What can I use to help my dog that gets sick in the car when I move?


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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra - I am moving this Saturday. Harley foams and throws up in the car. How can I move her? Is there something I can give her? She is two-years-old and weighs about 100 pounds. Harley is a mix of German shepherd and Saint Bernard.

Charlotte Buzinski


Hi – thanks for your email Charlotte. You wrote that your dog gets motion sick when riding in the car and you will soon be moving. If we had more time, I'd recommend that you do some steps to expose your dog to the car and desensitize some of anxiety/motion issues. Such as you could walk to the car and when your dog behaves okay – you could give your dog a treat. Gradually, you could sit in the car without moving a few times and reward your dog when he behaves or seems calm and fine. And eventually you could move the car a few feet, then build up to short distances.

Some dogs cannot be conditioned and medication is necessary. Plus you don't have time. You could call your veterinarian to determine which drug or medication he might choose.

Commonly used medications to help reduce the nausea associated with motion sickness include diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), meclizine (Bonine®) and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine®). These medications are available without a prescription but should never be used unless specifically recommended by a veterinarian. Proper dosage and use are crucial to treating and diminishing the signs of motion sickness.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) is a commonly used medication and is dosed at about 1 mg per pound. So a 100 pound dog could be dosed at 100 mg total dose. You could try 50 mg orally at home and see how it affects your dog. Then use more if needed then you will be ready for the day of your move.

An article that might be helpful to you is Motion Sickness in Dogs (Cars, Boats and Planes).

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for PetPlace.com, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.