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How To Tell If Your Dog Has Motion Sickness? (Vet Explains!)

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Motion Sickness? (Vet Explains!)

Does your dog vomit every time you take her on a car ride? This could be a tell-tail sign that your dog has motion sickness. While not all dogs will get sick when they are in the car and just because they get sick does not mean that they have motion sickness. These are some of the most common signs of motion sickness and what you can do to help.

Most common signs of motion sickness

  1. Vomiting
  2. Drooling
  3. Whining
  4. Smacking lips
  5. Lethargy

If your dog has any of these signs, they may suffer from motion sickness and will need to see your vet for medication to help them feel much better. There are also a few things that you can try at home to help your dog with motion sickness too.

How to tell if my dog has motion sickness

These are 5 signs that would indicate that your dog has motion sickness.

Vomiting

Most dogs who have motion sickness are very dizzy. This will cause them to vomit. Vomiting can also be a sign that there is something else wrong with your dog. If your dog continues to vomit, it would be best for your vet to see your dog to make sure that this vomiting is just caused from motion sickness.

Drooling

If your dog is very nauseated or has been vomiting, they will drool. This is one of the first signs that you will notice in your dog is that they are drooling after every car ride.  When you take your dog on a car you will commonly see that there is excessive saliva in their mouth.

While some dog breeds do drool all the time, this amount of drooling would be excessive even for those breeds that are notorious for drool.

Whining

While you may not notice vomiting or drool, your dog may have mild motion sickness and just whine every time you go for a car ride. Dogs can be uncomfortable and not settled on a car ride due to their motion sickness or dizziness causing them to whine the whole time.

The first time you take your dog for a car ride, they will need some time to get used to being in the car and riding. This can take a little time, but your dog should quickly adapt to these car trips if taken on them enough to no longer whine on the ride.

Lip Smacking

Lips smacking is often seen right before your dog starts to drool and vomit. This is your dog’s way of trying to calm their stomach and prevent them from vomiting. This is usually a good indicator that your dog is nauseated and car sick.

Lethargic

Being motion sick can make your dog lethargic. They are spending excess energy to try to prevent them from vomiting and maybe even vomiting. This all can cause your dog to feel bad and be lethargic.

Many of these are also signs of other diseases, if your dog is perfectly normal and only shows these signs after a car ride, they most likely have motion sickness. Your vet can fully examine your dog to see why they are showing the signs and start them on medication to help them feel much better.

What Can I do At Home to Help with Motion Sickness?

Many times, with mild motion sickness there are a few things that you can do to help your dog stop vomiting and stop having motion sickness. These are a few things that you can try:

Desensitizing your pet

If your pet only gets sick on car rides, take them on short car rides each day to help them adapt to riding in the car. Some dogs do best if you keep them in something that they can also see out of the car. While other dogs do best if they are in the very back of the car.

****Make sure that your dog is safely secure on all car rides either in a kennel or in a seat belt harness. *****

Give them over the counter medication

Some over-the-counter motion sickness medication that humans take can be used to help prevent and treat motion sickness in dogs.

Meclizine is the active ingredient found in Dramamine and can help your dog with motion sickness. Your dog would need 25mgs every 4 to 6 hours to help prevent and treat motion sickness.

Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa

Drive slower

Taking fast turns and driving fast can cause your dog to be more motion sick than if you drive slower and took smoother easier turns.

While traffic and certain abrupt stops cannot be prevented, try driving a little more smoothly when your dog is riding with you. These would be the same type things that you would need to do if a person who was motion sick was riding with you.

Leave your dog at home

While everyone loves to take their pets with them on trips and going to the vet cannot be 100% avoided.  You can leave your dog at home a little more. If you are going on a long car trip, consider hiring a dog sitter to come stay with your dog while your away. 

If your dog needs to see the vet, consider finding a house call vet to come to your house to see your pet. Making these simple adjustments can prevent your dog from having to get in the car and getting motion sick.

See your vet

If not matter what you do your dog still vomits on car rides and has extreme motion sickness, it may be time to see your vet. Your vet can prescribe your dog prescription medication to help with motion sickness.

Medications such as Cerenia can help prevent your dog from getting sick in the car. Other medications like Zofran may also be used to help prevent vomiting due to motion sickness.

Final Thoughts

If your dog is getting sick and vomiting while in the car, they may have motion sickness. There are some things that you can do at home to help prevent your dog from getting motion sick while sometimes your dog will need to see your vet for stronger prescription medications to help.

Your vet can also make sure that your pet is otherwise healthy and that you are not overlooking an underlying medical issue.