How to Prevent Travel Anxiety and Car Sickness Traveling With Your Dog

If you're like me, you sometimes feel guilty leaving your dog at home while on vacation. But dealing with a dog with car sickness and travel anxiety can be more dreadful than leaving your pet at home. Travel anxiety and car sickness can ruin your trip before it even starts.

But, did you know that there are a few things you can do to stop your dog from panting when the car starts and even remain calm the entire trip? With the right techniques, you won’t have to leave your pet at home or worry about them becoming car sick.

Going on a trip with your pet is such a satisfying and fun activity. As a bonus, traveling with your dog can help you deal with your own anxiety. So if you want to travel with your pet without worrying about car sickness and travel anxiety, please read on…

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How to Prevent Travel Anxiety and Car Sickness Traveling

If you’re thinking of bringing your dog when you go camping, hiking, or fishing, you’ll naturally do everything to protect it from harm or injury—say, from a snake bite while hiking. Proper planning and adequate know-how can help a lot. For instance, if you are traveling to a destination known for snakes be sure to research information about venomous snakes to help you protect your pooch while traveling.

But before you reach your destination, you could face difficult challenges if your dog has travel anxiety and car sickness. If your pooch is the type that can’t relax while inside a moving car, you can do these techniques to make a car ride a positive experience for your pup.

Help Your Dog Feel Comfortable in Your Car

For most pets, the trip to the vet is actually the real reason why they become carsick. They could be associating your car with a visit to the vet. This is what’s referred to as classical conditioning. In the dog’s case, a car trip to the vet reminds them of the pain of injection or bitter meds, and heck, most dogs just don’t have fun in the vet’s clinic anyway.

After determining the cause of the issue and reducing future dangers, you can either use counterconditioning and desensitization to help him associate your vehicle with good things.

To desensitize your pet by doing the following:

  • Start with your vehicle packed and switched off. Simply pick up your dog and sit with it where you would like it to sit in the car. Repeat this several times while giving it some treats and praises until it becomes comfortable and sits alone.
  • After it has become comfortable, you can sit behind the wheels and give it more treats if it stays where it should be seated calmly.
  • Repeat these two steps with the car turned on, and if you notice that it's becoming nervous, you can switch the car off and give it some treats. Once your dog has calmed down, you can start the car again and, this time, leave the car on for an extended period.
  • Repeat the above step until your dog becomes comfortable with staying still with the engine turned on. Finally, you can start taking some short trips with your dog at
  • Drive at low speed until the dog gets comfortable with being in a fast-moving car.

Counter condition is the same as desensitization, but the only difference is that you'll be dealing with a dog that is already associating cars with bad things. Therefore, instead of carrying it to the car, you want to focus on rewarding your pet for moving towards the car. Don't try luring it to the vehicle using force or toys.

With time, their confidence around the car will improve, and they’ll start getting in the car. Counter conditioning takes longer than desensitization. But if you have any problem with desensitizing your dog, you may need to hire a professional trainer who’s more capable of correcting the behavior.  

Calm Your Dog

Generally, there are certain tricks and products that you can use to calm your pet while it's in the car. Unfortunately, determining which method is ideal for your pet can be a bit challenging. Thus, you should try the following tricks:

Anti-anxiety Jacket and Familiar Scent

You can provide your pet with one of your clothing or its toy to help it calm down. This can work and make the trip fun, but make sure it doesn't chew your clothing. After all, you don't want to replace anxiety with intestinal obstruction. An anti-anxiety jacket can also come in handy in this situation.

Calming Supplements

You can also talk to your vet and ask for some of the best calming supplements available. There are some effective supplements, so make sure it is safe for your dog before trying any of them. If that doesn't work, you can try some calming pheromones.

Improve the Car Environment

Some dogs feel comfortable when there is soothing music around or some fresh air. Try playing different genres of music until you find the right song. Open the window a bit but make sure your dog doesn't put its head outside.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Buckle Up the Dog

Some dogs tend to feel less anxious when secured properly in the car. So if this is the case, you can use a travel harness, carriers, and travel crate. Just make sure your dog is comfortable while the car is moving,

Try Medications for Car Sickness and Travel Anxiety

Though some of these techniques may work, you might still need to carry some medications. There are many safe medications that can help your pet relax the entire trip, but make sure you consult the vet before trying anything. Plus, anxiety medications shouldn't always be the first thing you think about when dealing with car sickness.

Remember, only your vet knows which combination works perfectly and won't react with any of the medication or supplements your dog is currently using.

Some of the most effective drugs include:

  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines can help reduce anxiety while traveling. It can reduce the likelihood of your dog getting car sick through drowsiness-inducing effects.
  • Anxiolytics: there are many anxiolytics in the market that you can try, but make sure you talk to the vet before trying any brand. These drugs can prevent anxiety, but they may end up leaving your dog with some level of sedation.
  • Sedatives: Sedatives can lower your pet's awareness levels by lowering its perception of its surroundings.

Final Verdict

So there you have it! Our top tips for preventing travel anxiety and car sickness in your pup. You can make your next road trip a breeze by following these simple guidelines. But if they don't work, you can always give him some anxiety medications. With the right preparation, you can have a fun trip with your dog.

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