How to Handle Car Sickness in Dogs (A Not-So-Fine Mess)

You and your dog are on a drive. Suddenly, you notice he’s not looking to hot. Right when you start giving him words of assurance, he barfs his breakfast all over your car’s upholstery. His motion sickness struck again. But is it something you have to live with?

What Causes Your Dog to Get Carsick?

Puppies tend to succumb to the displeasure of carsickness more than older dogs, and there is a sound scientific reason for this. Specifically, a puppy’s ear structure isn’t fully developed, which means their sense of balance hasn’t completely been stabilized. If you have a young dog that has a tendency to vomit when the car is in motion, don’t fret - he may grow out of this tendency.

If a dog doesn’t outgrow this tendency - and they typically will at about 1 year of age - it could be a sign of a medical condition. Not surprisingly, a healthy chunk of these conditions correlates with issues about an inner-ear or middle-ear issue. Sometimes, the sickness could be something that is a side effect associated with a medication that they may be taking.

In some cases, a dog's sense of equilibrium - or lack thereof - is not the reason he tends to vomit. It could be that your pooch suffers from a type of car-related anxiety. The root of such anxiety could be rather eclectic as it could trigger thoughts of a traumatic experience or life event that involved getting into a vehicle.

How Can I Tell if My Dog is Getting Carsick?

Why do dogs get car sick

Your dog can’t use words to tell you he’s about ready to vomit. His face won’t “turn green” either like us humans. However, he will give you other indicators that send up clear signals that trouble may be brewing.

For instance, you’ll want to keep an eye out for dramatic shifts in behavior compared to how he acted before he hopped in the car. This could manifest itself in active behaviors such as excessive pacing or whining. Conversely, it could also be demonstrated by inactivity or general lethargy.

Unusual or unexpected behaviors concerning your dog’s mouth could also be an indication that something bad is about to go down. Excessive drooling can be a somewhat obvious sign of how he's feeling while other signs may be a bit more subtle in nature. For instance, an increase in yawning or panting could also be interpreted as a warning sign.

What Can I Do To Help My Little Buddy Out?

The messy nature of carsickness may make you desperate to help find a solution. Fortunately, there are a few things tactics you can deploy to help you and your buddy overcome this issue. Doing so requires a little bit of patience, a lot of love, and a trip or two to your friendly local veterinarian.

We Tried These Tactics, and He’s Still Throwing Up. Now What?

While conditioning practices such as taking short trips in the car and driving in the car more frequently than a bi-annual trip to the vet every year could help, there may be some dogs where these tactics do not curb the unpleasantness. These could be indicators that something bigger going on; something that may go beyond the realm of the dog not being used to motion. In this instance, make sure you schedule an appointment with your vet right away.

Paying a visit to a behavioral therapist may also be recommended in some cases. These therapies are designed to help dogs overcome traumatic events in which a car was involved, such as being separated from his litter prematurely or a developed association with going to a vet for painful shots. Helping your pooch unlock and deal with these issues could be the solution that provides him relief.

He’s Worth All The Effort!

Obviously, cleaning up your dog’s car sickness problem will help prevent your vehicle from having that less than delightful dog vomit smell. More importantly, you’ll be working toward helping your pooch overcome something that can be rather difficult for him to deal with. At the end of this process, he’ll be just as happy about the way things turn out as you will be.

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