Will My Puppy Outgrow Car Sickness?

Puppies go through many changes from birth to becoming full-fledged adult dogs, no doubt. From teething and weaning to learning new tricks and being potty-trained, they experience a lot in their short-ish time as pups.

Some of those changes can be more frustrating than others, especially when you don’t quite have any control over them. Teething is a great example, as it’s different for every pup and lasts longer for some than for others.

One of the most distressing changes, at least for new puppy owners, is car sickness, a problem that, while not exactly a genuine disease, is nevertheless concerning (and a bit gross, if I’m being honest). That got me thinking about a question I frequently hear from readers who’ve just adopted a new puppy, which is “will my puppy outgrow car sickness?”.

The answer is that, typically, a puppy will outgrow car sickness by the time they reach one year of age. However, and this is crucial, some might never outgrow car sickness. Puppies that don’t are typically afflicted with a lower threshold for anxiety, which can be exacerbated by the overwhelming stimuli they receive when riding in a car.

The good news is that, with conditioning, patience, and TLC, many puppies do get over their car sickness woes. Thankfully, though, the majority of puppies will be done with car sickness, as I mentioned, once they get to the 1-year mark, age-wise.

Now that you know, more or less, when your puppy will outgrow their car sickness, you might have more questions about this annoying condition. If so, read on. I’ve got answers to questions like how to prevent car sickness in puppies and puppy car sickness symptoms below.

Puppy Car Sickness Symptoms

There are, to be sure, several symptoms that a puppy is getting car sick. One problem, though, is that if you’re the only one in your car with your pup, it might be hard to see them, especially if they’re in the back seat in a crate. 

Still, looking out for the signs of car sickness is a must, especially if you have a pup with a high level of anxiety. Some of the telltale signs of car sickness in puppies include:

  • Excessive drooling, even more so than usual.
  • An excessive amount of whining or crying.
  • Pacing around your car incessantly while you drive.
  • Suddenly becoming lethargic and inactive, a sure sign in normally active pups.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, which, unfortunately, you might only notice after it’s happened (and your car is a sticky, stinky mess).
  • An excessive amount of smacking or licking their lips.

If you know that your pup has a hard time dealing with car rides, frequently stopping to let them get some fresh air outside the car is a good idea.

How to Prevent Car Sickness in Puppies

Just as there are several signs and symptoms of car sickness in puppies, there are several successful ways to prevent it from happening in the first place. Some are relatively simple, while others require some work to condition your pup and get them accustomed to car rides. They include:

Conditioning Your Pup

If long car trips make your puppy carsick, you should start with several short trips instead to get them conditioned (used to) car rides. To start, place them in the car and don’t go anywhere. Instead, let your pup get used to the car itself without any movement. 

Do that a few times over a few days, then take the car out for a drive around the block. Each time, go a bit further and take a little longer to go back home.

After every successful attempt at conditioning, be sure to praise your pup and give them a treat. (That’s what conditioning is, by the way.) Gradually, you’ll be able to go for short trips, and then, as they get even more used to car rides, even longer trips.

Don’t Feed them Anything for 12 Hours Before a Car Trip

Nausea in puppies is similar to nausea in humans in that a full stomach can exacerbate it. Thus, to reduce their chance of getting carsick, experts recommend you don’t give your pup anything to eat for about 12 hours before a car trip. 

Frankly, however, I think 6 hours is just fine. First, a pup needs a constant supply of food for energy. Not feeding them anything for 12 hours is a long time, at least for a puppy. Second, puppies will almost always poop out anything they eat within the next 6 hours. Even if they don’t, it will undoubtedly be out of their stomach and down in their intestines, where the chance of it causing nausea is less.

Keep Your Car Relatively Cool

Cool temperatures are best when it comes to preventing car sickness in puppies. Most pups tend to get nauseous if they get too hot. If it’s cool out, open the windows. If it’s hot, be sure to put on the A/C.

Play Soft, Relaxing Music

Soft, relaxing music at low volume is the best way to soothe a puppy with anxiety that can cause car sickness.

Give Them a New Toy at the Start of the Trip

There’s nothing better than a new toy to distract a dog from the fact that they’re riding in a car. Plus, getting a new toy is fun for pups and will create an association between car rides and fun in their little doggy brain.

Use a Doc Carrier, Crate, or Safety Harness

As it does in your home, a dog crate can make your pup feel safe and secure while they’re in the car. A safety harness is a good idea if they’re not being crate trained so that if they start to freak out, they won’t cause an accident or hurt themselves. 

Benadryl for Puppy Car Sickness

Benadryl, the human OTC medication, can safely be given to your pup to help reduce their carsickness. Experts recommend tablets or capsules, which are the easiest to give to a puppy. 

Ginger for Puppy Car Sickness

Ginger can be an excellent car sickness remedy for puppies, just as it can be for humans. Finely chopped, fresh ginger is best, mixed in with their food or concealed in a piece of wet food. About ½ a teaspoon should do the trick.

CBD for Puppy Car Sickness

CBD, which is sweeping the nation in terms of human usage, has also shown promise as an anti-nausea cure for dogs and puppies. Not only that, but it has a relaxing effect that can be great for pups with car sickness due to anxiety as CBD is a natural relaxant. 

Do Car Seats Help with Car Sickness in Puppies?

Yes, car seats can help cure puppy car sickness. Like a crate, a dog car seat gives your pup a sense of security and lowers their anxiety. Plus, it keeps them from being rolled around in your car when you turn, stop, start, and so forth. That can keep them from becoming nauseous.

Final Thoughts

“Will my puppy outgrow car sickness?” The answer to this question, as I mentioned earlier, is yes, most do grow out of their car sickness by about 12 months of age. There are some puppies, however, that may need more time. Also, some puppies will never get over their car sickness, but they’re few and far between.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog and that it answered all your questions about when your puppy will outgrow their car sickness. If you have more questions about anything else puppy-centric, please see my various other blogs on the subject. They have a dog bowl full of real-world info to help you raise your pup into a healthy, well-adjusted adult dog.