Can Dogs Get Carsick?

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You're on a journey in the passenger seat of a car, and you start to feel a bit uneasy. You notice that your palms are clammy, and your stomach is starting to turn and churn. Pretty soon, you may be begging for a roadside stop, or winding the window down as fast as you can. Carsickness hits many people, and it is not pleasant! It can make regular travel a huge ordeal. But do our canine companions suffer the same fate while traveling by car? Let's find out!

Can Dogs Get Carsick?

YES!

So do dogs actually get carsick? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! That being said, it's not always why you'd think. Some dogs are affected by motion sickness in the exact same way that humans are. This is caused by an issue or immaturity with the inner ear, which is responsible for balance. Puppies with inner ear problems often grow out of their car sickness as they get older. But the reason that many dogs get carsick has absolutely nothing to do with motion, it has to do with stress. Either way, many a pooch has entered a car and very shortly after, spewed their guts.

Does My Dog Have Carsickness?

Most people will know the answer to this question well, as they are scrubbing their vehicle's interior. But if you're not quite sure if your dog is nauseous during car trips, here are some signs to watch for.


Symptoms
A dog who is not feeling well is likely to be yawning an awful lot, a sure sign of uneasiness. Your dog may also begin to drool excessively, and may even start to whine or cry. Vomiting during travel is one of the most obvious signs that your pup gets carsick.


Causes

As previously mentioned, an underdeveloped or damaged inner ear can make a dog get sick from motion. A more common reason for car sickness in dogs is stress caused by anticipation. The destination can actually make your pooch so worried that he ends up barfing-- no fun for anyone!


Diagnosis

Your vet will probably be able to confirm the diagnosis just by talking to you about the incidents of illness. If an inner ear problem is suspected, your vet may recommend a physical examination or an x-ray.

If you're looking for a bit more info on how to tell if your dog gets carsick, check out this article: Motion Sickness in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Carsickness?

A dog who yacks whenever he's in the car can be a big problem! There are a few different things that you can do to potentially ease your pup's carsick tendencies.


Treatment

If your dog is ralphing from stress, try to make car rides more fun, and take him to a happy spot like a park or beach numerous times. This can help him to start associating the car with good times instead of bad. To ease the quease, put the car windows down and never travel right after your pup has eaten. Aromatic therapies like peppermint or lavender can also help your dog keep his lunch in his stomach. If all else fails, you can get a medication like Dimenhydrinate from your vet.


Recovery

For some dogs, time will cure the entire problem. As a dogs age, their inner ear becomes better at keeping the dizziness away. If your dog requires rehabilitation, this may take some patience, and more than a couple clean ups. But with some determination, you can help even the scardiest of canines learn that car travel is okay.

For stories from owners who deal with carsick pets, and to ask a real vet all of your motion sickness questions, head to Motion Sickness in Dogs.

How is Carsickness Similar in Dogs Similar and Humans?

Motion sickness has many common symptoms in both pups and peoples. These similarities include:

  • Uneasiness

  • Listlessness

  • Nausea

  • Shaking

  • Reluctance to move

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

How is Carsickness Different in Dogs and Humans?

Dogs don't always get sick in the car for the same reasons than those on two legs do, and even when they do, pooches exhibit queasiness a bit differently than their owners. Here are some differences to watch for:

  • Panting (a behavior that humans simply don't do)

  • Yawning - dogs often yawn when they are upset, unlike humans who yawn when we are tired

  • Drooling - a sick dog will likely be drooling all over the place. People, for the most part, can keep their saliva contained in their mouth when feeling under the weather.

Case Study

One pup had her owners completely distraught with her terrible carsickness. She would throw up during or right after every car trip. After consulting their vet, they decided to try medication that helps keep the nausea at bay. In addition to that, they also got a special harness for their car that would help keep their dog in one spot during travel. Eventually, they could use the harness alone to prevent their girl from woofing up her cookies.