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10 Traveling Tips for Dogs with Motion Sickness

Setting out on a road trip with your canine companion promises adventure, bonding, and a trunk full of memories.

However, as the wheels start turning, some dogs find themselves grappling not just with the twists and turns of the open road, but with an unwelcome hitchhiker: motion sickness.

Before we embark on our 10 essential tips, it’s crucial to acknowledge a key distinction – understanding the difference between true motion sickness and stress-induced nausea.

Motion Sickness vs. Stress-Induced Nausea

Motion sickness in dogs, much like in humans, is caused by the sensory dissonance between what the eyes see and what the inner ear senses.

The result? Nausea, dizziness, and an overall unpleasant experience.

However, it’s crucial to differentiate this from stress-induced nausea, which can manifest similarly but stems from anxiety, fear, or general discomfort associated with travel.

True motion sickness typically involves symptoms like excessive drooling, vomiting, and apathy during car rides.

On the other paw, stress-induced nausea may be accompanied by panting, pacing, and other signs of anxiety.

Recognizing these differences is pivotal in tailoring the right approach to make your dog’s journey as smooth as possible.

Now, armed with this understanding, let’s explore 10 traveling tips to ensure your dog’s road trip is a tail-wagging success, whether they’re battling motion sickness or the stress of the unknown.

1. Take It Slow

Before diving into a cross-country road trip, ease your dog into the world of travel by starting with short rides.

These initial outings allow your dog to acclimate to the motion of the vehicle gradually.

Begin with brief drives around the neighborhood or to a nearby park, offering a positive and stress-free introduction to the car

By taking it slow, you give your pup the time needed to build tolerance and reduce the likelihood of motion sickness when embarking on longer journeys.

Dog in the back of a car.
Photo by Tadeusz Lakota on Unsplash

2. Comfort is Key

Investing in a comfortable travel crate or harness is essential to ensuring your dog feels secure and supported during the ride.

Familiarize your pet with the travel space before hitting the road to transform it into a safe haven.

This cozy spot provides a sense of security, reducing anxiety associated with travel.

Whether it’s a snug harness or a well-ventilated crate, prioritize your dog’s comfort to make the entire journey a more pleasant experience for both of you.

3. Watch the Feeding Schedule

While the temptation to feed your dog right before a trip is strong, it’s essential to consider their stomachs.

Opt for a light meal a few hours before departure to prevent motion sickness.

A full stomach can contribute to discomfort, so finding the right balance is crucial.

Additionally, pack your pup’s favorite snacks for the journey; familiar treats can provide comfort and make the travel experience more enjoyable.

4. Position Matters

The way your dog is positioned during the journey can significantly impact their susceptibility to motion sickness.

Position your pup to face forward during the journey, as this minimizes the sensory dissonance that contributes to motion sickness.

Facing forward allows your dog’s visual perception to align with the direction of travel, reducing the likelihood of nausea and discomfort.

Consider investing in a quality harness or crate that allows for secure and forward-facing seating.

This simple adjustment can make a significant difference, ensuring your canine companion enjoys the scenic route without the unwelcome side effects of motion sickness.

5. Lots of Ventilation

Ventilation plays a vital role in combating motion sickness for dogs.

Cracking a window or investing in a car seat hammock for optimal airflow can significantly reduce nausea.

Fresh air not only helps with the sensory experience but also keeps the car interior well-ventilated.

This simple adjustment can make a world of difference for your dog, turning a potentially uncomfortable journey into a breezy and enjoyable adventure.

6. Keep it Familiar

Create a home away from home by bringing along your dog’s favorite toys, blankets, or even a piece of your clothing.

Familiar scents and items provide a sense of security, reducing anxiety associated with travel.

Whether it’s a cherished squeaky toy or a cozy blanket, having these familiar items on hand can transform the unfamiliar environment of a car into a comforting and reassuring space for your pet.

A dog with curly hair is left alone in the car and visible in the mirror.
Photo by Bianca Ackermann on Unsplash

7. Plan Pit Stops

Just like humans, dogs need breaks to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and get some fresh air during a road trip.

Planning regular pit stops not only addresses their physical needs but also helps prevent motion sickness.

A brief walk or play session at rest stops provides the necessary physical activity, ensuring your dog stays happy and healthy throughout the journey.

8. Distract and Delight

Keep your dog’s mind off the motion by providing engaging entertainment during the journey.

Whether it’s their favorite chew toy, an interactive puzzle, or some upbeat tunes, distractions can work wonders in alleviating anxiety and motion sickness.

Packing a variety of entertainment options ensures you have the perfect remedy to keep your pup happily occupied.

9. Consult Your Vet

If motion sickness persists, consulting your veterinarian is a wise move.

Professionals can recommend motion sickness medications or other remedies tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

Always seek guidance before introducing new medications or supplements to your pet’s routine.

A veterinarian’s expertise ensures a safe and effective solution, addressing motion sickness and allowing your dog to enjoy travel without discomfort.

10. Positive Reinforcement

Encourage positive behavior during travel by rewarding your dog with praise, treats, or extra playtime.

Creating positive associations with the journey, such as staying calm during a drive or behaving well at pit stops, reinforces good behavior.

This simple but effective form of positive reinforcement can transform the travel experience for your dog, making each trip an opportunity for joy, bonding, and the creation of lasting memories.


Embarking on a road trip with your dog should be a joyous experience for both of you.

By following these 10 traveling tips, you can help your dog overcome motion sickness and turn every journey into a tail-wagging adventure.

Remember, patience and preparation are key, so gear up, hit the road, and create memories that will last a lifetime with your canine companion. Safe travels!

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.