dog down you can also try using Adaptiltm, which is an artificial pheromone spray. This replicates the pheromones a mother dog releases after she’s given birth to her puppies. If you spray it around the car before travelling, it should help to calm your dog down so they don’t get as stressed during the journey.