Can Dogs and Cats Get Motion Sickness?

corgi concentrating very hard on not getting car sick

Does your dog suffer through car rides to the dog park only to feel too lousy for playtime? Does your cat howl on the train to the vet because her tummy is doing somersaults? Yep, pets can get motion sickness, too. Boats, cars, trains and buses—the same vessels that can cause motion sickness in people—could be giving your pet a nasty time. Bottom line: Travel can make pets sick. Here’s what you need to know and how to help them.

Dogs And Motion Sickness

According to Dr. Ernest Ward, DVM at VCA Hospitals, puppies under one year old are more likely to suffer from motion sickness than adult dogs. In some pups, this is caused by underdeveloped parts of the inner ear responsible for balance. After turning one, these parts are fully formed, and motion sickness typically abates. In other pups, if car rides don’t happen often, the entire experience can be disorienting and stressful, causing upset stomachs. If your dog starts swaying uneasily in the backseat, obsessively licking his lips or drooling a ton, it’s wise to pull over for a breath of fresh air. Otherwise, you could be cleaning up a mess as soon as you arrive at your destination.

Cats And Motion Sickness

Felines are actually more prone to motion sickness than dogs, according to Dr. Ward. Similar to canines, however, cats will drool and pace if they feel a bout of nausea coming on. Plus, there’s nothing like a loud cat yowl to let you know something’s up. Both animals may just vomit or have diarrhea without warning, too.

Preventing Pet Motion Sickness

You can usually train cats and dogs to get used to car rides, though as most cat owners know, training is a loose term. The more experience your pet has with the world whooshing by from their backseat perch (no riding in the front seat!), the easier it gets. Try a few short trips around the block, working up to longer excursions.

It’s also recommended to avoid feeding pets right before a trip. In fact, a solid 12 hours without food is ideal for super anxious or sensitive animals (though a few hours will do, too). Again, fresh air is also good. Let the windows down a bit or keep the air-conditioning on for a cool atmosphere.

How To Treat Pet Motion Sickness

Sometimes, natural remedies like essential oil sprays can alleviate nausea. Scents like ginger and lavender are calming and soothing, which could help if anxiety is part of your pet’s condition. Natural supplements like the BioPreparation formula from The Pet Health & Nutrition Center are also available.

Of course, we’re obsessed with Mac+Maya, which makes a calming aid supplement. This would tackle the anxiety factor of motion sickness, more so than the nausea itself.

If you’ve tried everything and your dog or cat cannot travel to and from the vet (or in any vessel) without throwing up, it might be time to try a prescription medication. The FDA-approved drug Cerenia is great for preventing vomiting in both dogs and cats.

You might even try cutting out the travel portion of a vet visit entirely, with a company like Vetted.

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Sarah Ashley

Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...
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