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Dog car sickness

Updated on August 10, 2014

No food for pooch before traveling!


What to do if your puppy or dog gets motion sick

You are driving your cute puppy to his first vaccine appointment, and as you steer into the vet's driveway, you hear your puppy gagging and retching out his morning meal. Your poor baby must have gotten an indigestion you think and later forget about the occurrence all together. However, fast forwarding 3 weeks later, when you go back for his second set of shots the same exact things happens. It no longer seems like indigestion as you see a pattern at this point. You are very likely seeing a case of "canis vomitus automobilisticus" in other more serious words, car sickness!

No need to despair, your puppy is not very likely going to turn into a vomiting monster every time you decide to take him along. Car sickness can be treatable and many puppies outgrow this nuisance. In the meanwhile, pack your bag with towels just in case and follow the below protocol.


Your dog will not turn out to be a decent passenger overnight, but with some patience and consistency he will get there (no pun intended). The first approach in reducing car sickness is what a dog may not like: getting in a car. The avoidance method unfortunately does not work in this case.

You will need a few things to help reduce car sickness:

  • Towels and air freshener in case your puppy gets sick
  • Lots of treats
  • A friendly passenger
  • Favorite blanket or toys

VERY IMPORTANT! Do not feed your puppy the morning you are leaving, or a couple of hours prior. Empty stomach= none or less stuff to vomit~!

You cannot go far right away but must start with small trips around the block at first. Actually your very first trip would be destination nowhere. You will just have to bring your dog's favorite toys, or favorite blanket along so your puppy will have familiar scents nearby. It is a fact that stress plays a good factor in getting carsick. Many pets have learned to associate car trips with seeing the vet. Not very pleasurable indeed!

DAY 1:

Once your puppy is in the car, place the toys and blanket near him. Simply turn on the engine and have a passenger friend pet the dog and give treats if your puppy looks calm. Let your puppy play with the toys and relax. Your puppy should associate the car with something pleasurable. After a bit let the puppy out. Session done for the day.

DAY 2:

The next day, do the same, but this time you will go around the block. Praise for calm, relaxed behavior. If puppy does not vomit great, if vomits, try again another day.

DAY 3:

The following day, go farther away, perhaps 2-3 blocks. Bring your dog to the dog park or somewhere fun. Remember you are trying to associate the car with great things. Praise, give treats for calm, behavior. Should your dog get car sick again, do not give up as of yet, repeat tomorrow.

DAY 4:

Graduation day: go for a good 20 minute drive. If your dog is relaxed, and does not vomit great, your puppy may be on its way to being a happy passenger in your car. If still vomits you may want to give him a few more days or bring him to the vet for a better solution.


Your veterinarian may recommend various medications that can reduce car sickness. Below is a list of commonly prescribed medications:


Dramamine can be given pretty safely to dogs and helps reduce the nausea, drooling and vomiting associated with car sickness. However, as with any medication there may be side effects and interactions with other medications. Dogs with certain health conditions should not take Dramamine. Consult with your veterinarian for proper dosage instructions.

Common side effects are as follows: sedation, lack of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting (ironically!).


In other words Benadryl. This medication is an anti-histamine which also helps pets with motion sickness problems. It has mild sedative properties and may ease the annoying nausea and vomiting. As with any medication there may be side effects and interactions with other medications. Dogs with certain health conditions should not take Diphenydramine. Always be cautious with what you are buying. Some products look like plain Benadryl but it realty are a combination of products that be can toxic or even lethal. Consult with your veterinarian before trying over the counter medications for your dog and for proper dosage instructions.

Common side effects are as follows: drowsiness, dry mouth, lethargy.


Another common sedative prescribed for motion sickness is Acepromazine. This medication works great, it calms the dog down and also helps relieve motion sickness taking care of the two problems at once. Be aware though that as any medication it can cause side effects and follow the vet's dosage carefully. Avoid giving this mediaction to Boxers. It is best to give it an hour before or as instructed by the vet so that it is given the time to take total effect.

Side effects are: sedation, lethargy uncoordination ,low blood pressure, arrythmias, lower body temperature, excitement,

In a way or another your puppy or dog will be able to come along with you on car rides sooner or later. Of course, the first approach of letting your dog get used to the car is the best and less invasive, however, should your dog suffer from chronic car sickness the modern advances of veterinary care will allow him to be at least comfortable during your trips.

Good luck and happy, safe driving!


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    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      12 years ago

      Thank you misty! My puppy was car sick as well and luckily got used to being in the car. My cat however, never over came it , and I hated to give her Acepromazine, but it was the only way to help her out. I agree, my cat seemed to get sick the most on bumpy roads or curvy ones.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      12 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      I had a Doberman puppy that went through a phase of always being sick in the car until he got to the point he refused point blank to get into the car at all without being dragged. What we did to cure him was to firstly feed him in a stationary car, and later take him on ever increasing longer drives, but going ever so slowly around bends, and in general driving very gently. Apparently it is the "rushing around bends" that often makes dogs sick , and so causes travel phobia.

      Within a few weeks our Doby was back to travelling happily in the car.

      All advice in this hub is great!


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