You’re psyched to hit the road this summer, but your pup might not be so thrilled if he’s throwing up in the backseat! About 7 million dogs suffer from motion sickness, according to a recent study, but only a quarter get treated for it. Like humans, some dogs get a disconnection between what their body’s sensory and motion input systems are telling their brains, explains Jason Nicholas, president and chief medical officer at Prevention Vet. So if their eyes are telling them that they’re not moving (maybe they’re too short to see out the window, or they’re looking sideways in the car) but their inner ears are telling them that they’re moving forward, the disconnect can trigger nausea and vomiting. No need to stay home though—we’ve got tips to help motion sickness-prone pups survive the ride.
Skip a meal
Don’t feed your dog a few hours before taking a road trip, Nicholas says. You know how you shouldn’t really stuff yourself before you go on a roller coaster? It’s the same concept. Water, however, might help settle his stomach, so always have a bowl available when you’re traveling.
Make it a smooth ride
“Lots of quick stops, sudden accelerations and weaving can upset and overwhelm the vestibular center of the inner ear,” Nicholas says. So take it slow and steady, and make frequent pit stops so your pup can walk around and get plenty of fresh air.
Adjust their seating
A smaller dog can be restrained in a booster seat so he can see out the window. Opening the window a little to get fresh air and equalize the air pressure in the car can also be helpful. But Nicholas doesn’t recommend opening it far enough for your dog to stick his head out because of potential injury.
Make the car a fun place
Keep your dog’s special toys in there, and make sure the car is cool and comfortable. If he likes his crate, you can crate him so he’ll be more at ease in there. And if he’s not vomiting from his motion sickness, you can reward him with a treat whenever he gets in the car.
Take more trips
Once you’ve gotten your dog a little more comfortable in the car, hop in more often! Take shorter trips that end at places your pup loves (the dog park, a play date) to desensitize him. Often, vomiting in the car is actually due to the stress and anxiety dogs experience with car travel, rather than motion sickness itself, Nicholas says.
If all else fails, there are anti-nausea medications: Meclizine or Dramamine are over-the-counter, and Cerenia is a highly effective prescription medication for treating and preventing motion sickness in dogs. Talk with your vet for the best options for your pup.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.