Ways to Help Pets with Motion Sickness

Ways to Help Pets with Motion Sickness

We’re not the only ones who experience dizziness and grogginess during car rides. Motion sickness is something that also affects both cats and dogs, making them feel unpleasant in the process. With that, you need to know the different ways to help pets with motion sickness during travels.

The main cause of motion sickness is an issue in one’s inner ear. This area connects and links to the brain stem.

The inner ear consists of parts that are vital for keeping one’s balance. When these do not function correctly or do not have adequate equilibrium, analyzing the car’s movements will be difficult. Hence, it will lead to nausea and dizziness.

In cats, fear of the vehicle itself may be a contributing factor. So even when the vehicle isn’t moving, these signs may occur.

There are times when motion sickness can be overcome. This can be done by conditioning your pets to travel. For others, medications can aid in preventing motion sickness; plus, it can decrease the instances of drooling.

Note that some of the medications for treating dogs and people’s motion sickness aren’t effective in cats. If you have felines with motion sickness, it’s best to ask their veterinarian to prescribe the right medication for them.

Before we determine the ways to help pets with motion sickness, let’s learn about the symptoms first.

Symptoms of Motion Sickness in Pets

One of the ways to help pets with motion sickness in pets is by determining the symptoms they show. Motion sickness commonly results in excessive salivation, nausea, vomiting, and other signs as well. Pets may whine, yawn, and display signs of apprehension and uneasiness, or even get diarrhea.

Motion sickness is often seen when traveling by sea, land, or air. The signs often disappear once the vehicle stops.

Motion Sickness Symptoms in Dogs

When traveling with your dog, take note of the signs they might show if they’re experiencing motion sickness.

The symptoms include pacing, whining, smacking/licking their lips, excessive drooling, inactivity, lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Motion Sickness Symptoms in Pet Cats

Some cats also get motion sickness when they travel. Their symptoms include anxiety, lip licking, heavy drooling, urination/defecation, vocalization, and subdued behavior.

Helping Dogs with Motion Sickness

For the different ways to help pets with motion sickness, let’s start off with the dogs. We’ve put together the most essential ways to help them when experiencing such issues.

Gradually Desensitize Your Dogs to the Car

If you’re traveling with a puppy, it’s vital to get them used to the car by gradually desensitizing them. The process is applicable for adult dogs displaying anxiety and restlessness in the car as well.

Desensitizing your pet is vital, especially when you’re planning for lengthy trips with them.

You can begin the process by leading your dogs to the vehicle while it stays stationary. Allow them to sniff and inspect the car to become familiar with the scent and space associated with it.

Make sure to keep the doors wide open so they can run out if they start getting anxious or fearful. If they’re calm, reward them with lots of praise or their favorite treat.

To prevent them from getting stressed, do this every couple of days without taking them for a drive. This process will hopefully allow your dogs to get more comfortable with cars and being inside them. Additionally, the process prevents them from getting extra stimulated by people or other dogs passing by.

When your dog finally gets comfortable with the car, you can attempt to strap and secure them comfortably with a harness. Or, you can let them ride on the booster seat if you have one.

Again, this should be done while the car isn’t moving. Make sure to reward them for their good behavior.

When your dog stays calm and relaxed while staying in the car, start taking them for quick and short drives. These should be no more than 5 minutes to begin with.

Do note that the entire process may take a bit of time. Plus, you shouldn’t rush or progress even before your fur buddy’s ready.

Let Them Enjoy the Fresh Air

When they’re finally going for their ride, make sure to crack open the windows to give them some fresh air. This allows your dogs to have their sniffing pleasures. It’s because the different scent carried in the wind will distract your dogs from any queasiness in their tummies.

A narrow opening on your window will allow your best friend to sniff. Plus, it prevents them from getting eye injuries due to flying objects.

In addition, make some stopovers and have your dog take quick strolls or go for potty breaks. A lot of dogs enjoy experiencing and exploring new spots with their sense of smell. Giving them potty or sniff breaks can help them associate the car with fun, adventures, and new places to explore.


Ginger for dogs may help their motion sickness since it’s a natural remedy for nausea. Ginger capsules are readily available which your dogs can use whenever necessary.

If you have puppies that are under 16 pounds, they can safely take small amounts of ginger. When they’re over 16 pounds, they can handle up to around 500mg of it.

Additionally, you can give your dogs a variety of gingersnap cookies that are dog-friendly. Eating these in the jar can be an excellent and positive association for puppies too.

However, remember that these cookies can slightly stain their fur, especially when your dog drools and munches.

Limit Your Dog’s Food Intake

Other simple ways to help pets with motion sickness is by limiting their food intake prior to traveling. Then before the trip, give your dogs a little piece of sugary candy such as jellybeans. These candies are said to decrease the sensations of nausea.

Although jellybeans are alright, never give your pets chocolates and treats with xylitol. The main reason is that these are highly toxic to dogs.

Provide Good Visibility for Your Dogs to Watch Outside

Based on observation, motion sickness in humans improves when they take the front seat. It’s because enhanced visibility and taking a forward-facing position aids in stabilizing one’s head. Overall, it’s generally linked to balance structures.

When it comes to dogs, they’re no different. If you think about it, staying in the backseat of a vehicle without any outside views can aggravate motion sickness.

With that, try to position your dogs in a spot where they can watch outside through the windows. Open the windows slightly to give them some fresh air.

To aid with visibility, you can prop your fur buddies up with a car seat. Or, try to train them to use a crate.

When you don’t have any travel crates, make sure to secure your dog using a seatbelt-attaching harness. Do note that in most states, this is a legal requirement.

Helping Cats with Motion Sickness

Desensitizing or counter-conditioning your kitties to travel may take a bit of work. However, it can be accomplished with patience.

Helping your felines overcome the anxiety and stress caused by travel means they can go with you on more trips. The reward will be getting to spend more time with your precious fur baby.

Here are the ways to help pets with motion sickness, specifically for cats.

Reduce the Stress

First, reduce your cat’s anxiety and stress associated with travel by making him/her comfortable in the carrier. You can start by teaching and showing them that the carrier is a safe place.

Do this at home to keep the environment familiar for them. Offer treats and food by placing these in the carrier. Try setting the carrier on your cat’s favorite spot to make them more comfortable going in and out of it.

Then, you can start taking them on short car rides so they can familiarize themselves with the vehicle’s motion. By gradually getting your fur baby used to travel, you can reduce their stress levels. Doing this is among the essential ways to help pets with motion sickness.

To reduce the chances of vomiting, you should avoid feeding your cats heavy meals on days preceding the trip. On the day of travel, avoid feeding your cat two hours prior to your departure.

Remember that conditioning your kitties to comfortably ride in vehicles may take a couple of days to weeks. So, make sure to progressively expose them to more challenging stimuli.

Another thing to note is that you cannot force your pets to deal with or get over their anxiety. That also applies to humans.

Make the Ride Comfortable

There are a couple of measures you can take to keep your cat from getting sick in the car. The first thing to do is set their carrier on the floor. It’s the safest space in your car and has lesser vibrations too.

You should also focus on driving smoothly and avoid making sudden brakes. Don’t play music that’s too loud, and make sure to switch on the AC or slightly open the windows.

These different yet simple measures can help your cats relax but won’t solve matters entirely when stressed by car travels.

No Food 12 Hours before the Journey

Leaving your kitties with an empty stomach before the journey will reduce motion sickness and nausea. It will also decrease their need for potty breaks that are usually unwelcome, especially during lengthy rides.

In addition, ensure to provide fresh water whenever you can. Water bottles hanging on their carrier’s door is an ideal option for a lot of pets. If your travel time is more than 6 or 8 hours, make sure to have litter for your kitties.

Add Special Toys for Trips

Giving a toy is one of the effective ways to help pets with motion sickness since it helps reduce stress.

Offer your cat a new toy that they can only play with when going on a trip. This way, you can help him/her associate travel with fun. Sometimes, having their favorite toy can also help, but a special toy might work better for your cat.

Provide Medications

If all else fails and your cat is still anxious during car travels, your veterinarian may prescribe medications. These may be antihistamine to prevent vomiting or tranquilizers.

There is a wide range of prescription -only medications that can help your pets with motion sickness, nausea, and stress. In some cases, this might be the only effective option.

However, medications can make your cat drowsy or may have other side effects. It’s best to only use this as a last resort.

There are also more natural solutions like diffusing soothing pheromones or homeopathic remedies.

Additional Tips

The best thing you can do for your furry friend is to let them experience car trips while they’re young. If possible, do this as soon as you adopt them. This way, they’ll get used to car trips and see the fun in these adventures.

When letting them inside the car, make it a fun experience. Reward them with a tasty treat, then start with short rides first.

Make them feel safe and comfortable in their carrier or crate. By doing this, you can also prevent them from rolling.

Another tip is to travel when your pet is tired and about to settle down and sleep. This technique will keep them relaxed during the trip while making things more convenient for you.

Final Words

Today, travelling with pets is becoming more convenient with the increasing holiday destinations welcoming pets. With that, more pet parents are encouraged to take their precious fur babies to beaches, parks, and more.

However, it’s still common for animals to suffer from motion sickness and vomiting. This prevents you from taking a trip and missing out on adventures with your pet.

Car sickness is not a great experience, but following these ways to help pets with motion sickness. With a little planning, patience, and focus on positive reinforcement, your furry buddy will be eager to go on adventures. Motion sickness doesn’t have to be a reason to leave your beloved fur babies behind.