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Unfortunately car sickness in puppies is a common problem, but there are a few different things you can try to avoid it.

The reason puppies get sick in the car is researched and documented well. Just like children, puppies have not fully developed the structures in their inner ears needed for balance. This creates a feeling of dizziness, causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

As your puppy grows, their ears will become fully developed. Car sickness in puppies will usually fade over time, although some dogs will not outgrow it. If you have a car sick puppy and it’s been a couple of months with no changes in their symptoms, there are other ways you can treat them.

How can you tell your puppy is car sick?

There are several telltale signs your dog is experiencing car sickness. If you are able to notice the following symptoms, you may have time to stop the vehicle and bring your pup outside for some fresh air:

  • Whining
  • Trembling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Pacing in seat
  • Gagging
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea

What are tips in battling car sickness in puppies?

  • Be patient with your dog’s development – Some puppies will not complete the development of their inner ear until about one year old. Waiting for them to finish this growth can be frustrating, but one year of age is usually the longest it takes the ears to finish development.
  • Accustom your dog to car travel – Taking time to slowly accustom your puppy to car travel can make a huge difference. When the car becomes a normal part of everyday life, it can calm your dog enough to stop the sickness.
  • Deal with anxiety – Sometimes car sickness in puppies is caused by anxiety and over-excitement. If they had a traumatic first ride in the car, they may need to be re-trained accordingly to overcome their anxiety.
  • Give your puppy some air – Fresh air can help anyone who feels ill, including your pup. Roll the window down, use air conditioning to keep cool, or stop the vehicle and get out for a moment.
  • Withhold food – Some owners do not feed their dog for 12 hours before a long road trip, if absolutely necessary. An empty stomach can help with nausea. Never withhold water.
  • Give anti-nausea medications – Gravol is safe for dogs if used responsibly. The amount of Gravol must be administered by weight, so call your vet for the specific dosage just to be safe!
  • Consider other medications your puppy is taking – Is your puppy taking any medications that may cause nausea? Even worming medications or topical flea prescriptions can cause vomiting and diarrhea to a sensitive pup.

When all else fails, plan a trip to the vet.

Sometimes car sickness in puppies is caused by ear infections or other health-related problems. Your vet can determine the cause of your puppy’s illness and help. There are prescription medications used specifically for travel that are inexpensive, and the vet can also prescribe anti-anxiety medication if needed.

Your puppy will very likely outgrow their car sickness, so remain optimistic! If you need to condition your dog to love car rides again, see the article “High Value Puppy Treats” for some great examples of training rewards.

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