Petriage Clinical Insights

IMPORTANT: This article, which is provided for educational purposes only, is based on published veterinary data and decades of work with pets and pet parents. The information provided here is not designed to be comprehensive but to help you avoid the pitfalls of online misinformation and most importantly, to frame the conversation you should have with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian’s perspective may differ from what is expressed here. Always consult with your veterinarian.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness affects a large percentage of pets, especially young pets. Luckily, most of the time motion sickness improves with age. If not treated, over time it can lead to severe anxiety and fear associated with travelling in the car. 


  • Try desensitization techniques to help prevent your pet associating the car with feeling ill.
    • Let your dog sit with you in a motionless car while you listen to quiet music and read a book. Give plenty of praise and treats to your dog, and gradually work up to short trips to fun places such as the dog park.
  • You might need to give your pets some medication to help deal with motion sickness. There are a few options for both prescription and over the counter medications. Talk to your veterinarian about what will be best for your dog, and appropriate dosing. 
    • Cerenia (maropitant citrate) is the only FDA-approved prescription medication for vomiting due to motion sickness in dogs. It is highly effective but can be expensive if needed on a regular basis. 
    • Benadryl and Dramamine “original formula” contain the same antihistamine, diphenhydramine, which can be used to treat motion sickness. Drowsiness is a common side effect. When giving Benadryl or generic diphenhydramine to your dog, it is vital that it is the only active ingredient. Cold medicines which contain other drugs such as pain relievers should never be given to pets. 
    • Meclizine is an antihistamine that is available over the counter or by prescription, and it can help alleviate some symptoms associated with motion sickness. Meclizine is the active ingredient in Bonine as well as Dramamine’s “less drowsy” formula. A common side effect is drowsiness, though less so than with diphenhydramine.
    • Anti-anxiety medication can be also used together with behavior modification to help reduce the anxiety of your pet while in the car.
  • There are a few natural remedies that may or may not help your pet deal with motion sickness. There is great variability in their efficacy. 
    • Calming pheromone products can be sprayed inside the car and the travel kennel.
    • Calming supplements are available on the market including Composure, Solliquin and others. 
  • Ginger, according to some anecdotal evidence, can help reduce nausea. You should talk to your veterinarian before you give it to your pet since it can be problematic in dogs with bleeding disorders, or when given concurrently with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. 
  • Depending on the regulations in your area, CBD might be available to help reduce anxiety in your dog. However, some dogs might actually become more anxious while consuming CBD. In addition the inconsistency in quality and concentration of CBD products can make using them difficult. 
  • Lavender is a safe aromatherapy option that might help in very mild cases of motion sickness. Place a cotton ball saturated with lavender oil in the car, out of reach of your dog, a few minutes before putting the dog into the car.


  • Motion sickness could be more subtle than vomiting. Learn to recognize other symptoms of car sickness:
    • Excessive lip licking
    • Panting
    • Whining
    • Trembling and shaking
    • Listlessness 
    • Excessive drooling
    • Uneasiness
  • Don’t feed your dog a large meal before a car trip. 
  • Breaking a long trip into short segments can help your dog better deal with any nausea or anxiety they might be experiencing.
  • Using car safety restraints such as a dog car seat, dog harness with a seat belt, or a travel crate can help minimize the abrupt changes in position which promote nausea. 
  • Sometimes allowing your dog to see out of the window can help reduce the nausea associated with the car moving, making it easier for their nervous system to coordinate between the inner ears and the eyes. 
  • If you suspect your pet might be suffering from car sickness and is starting to develop anxiety related to it, do not ignore it. It is often more difficult to deal with it later on. Have a conversation with your veterinarian about the best approach to dealing with it.