Tips for Avoiding Car Sickness in Dogs

As many as one in every five dogs suffers from car sickness! If your pet is one of these unlucky pups, here are some tips to help them manage car travel more comfortably.


The classic image of a happy dog with their head hanging out of an open car window may seem like an ideal outing, but the reality for many dog owners is much different. (Plus… that’s not very safe. Please get your dog a crate or other reliable restraint for car travel.) The good news is: your dog’s car sickness isn’t forever. Every dog is different, so try different options to see what works best for your pup.

What causes motion sickness in dogs?

Surprisingly, it’s not always motion that causes car sickness.

There are two main culprits:

1. For young pups, ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed yet. This isn’t to say that all dogs will outgrow travel sickness, though many will.

2. They have been conditioned to associate car travel with something negative, such as: trips to the vet, being abandoned or dropped at a shelter, or a remembered trauma from sickness as a young pup while their ears were still developing.

Learn to recognize the signs

Vomiting isn’t the only sign of car sickness. Shaking, excessive drooling, nervous whining, excessive panting, constant lip-licking, and complete inactivity are all signs that your dog is feeling sick.

Most of the time, it’s anxiety over being in the moving car that triggers the icky feelings. For puppies whose immature ear structures are responsible for balance, a moving car does actually make them feel sick. Older dogs, however, may have some of those negative associations, or they may simply feel afraid because they haven’t been in a car before. Be patient with them—they’ll get better over time.

Eventually you’ll build your pet’s confidence enough to be able to take longer trips.