Car sickness in pets

Car sickness is a very common issue for many pets. Usually puppies are the most affected, but in some animals it can be an issue for most of their life.

Pets are part of our families, no one should have to avoid taking their dog on a trip because it often gets sick.  Luckily, there are a number of ways to tackle the issue.

Travel sickness is caused by a numbers of factors. The most common are stress, anxiety and uncontrolled movement in the car. Early signs include increased salivation, panting, swallowing and restlessness and the end result is vomiting - an unpleasant experience for both the dog and the owner.

Reduce stress and anxiety

It is always important to make your pet’s trip is as comfortable as possible. This starts by trying to reduce stress and anxiety. Every time your pet has a stressful journey they will remember it for next time, increasing their chances of getting car sick.

Firstly, we want to make your pet feel like getting in the car is a good thing. This can start at home by putting your pet in the car with the doors open but not driving anywhere. Let them sit in the car for a while, play with a toy and feel like it is a happy experience. Opening all the doors will help reduce stress by making it feel very open.

Once your pet seems happy to be in the car try closing all the doors and turning the engine on, without going anywhere. Let your pet get used to the engine sounds and being in an enclosed car. The next step is short trips (to the end or the street or around the block). Don’t try too much at once, this should be a gradual process to ensure your pet is comfortable and stress free.

Tackle motion sickness

Another thing that may help your pet's motion sickness is to lower your car windows a couple of inches while the car is moving. This helps balance the air pressure inside the car with the air pressure outside, which may help reduce your pet's nausea and discomfort. Also, be sure to keep the car cool and well ventilated, as a hot or stuffy vehicle can contribute to unpleasant sensations for your pet.

A few other tips

If you know your dog is prone to car sickness, don’t feed them 2 hours prior to travel to ensure they have an empty stomach on the journey. Also take regular breaks if the car journey is going to be a long one. Finally, make sure they can see out at the passing scenery to help reduce the effect of motion sickness.

Remember a car journey should be a pleasant experience for you and your pet.


If all else fails there are also veterinary tablets available to help reduce nausea. These can be very effective but should be used when other methods have failed.