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What You Need To Know About Dogs And Motion Sickness, Part One

Dog Ears dog health Dogs


We all know the iconic image of a happy dog with his face hanging out of the car window. Their tongues are lolling. Their cheeks are puffed by the wind. And the look of happiness is enviable, yet strangely satisfying. However, many dogs end up uneasy and miserable from motion sickness. It can happen in the car, on a flight, or on a boat.

Not all guardians realize their fur babies can suffer from motion sickness the way humans do. Luckily, there’s plenty we can do to help them get as comfortable as possible.

What You Need To Know About Dogs And Motion Sickness | Vet Organics

How To Recognize Whether Your Dog Is Experiencing Motion Sickness

Just like in humans, motion sickness typically shows up in dogs as nausea. However, it’s not always easy to see this because we can’t see our fur baby turning pale. And the droopy eyes and sick look on their face is easy to confuse with a dog who is just getting sleepy.

Other signs our pups might show if they are experiencing motion sickness or travel anxiety include:

  • Diarrhea on travel days and sometimes the day after
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Lots of swallowing or smacking their lips
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Panting and licking
  • Spitting up or vomiting
  • Whining or whimpering

Many dogs will display unusual behavior that is best recognized by their guardian who knows them but isn’t apparent to others. Dogs often display pain and discomfort differently from humans, making it difficult for some humans to relate to and recognize the symptoms.

What You Need To Know About Dogs And Motion Sickness | Vet Organics

Causes of Motion Sickness in Dogs

Sometimes young puppies will get motion sick because their inner ear and ability to balance, their equilibrium, hasn’t fully developed yet. As they mature, they may grow out of it.

Ear infections or inflammation can lead to difficulty in finding their equilibrium and cause motion sickness.

The cause may also be emotional or behavioral. Not everyone realizes that dogs can experience trauma related to travel that causes anxiety.

For some dogs, a car ride means they might be dropped at a shelter or a new home.

There may be a sense of abandonment tied to their car right.

If they have had bad experiences at the vet and they know car rides typically mean that’s where they are going, they may exhibit anxiety and motion sickness.

Some dogs have been in car accidents, which can develop a sense of fear of riding around in the car.

What You Need To Know About Dogs And Motion Sickness | Vet Organics

Ways To Prevent Future Car Sickness In Dogs

We can’t always know what is causing our pup’s motion sickness. But there is plenty we can do to help them feel better fast.

EcoEars is an all-natural infection-fighting formula that is strong enough to provide fast relief for dogs with an ear infection, but gentle enough to be used as a weekly ear wash to prevent future ear infections. Keeping this remedy on-hand can help to eliminate the symptoms of motion sickness if the cause is a developing ear infection.

If our pup is suffering from travel anxiety, we can build positive experiences into the transportation process. Make a point of taking Fido for several short trips to dog parks, trailheads, friend’s houses, the dog treat store, and more. This will ensure that car rides can mean many types of destinations, the vast majority of which are positive, happy places.

If it’s longer rides Rover has difficulty with, we can take many shorter rides to build up to those longer road trips. Again, make sure the majority of the rides lead to something fun and happy.

There’s more to know! Watch for Part Two, where we’ll outline the many ways guardians can reduce, eliminate, and cure motion sickness in dogs.

Further Reading:

Michelle Lievense

Michelle is a writer and ghostwriter, specializing in wellness, sustainability, and global social change. She is particularly fond of serving ethical organizations who contribute to a better life for people and animals through humane and environmentally responsible missions. At Vet Organics, Michelle uses her time as a vet tech, her academic studies in animal science and behavior, and nearly a decade working on a ranch teaching animal husbandry to write on a variety of cat and canine health topics. When she isn't writing, Michelle can be found hiking in the mountains of Colorado with her dogs or snuggled up with a good book and her cats.

What Customers Are Saying


EcoEars by Vet Organics fixed our girl's ears in the first couple of days & she was a whole new, happy dog again. THANK YOU Vet Organics!!!*

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*Results may vary based on factors such as age, size and physical condition of your pet.