Dogs getting car sickness is very common. It happens to 1 in 4 dogs, but if this is your case, you should know that there are tricks to minimise the effects of this discomfort and make the car journey smoother, both for the dog and for you.
Now that the holidays are just around the corner, you may have already decided on your destination or have planned a few car trips. Now is the time to start putting these tips into practice, so that you and your dog are prepared for a long car journey. Because your pet needs a little training to overcome motion sickness.
Will he stop getting carsick when he’s older?
That’s the big question. And it doesn’t have a 100% certain answer. What is clear is that a puppy is more likely to get car sickness because its hearing, which is responsible for balance, is still developing and the rattling of the car affects it more directly. But… That doesn’t mean that when your dog is older he won’t get car sickness. Just like people, some adult dogs still get dizzy.
10 tips to help prevent dog motion sickness in the car
- Make him feel comfortable. Your dog is one of the family and, as such, needs his space in the car. According to DGT regulations, he cannot go unleashed, he must be tied up or in a carrier. You can tie him up with his own chain or use a special travel harness, which is usually attached to the seat belt fastener and will make him feel comfortable.
- Do not associate the car with a traumatic situation. To do this, for several days and with the car switched off, let him get in, sniff and familiarise himself with the car. Bringing some of the dog’s objects, such as a blanket or a toy, will help him make the space his own.
- Make sure he can see outside. The feeling of motion sickness is more pronounced if you can’t see the road, because you lose track of the speed and layout of the road. The same thing happens to dogs. If you can get him to see the outside, you may reduce the chances of car sickness a little.
- Get him used to it gradually. Start with short distances and monitor his progress. When you see an improvement, extend the journeys. That way, on the day of the trip, he will be more prepared to spend time in the car.
- Drive smoothly. Accelerating, braking, abrupt bumps on the steering wheel… These are situations that generate stress in dogs. If he tends to get dizzy in the car, try to drive gently.
- Don’t let him eat 3 or 4 hours before. Dogs often end up vomiting when they get dizzy. That is why it is advisable that, in the 3 or 4 hours before the car journey, he should not eat anything. Take your dog’s food with you (find out what is the best food for your dog in Picart’s nutritional search engine) and feed him when you arrive at your destination.
- Make sure he’s tired and relaxed. It is highly recommended that you take your dog for a walk before you set off on your journey. Make him run, jump, play…. If he gets tired, he will be more relaxed in the car and perhaps less dizzy. He will also take the opportunity to relieve himself and not feel like it in the car.
- Use natural methods. There are anti-stress drops that can be applied by gently massaging the pads of the paws or the outside of the ears. Act normally, if you pay attention to his whining or shout at him, you will be increasing his stress and it will be contraproductive.
- Give him some medication. Consult your vet about the different pharmacological options available to you. Anti-sickness pills are available, but it is very important that they are prescribed by a veterinary professional. Their main effects? Some induce sleep, others reduce stress and some prevent vomiting.
- Control temperature and sound. An indoor temperature of 20-22°C is the most appropriate. Because heat can cause more dizziness. Fresh air can also help to calm the dog’s stressful situation, so open the windows for a few minutes to renew the air and ventilate the environment. As for the music, don’t turn the volume up too high and choose quiet music.