Goldendoodle riding in a car

Tips to prevent motion sickness in dogs and cats

Team Walmart Pets

May 27, 2021


min read

Traveling with your pets in cars can be wonderful… as long as you're lucky enough to have a dog or cat that likes to travel! Many pets who travel often face common problems like motion sickness and anxiety. Often, the anxiety can actually be a result of motion sickness even if the pet does not show other signs of nausea.

Luckily for you, there are lots of things you can do to make your dog or cat’s next trip in the car happy, healthy, and safe. 

Tips on traveling with pets in the car

Easy riding 

If the only time you travel with your pets in the cars is to go to the vet’s office, no wonder they’re upset! If you don’t usually drive around with your pet and are planning a long trip in the near future, it’s a good idea to take a few short trips in the car to pleasant destinations (i.e., a park, the shore, a playmate’s home) or even just around the block with a treat at the end of the journey. That way your best friend will start associating the car trips with fun, rather than a scary trip to the vet.

Comfortable riding 

The answer is simple: protect your pet passengers the same way that you do your human riders. Buckle them up! Pet car seat carriers are a great means to buckle them in. You can use mobile pet beds, Sleepypods and many others. 

Crack a window

Fresh air can help to alleviate motion sickness some pets develop while traveling in the car. But make sure you just crack the window — just give enough space to let the air flow freely. Opening the window too far can make overly anxious pets take a leap for freedom.

Feed your pet 3-4 hours before the trip

Some pets get an upset stomach in the car. It’s best to avoid this problem by feeding about four hours before the trip. That way, your pet isn’t starving, but also doesn’t have a full belly, and lessens the risk of them getting sick in the car.

Make sure your pet has identification 

No, not because they are going to be driving, but just in case something happens. A good tip to keep in mind is “expect the best and plan for the worst.” There’s a good chance your trip with your pet is going to go smoothly. However, take absolutely no chances when it comes to your pet getting lost on the journey. Make certain your pet is microchipped and wearing an ID tag.

Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car! 

Just don’t. It gets too hot, too fast and too much can go wrong!

Medications for travel anxiety

While medications should always be the last resort, there are several different types that can help reduce their motion sickness and travel anxiety. Antihistamines and antiemetics are helpful. For extreme cases, tranquilizers and sedatives could work.

Cats can be particularly averse to riding in cars. If that's the case with your kitty, ask your vet about medicine to calm cats for travel.

As with all medication, you should NOT give anything to your pet without consulting your vet first. Your vet can give you guidelines on the dosage amount as well as if and how often your pet needs the meds.

Traveling With Pets

Pet Health

Car Safety

Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash