Magical-Dawg loves car rides and has no problem with motion sickness. He’d drive the car if he was allowed to. He wasn't always that way. He transformed since his first ride home as a puppy when he got car sick from the motion, stress, and excitement. He shivered and shook, drooled and cried, and ultimately vomited all over the back seat. When he was a puppy, he seemed to remember the bad experience from that first time and dreaded the car as a result. Then, something magical happened, he grew out of it.
Why Puppies Get Car Sick
It’s not surprising that puppies may not like car rides. Any first experience can mean a ton of stress, fear, or excitement. Just like humans, dogs can throw up from these things. Rides that are associated with rude thermometers or needle pricks at the veterinarians can leave your scared puppy dreading anything to do with a car, even if it means vacation travel to the boarding kennel or fun car rides around town.
Another reason puppies get car sick is that they are not yet fully physically developed. Many have not fully developed their equilibrium, and, as a result, often have problems with motion sickness. Often, they outgrow this as they become more mature. The good news is that you can help train dogs to get used to the experience or in most cases, you just let nature take its course.
Tips for Calming Motion Sickness
You can ease the upset feelings and settle the puppy's tummy with a little preparation. Here are some helpful ways you can reduce the chance your puppy will get sick during first car rides.
- Relieve stress: Puppies associate sick feelings from what they anticipate will happen at the end of the ride. To change the dog's mindset, turn the car into a puppy palace of toys and treats the dog only gets near or while inside the car. Teach the dog that the car offers lots of benefits, and do this in a very gradual way. Treats and good-dog praise and admiration can go a long way.
- Timing meals: If the puppy has nothing in his tummy to vomit, he’ll be less likely to feel sick. So be sure to feed the dog several hours before you hit the road. Be sure to offer water, though, because that can help settle an iffy tummy.
- Viewing pleasures: The motion of a moving car without a view of the road can upset puppy tummies. Very tiny pups may not be able to see out the window, but when the dog is larger and able to window gaze, it can help your pup get oriented. Just ensure that the puppy is safely restrained in a safe puppy carrier or other restraint in the back seat. Loose dogs in the car run the risk of injury or death if an airbag deploys. Also, a puppy barrier or dog crate keeps your junior dog out of your lap, safeguards you from becoming a distracted driver, and also limits how much of a mess the puppy can make inside of your car.
- Breathing tips: Crack open the window for some fresh air for your puppy’s sniffing pleasure. All those fresh smells carried on the wind distract your baby dog from his iffy tummy action, and a narrow opening lets him sniff without risking eye injury from flying objects. Also, you will want to stop and let the puppy stroll around for potty breaks during car rides. Most dogs love to experience new places with their sense of smell. A potty or sniff break can help your puppy associate the car with new places and things to sniff.
- Tummy treatments: The same drug people take to fight motion sickness works in dogs, too. Dramamine is considered safe for most healthy adult dogs. Be sure to check with your vet on the proper puppy dose, though. Also, ask about a newer option called Cerenia made especially for carsick dogs. It requires a prescription from your vet and it comes in pill form or an injection.
- Natural treats: You can try offering your puppy a natural nausea remedy—ginger. You can find ginger capsules at health food stores. Puppies under 16 pounds can safely take 250 milligrams or less of ginger, while puppies over 16 pounds can usually handle up to 500 milligrams of ginger. Also, you can offer dogs several types of ginger snap cookies. Eating cookies in the car can be a great positive association for the baby dog, too. Be aware that the cookies can stain light fur, though, if he munches and drools.