Motion sickness in dogs is a common problem. Motion or car sickness is more common in younger dogs than adults. The reason may be due to the fact that the parts of the inner ear involved in balance are not fully developed. Puppies will often “outgrow” motion sickness by the time they are about 1 year old.
Many adult dogs become anxious or even nauseous during travel due to a lack of conditioning and the overwhelming unusual stimuli associated with moving inside a vehicle. Dogs that travel only once or twice a year (typically when visiting the veterinarian) are not used to car rides and often associate the car ride with the stressful experience that follows.
This causes heightened anxiety and stress, and may result in vomiting and diarrhea. Puppies that experience traumatic or frightening first rides may also associate future travel with that stressful event. Some dogs may have medical conditions such as middle or inner ear infections or vestibular disease (disease of the vestibular apparatus, located in the inner ear) that predispose them to nausea. Others may be taking medications that can cause vomiting or diarrhea.
Helping your dog overcome the stress and anxiety of travel will mean that your pet can accompany you on trips more frequently and will allow you to spend more time together.
How can I tell if my dog is getting motion sickness?
Nauseous humans often “turn green” or pale when they feel an upset stomach approaching. Signs your dog may be experiencing motion sickness include:
- whining and pacing
- excessive drooling
- smacking or licking lips
- lethargy or inactivity
If you think your dog is going to vomit, stopping the car and taking him for a walk may help temporarily relieve his stress.