What To Do If My Dog Gets Car Sick?

Does your dog get car sick?  Are you tired of cleaning up the vommit in your back seat?  These are two questions I was asking myself when I first brought my puppy Linus home from the animal shelter.  Lucky for us our first drive home from the shelter went quite well.  We had Linus sleeping in a small box in the back seat.  He slept the entire way…in fact he was so tired when we got home my girlfriend went to get him out of the box and initially thought he was dead.  We later found out that he was sick and needed veterinarian attention.

Linus and I didn’t go on another car ride for about another month when I started back up at school.  I didn’t want to leave him home alone while I was at class and instead drove him over to my parents house to play with their dog and get attention from my mother and father.  This is when the trouble began and might I remind you that at the time I had a new Mazda RX-8 sports car.

image by Pacdog

Does Your Dog Get Car Sick?

DAY 1

Our first drive over to my parents and about 5 minutes down the road I start to hear that deep, unsettling pre-cursor to vomit noise (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about).  Then the explosion of dog kibble, white foam, and miscellaneous other partially digested items all over my leather seats and even worse sliding down the space between the seat and the arm rest.  It was no fun to clean up and I’m sure Linus didn’t have much fun making the mess.

DAY 2

Not even thinking twice about Linus and car sickness from the day before we started our drive to our parents house when Linus started making the vomit sounds again.  Another combo of white foam and miscellaneous food particles all over my nice car.

DAY 3

I’m finally a bit wiser on day 3 and don’t feed Linus before our car ride and instead plan on feeding him at the parents house and  also put a towel in the front seat of the car in case of another accident.  Almost like clock work Linus throws up this time on a towel and no kibble just white foam.

DAY 4

I try feeding Linus at least an hour before take off thinking that his stomach may need at least a little bit of food with ample time to partially digest.  New feeding schedule same result.  Linus vomits in the towel.

DAY 5

I feed Linus several hours before our car ride, pack the customary emergency towel, and prep for take off.  No vomit on day 5, but Linus still looks unsettled the entire car ride to my parents.

What To Do If My Dog Gets Car Sick

That really happened during my first week of car rides with Linus.  I did get a good feel for when to feed him (a couple hours before driving), but more importantly he just started to get used to riding in the car.  Over the next couple weeks Linus would still have issues and probably vomited another two or three times.  Today he does great in the car, wears his seat belt in the back seat, and just relaxes during the entire trip.  We’ve taken him on 6+ hour car rides and he does just fine (we do make pit stops).

Another friend of mine had a similar experience with his little Dachshund mix puppy.  I remember taking her on a ride when she was a puppy.  I packed her in the back seat and could hear her panting.  By the time we got to our destination (about a 15 minute drive) she was foaming at the mouth and had soaked up an entire beach towel with drool and saliva.

After several weeks and rides in the car she now loves car rides and doesn’t get car sickness.  She automatically jumps in the front seat even when she’s not going on a ride.

So what do I recommend for working with your dog and car sickness?

  • I don’t recommend feeding him right before the car ride.  Try giving him a few hours to digest his food.
  • An empty stomach did not work for Linus and I.  He still gagged and all that came out was white foam.
  • Try to desensitize your dog to riding in the car by starting him out on short car rides to get him used to the motion.
  • This will probably also help your dog get used to the car quicker.  Be conscious of your driving and do your best to make it a smooth ride for your dog.  This is especially important if you have a manual transmission like me and my RX-8.

One final thought:  I’m sure some dogs will have motion sickness their entire lives and will never be comfortable riding in a car.  If this is the case you may try consulting your veterinarian for possible drugs that may help your dog and his motion sickness.

I also saw this article on Petfinder.com that talks about pets in particular cats and car sickness.

How about you?  Have you ever had issues with your dog getting car sick?  Do you have a solution for the question: What To Do If My Dog Gets Car Sick?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. says

    It sounds like motion sickness to me but the anxiety might play into it. There is a company that puts out a Homeopathic pet remedy for motion sickness as well as travel anxiety called HomeoPet. They are FDA approved and offer a money back guarantee. I don’t work for the company but a friend has tried this product for her 4 year old lab and says it works wonders.

    • says

      @Dog Help thanks for the recommendation. None of our dogs currently get sick in the car (thank goodness). However, we’re going to check out the HomeoPet website and see if this is something we may need in the future.

  2. Ivan says

    Thanks for your post it helped a lot, I have a Beagle mix puppy and had exactly the same problem you described. Just last night I took her for a 20 minute ride which went OK but I started noticing that she was salivating a lot. On the way back she threw up a lot, then she had lots of foam I’m guessing because there wa no more left in her stomach poor little thing. I will ease her into it and be more prepared next time, I assume she’s have a few more accidents, thanks again.

    • says

      @Ivan, I’m glad my post helped. It’s been quite a while now since Linus got sick in the car (about 7 years ago), but I do recall the white foam…poor guy. He does fine in the car today and has been fine for years. I’m sure over time your dog will be doing fine as well. Best of luck!

  3. christy says

    My akita mix koda is almost two and still gets sick every ride. Been using peppermint oil to try to help. Vet gave us an Rx but it was 40 dollars for 4 pills. Didn’t have much luck with Dramamine. Been waiting for him to out grow it to no luck so now we are trying frequent short trips with rewards. He seems to enjoy kiddie cones at the local drive thru. We are 3 trips with no pucking. Extreme foamy drool to.start with but then does ok

    • says

      I’m sorry to hear that Christy. Hopefully he gets better as you work on the short trips with rewards. That is probably what I would do if my pups were still having problems with car rides. Good luck with your training.

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