How Can I Prevent Carsickness?


What is the best way to treat car sickness for dogs? We’re planning a cross country trip with our newly adopted Border Collie. He is not car saavy, and we’re trying to get him used to riding.

He’s getting better, but I don’t want him to be sick on our trip. Any ideas?

Los Angeles, CA

Carsickness is quite common in puppies, cats, and kittens. Some adult dogs also suffer from the syndrome.

In my experience, carsickness has two root causes. One is anxiety. Puppies who are not yet habituated to car travel often throw up or have diarrhea (or, best of all worlds, both) when they travel in vehicles. Cats and kittens are naturally agoraphobic and often become nervous whenever they are away from home.

True motion sickness also contributes to carsickness in pets.

It sounds like you are already working on my number one recommendation: get your pet used to the car. One patient of mine would throw up as soon as the car was started. His owners beat the problem by keeping him in the car for thirty minutes each day (naturally, they used common sense–the car was not parked in the sun!) without starting the engine. They gradually worked through starting (and immediately stopping) the engine, to backing out of the driveway and stopping, to going around the block, to going to the park, to driving across the country.

Pets that suffer from refractory carsickness may benefit from medications to prevent the syndrome. Cerenia is an anti-nausea medicine that is labeled for preventing carsickness in dogs. Diazepam (Valium) and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) also may be effective in some individuals. Medicines should be used only under the direction of a veterinarian. They also should be used only as a last resort, after habituation has failed.

For more information on carsickness, go to my website:

Photo: Buster’s only complaint is that he never gets to drive.

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