Dog Motion Sickness

This page looks at the causes of motion sickness and how to use natural remedies such as herbs and aromatherapy to treat dogs suffering from this problem. It also shows you how to use positive conditioning to train your dog. The goal is to make her associate good things with getting on the car so that motion sickness caused by anxiety can be avoided.

Sleeping Dog Motion sickness is a feeling of being ill and disoriented that is associated with motion, such as in a car, a boat or an airplane.

Most dogs would die for a car ride, but for those unfortunate ones who suffer from dog motion sickness, a car ride can be a stressful event (both for the dogs and the owners!).

But what causes motion sickness in dogs?

For some puppies, they may have motion sickness because their inner ears are still developing, and so they may be particularly sensitive to motion.

For some other dogs, it may be due to anxiety or nervousness, especially when it is a first-time ride for them. Some dogs are anxious because they may have had a bad previous experience, or they just dislike the idea of being confined in a small space.

Yet other dogs may be too hyperactive so they also show symptoms of car sickness, such as excessive drooling, panting, hyperventilation, restlessness, tummy upset, and vomiting.

No matter what the causes are, it is no fun to share a car with a dog that is constantly whining, panting, and vomiting, especially if the ride is going to be 4 hours long!

Luckily, some simple herbal remedies or essential oils can be used to relieve the symptoms of dog motion sickness, so that your car-ride with your four-legged friend can be a pleasant one for both of you!

Herbs For Dog Motion Sickness

  • Ginger: Ginger has long been used in Asia to treat motion sickness symptoms such as nausea and upset stomach. If your dog suffers from car sickness, keep some ginger cookies in the car and feed her some when she gets on the car. If your dog loves cookies (who doesn't?), she will even come to associate going for a car-ride with yummy ginger cookies. She may eventually think that, "Hey! Getting on the car is not such a bad thing after all!" Alternatively, give your dog a ginger capsule (500mg) around 30 minutes before she gets in the car.
  • Peppermint: Another herb that is effective is peppermint. Prepare some peppermint tea and if your dog starts getting sick in the car, give her some of the tea.
  • Valerian: Valerian has excellent calming and soothing effects. If your dog is too nervous or excited, try to calm her down by giving her a few drops of a tincture of valerian before starting your trip.

    Other herbs with calming effects include oatstraw and chamomile.


Essential oils Are Effective Too!

Aromatherapy can also be used to settle an anxious stomach or nausea caused by car sickness. If you are interested in using essential oils with your dog, here is a useful eBook for you!

Effective Products for Dog Motion Sickness

Here are a couple of natural products that are effective in alleviating symptoms (e.g. drooling, nausea, anxiety, etc.) associated with motion sickness:

HomeoPet Travel Anxiety

This homeopathic remedy also seems to be effective in providing relief from motion sickness. It takes care of sickness, nervousness, drooling and pacing while your dog is traveling in a vehicle.

Bach Flower Essences Rescue Remedy

Many people have used Bach's Rescue Remedy (a flower essence) to calm a nervous dog with good results. My dog, Hana, loves going for a ride but she will get very nervous when she somehow figures out that we are going to visit the vet! She will start panting, hyperventilating, and of course whining. A few drops of the Rescue Remedy on her tongue before getting on the car will, however, make her calm and quiet. It's like magic! Try it on your dog next time you go for a drive with her.


Conditioning Your Dog

Besides using natural remedies to alleviate symptoms of motion sickness in dogs, conditioning is useful in helping your dog to overcome motion sickness. The basic idea is to condition your dog so that she can associate good and happy things with getting on the car and finally be relaxed and comfortable during car rides.

Here is what you can do:

  • Get in the car yourself enthusiastically and encourage your dog to jump in. Give her a lot of praise and maybe a treat when she does.
  • Sit with your dog inside the car (with the engine off), and play with her in the car. Don't forget to continue to give her praise and positive attention.
  • Repeat several times over the next few days and let your dog get used to these new surroundings.
  • Next, repeat the same thing for the next few days, but this time, run the engine. Give your dog a treat and praise her when she does not panic.
  • When your dog is totally comfortable in the car with the engine running, try backing out of the driveway and then pulling up to the house again. Remember to praise, praise, and praise!
  • Finally, try going around the block and keep going a bit further at a time until your dog is able to ride without getting sick.
  • DO NOT punish your dog for getting sick and ruining your car's upholstery!