How to Prevent Travel Sickness in Puppies

Travelling with your puppy can be an enjoyable experience for all involved but carsickness can quickly turn a fun trip into an uncomfortable situation.

Yes, puppies can and do get carsick, just like humans. Car-sickness, or travel-sickness/motion-sickness, can cause your puppy to feel uncomfortable and anxious and can cause them to throw up.

While some puppies may become carsick quite easily, others may never be carsick. It’s important to know your puppy, what triggers them, and what their needs as an individual are. This way, you can learn how to best travel with your puppy.

Why do Puppies Get Carsick?

Just like humans, puppies become carsick because of a disruption to the fluids in their inner ears. Puppies and children are more affected by carsickness because the ear structures which are responsible for balance are less developed than those in adults.

While the inner ear is responsible for motion sickness, carsickness can also be caused by another factor; stress. If your puppy associates car travel with vomiting then there is a good chance they may begin to vomit every time they ride in the car. This is because their mind becomes overwhelmed at the thought of travelling. For this reason, it’s important not to push your puppy before they are ready.

Lastly, if your puppy associates travel with negative situations, such as going to the vet, this may also cause them to get carsick.

How Can I Prevent My Puppy From Getting Carsick?

Preventing your puppy’s motion sickness is the first step to enjoying car rides together. Doing so will allow you to travel to new places and enjoy new things with your puppy so it should be high in your list of things to do. Below are some possible solutions to preventing motion sickness which may help with your puppy.

Start with small trips. For your puppy’s first few car trips, it’s a good idea to travel short distances so that they become accustomed to travelling with you in the car. Travel no more than 5 minutes to the local park for your first few trips. Then gradually increase the length of your drives. First ten minutes, then twenty, then an hour and so on. By this point, your puppy should be able to travel longer distances with some help from the other tips in this article.

Change your puppy’s associations with car travel. If your puppy associates car travel with vomiting and anxiety, it’s important to change these associations. Start by travelling in short trips to fun places such as parks and beaches. When getting in and out of the car, act excited and comfort your puppy. You can make your puppy’s journey more comfortable by having someone they know well sit with them in the back. When you arrive home, act as enthusiastically as you did when you arrived at the park or beach. By making car trips a fun and calm experience, you can change how your puppy feels about car travel and reduce carsickness.

Never feed your puppy before a drive. If you’ve ever had an upset stomach, you know that food generally makes you feel worse. A puppy’s stomach is much the same. For most puppies, having an empty stomach will reduce their likelihood of being car sick. Try to avoid feeding your puppy for 6-8 hours before a longer car trip. Nevertheless, some puppies may find having something in their bellies settles their stomach and prevents carsickness. This one is all about knowing your puppy.

Stop frequently on longer car trips. For most dogs, the longer that they spend in the car, the more likely they to experience carsickness. By stopping every hour or so and letting your puppy stretch their legs, use the bathroom, and breathe in fresh air, you may prevent carsickness. This process breaks longer journeys down into manageable chunks, allowing your puppy’s inner ear mechanisms to readjust.

Distract your puppy. If your puppy’s issue with carsickness is caused by negative associations with travelling, it may help to keep them distracted. Have someone your puppy trusts to sit with them and keep them distracted.  

Open the Windows. When you are travelling, your puppy will become very claustrophobic in the small space of your car. By opening your car window, you allow your puppy to breath fresh air from outside and cool themselves down. In addition, having an open window encourages your puppy to look outside. In doing so, they will be able to orient themselves using the surrounding landscape. Seeing the trees, grass, and buildings moving along with the car will help your puppy to understand the motion their experiencing and may prevent car sickness.

Use motion sickness medication. If all else fails and travelling with your puppy is a must, visit your veterinarian and seek out medication designed to reduce carsickness. Your veterinarian will often prescribe a travel sick puppy with Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate). This medication is also used by humans with motion sickness. In addition to prescribed medications, natural calmers can help with soothing travel sickness. Peppermint, ginger and chamomile scents can help to soothe your puppy and relax their anxiety. Trying different combinations of scents and oils can yield great results and be well worth it.

Place your puppy in a crate. If you don’t already use a crate for your puppy, it may be something to look into. Crate Training has many benefits for puppies, one of which is reducing carsickness. Because your puppy associates their crate with being relaxed, safe, and calm, having them in the crate during car travel may reduce their chance of being carsick. 

What are the Symptoms of Puppy Carsickness?

Being aware of your puppy’s travel needs is the most important part of preventing carsickness. That means knowing what triggers your puppy, what helps soothe them, and when they might be showing signs that they’re about to be sick.

Some of the most obvious signs that your puppy is experiencing carsickness are:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive and frequent yawning
  • Constant and incessant whining
  • Vomiting
  • Uneasiness
  • Inactivity
  • Restlessness

By preparing for potentially accidents and knowing your puppy, you can help reduce carsickness in your puppy. Try the tips in this article to make travelling with your puppy an enjoyable experience for everyone.

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