Car Sickness In Dogs

Car sickness, or motion sickness in dogs, is relatively common. And, it’s more common in younger dogs than adult dogs. The reason is thought to be due to inner ear development. The inner ear plays a large role in motion and balance. Parts of the inner ear aren’t fully developed in puppies, but rather develop as the puppy ages. Puppies will often outgrow motion sickness at around one year old.

There are still cases where adult dogs may become nauseous or anxious during a car ride. That can be due to the lack of conditioning (lack of experience in a vehicle), trauma, or overwhelming stimuli (sounds, movement, sights). Dogs, for example, who travel only a few times per year to the veterinarian or groomer are more likely to experience car sickness than dogs who are known to go everywhere with their families.

Increased anxiety and stress may also result in ‘feeling sick’ from a car ride. Helping resolve these issues can make their lives (and yours) much easier and allow you to spend more time together as a family.

Symptoms of Motion Sickness

It’s easy for us to say “I don’t feel well,” but our dogs don’t exactly have that same option. Signs your dog may be experiencing motion sickness include:

  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pacing
  • Excessive licking
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea

If you notice any of these signs on your car ride, stopping momentarily to allow your dog to step on solid ground may reduce the symptoms associated with motion sickness.


Desensitizing your dog, or counter-conditioning may take some time. Some dogs are able to become accustomed to new experiences better than others. It may take one car ride for one dog whereas it will take months of car rides for others. 

You should begin by taking short trips like a ride to the local grocery store. For dogs who are extremely fearful, you may even want to start by simply placing your dog in the car, turning the car on, and sitting for a few minutes while not going anywhere. Then, let her out, and try again the next day. Once she is comfortable with this part, you can try backing out and back into the driveway. It’s important to praise your dog during this process. This will allow her to feel safer and correlate car rides with positivity. 

Once your dog is comfortable leaving the driveway, you can try your first trip to the store (if this isn’t where you started). Then, gradually increase the duration of the car ride. Being sure your emotions are in balance prior to attempting this feat is critical; she can feel when you are upset, nervous, happy, etc.

Additional Tips

There are a few additional tips we can discuss briefly including:

  • Withholding food for a short period of time: If your dog is one who begins vomiting prior to a car ride, not providing significant amounts of food in the hours coming up to the car ride can be extremely helpful. An empty stomach may reduce the feelings of nausea while on the ride.
  • Dog Safety Carrier: There are safety carriers available for dogs to sit in on car rides. Sometimes, this is all your dog needs to feel more comfortable. 
  • The smell of home: Dogs with anxiety often feel much better with something that smells like home. Home is their comfort. Bringing along a blanket or sweater that smells like their home can prove helpful.

Administering CBD Before a Ride

CBD has been proven helpful with reducing feelings of anxiety. Reducing your dog’s anxiety both regarding the car ride and during the car ride can significantly help with their phobia. 

For dogs with past traumatic experiences, CBD can help reduce the feelings from past trauma and reduce your dog’s fears with car rides. CBD has also been found to have anti-nausea effects, especially when it comes to motion sickness

The CALM CBD tincture is designed to reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear. In addition to full-spectrum CBD, the CALM tincture also contains lavender essential oils for added benefit.

One of the customers, Kristie B., at CBD Dog Health stated “I bought CALM because my dog gets SO anxious when getting groomed.  He shakes the entire car ride there and the entire time he is on the grooming table.  A few years ago he got so anxious while at groomers that he actually had a seizure on three different occasions.  He has never had seizures at any other time.  I hated seeing him so anxious so I ordered the CALM tincture hoping it would help.  It worked GREAT and helped him TREMENDOUSLY!!!  On the way to the groomer, he was calm and even laid down in the car.  He didn’t shake at all on the grooming table and was relaxed!  I am SO very thankful that I tried this for my boy.  I definitely recommend it to other pet owners who have anxious dogs.”

Final Thoughts

Dogs who are afraid of car rides, or who experience motion sickness, aren’t “doomed” to never go anywhere again. It will take some work, some patience, and perhaps a little help from CBD to get her on track to being comfortable along the ride. Keep in mind, with consistency, she will reach the car ride goal. Perhaps even to the extent of being able to go on long trips together.

Angela Ardolino 

Angela Ardolino Schnauzer Odie

Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of  Beautify the Beast a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time that she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association, and has trained hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit for more information.