Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
Are you looking for ways to alleviate travel sickness in your dog? Before reaching for over-the-counter drugs, consider trying natural herb remedies first. Not only do these remedies offer the same benefits as traditional travel sickness medications for dogs, but they also have a lower risk of causing unwanted side effects such as the dry mouth and excessive drowsiness.
What Triggers Travel Sickness in dogs?
Before we delve into natural herbal remedies that can help alleviate motion sickness in dogs, it’s important to understand what causes this condition.
Motion sickness is caused by stimulation of the inner ear’s vestibular system, which is connected to the brain stem’s emetic center and is responsible for the balance.
Fear, anxiety, or a previous traumatic experience in a vehicle may also trigger motion sickness in dogs. Normally, these dogs benefit from behavioral modification to eliminate fear.
If your dog experiences travel sickness, it can make traveling a stressful experience for both you and your pet. However, there are natural remedies that can help alleviate these symptoms and make car travel more enjoyable for your pup.
Natural Herb Remedy #1: Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
Slippery elm powder, derived from the inner bark of the slippery elm tree, has been used in traditional human medicine for its high mucilage content. This substance forms a gel-like consistency when mixed with water, which makes it a great stomach.
While there are no known studies on the use of slippery elm powder in animals and only a limited number of studies in humans, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can effectively treat stomach upset and inflammation. This may be due to its ability to coat surfaces and its antioxidant properties.
Although further research is needed to confirm its effectiveness, slippery elm powder may be a natural and safe option to help ease dog car sickness. As always, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian before giving your dog any new supplement or medication.
- 3/4 teaspoon slippery elm powder
- 1/cup cold water
- Mix the slippery elm powder with the cold water. Whip them together until no clumps remain.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer on low heat while stirring continuously.
- Allow it to simmer for another 1–2 minutes or until the mixture has a syrup consistency.
- Let it cool down before use. You can store this antitravel sickness syrup for dogs in the fridge for up to 7 days.
- Give half a teaspoon of syrup (2.5 to 5 ml) per 15 pounds of your dog’s body weight. If you use a slippery elm capsule, administer 1/2 of it while following the same body weight guideline.
- Both forms of the slippery elm can be mixed into your dog’s food and water. Offer this natural herb remedy to your dog up to 4 times a day.
- Aim to feed it to him 30–60 minutes with or just after meals so that the mucilage can properly coat his stomach.
- Creates a protective coating inside the stomach
- Alleviates persistent canine inflammatory bowel problems like ulcers and colitis.
- Be meticulous when choosing slippery elm for your dog. It should have a light grayish-tan color and a mildly sweet taste. Avoid dark, slippery elms that taste bitter since they are not fresh.
- Slippery elm is an endangered plant species in America. So always check the label of the product before purchase. It should state that the plant is ethically and sustainably grown and harvested.
- The slippery elm’s slimy mucilage may slow down the absorption of other medications. Any drugs should be administered 1–2 hours before this natural herb remedy is given to medicated dogs.
- There is a lack of studies about the slippery elm’s potential side effects on dogs. Avoid using it on pregnant dogs for safety precautions.
- Always follow the dosage recommendations provided by your veterinarian, and make sure to follow any specific instructions they give you.
Natural Herb Remedy #2: Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has long been recognized as an herbal remedy for human motion sickness, and it turns out that dogs can benefit from this herb as well. Although research on ginger’s effectiveness in treating motion sickness in dogs is limited, it has shown promising stomach-soothing qualities.
Ginger produces compounds called gingerol and shogaol, which have been found to prevent nausea from worsening. A human study found that ginger was just as effective as the commonly prescribed drug dimenhydrinate for alleviating motion sickness and nausea but with fewer side effects.
Given its long history of use as a traditional medicine, ginger is worth further clinical evaluation as an antiemetic for car motion sickness in dogs. It’s worth noting that feeding your dog a small amount of ginger can help relieve gastrointestinal discomfort associated with long car rides. So if your dog gets car sick, ginger may be a natural and safe remedy to consider.
- Dogs can be fed 1/16 of a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger per pound of body weight. Small breeds should not have over 1/4 of a teaspoon.
On the other hand, large breeds can have up to 3/4 of a teaspoon. Feed ginger to your canine companion at least 30 minutes before the car ride.
- If you have ginger essential oil, it can also be handy for antitravel sickness aromatherapy in dogs.
- Just soak a cotton ball with 3 drops of ginger essential oil and dilute it with 4 drops of carrier oil.
- Place the cotton ball in an open container and leave it in your car 30 minutes to an hour before travel. This will allow the scent of the ginger essential oil to permeate the vehicle.
- Aid in soothing upset stomachs
- Lessen the chances of vomiting while on a car ride.
- Overdosing your dog with ginger may exacerbate some travel sickness symptoms. The spicy taste of the herb will irritate his digestive tract if ingested in large amounts. Heartburn may potentially occur too.
- Ginger acts as a blood thinner. It can affect the potency of anticoagulants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If your dog is prescribed these drugs, consult the vet before giving him ginger.
- If your dog has a bleeding disorder such as thrombocytopenia, hemophilia, or Von Willebrand disease or is scheduled for a surgical procedure, please consult your veterinarian beforehand.
- The use of ginger on pregnant or lactating dogs and canines with gallbladder issues is highly discouraged. Not enough research is made that establishes the herb’s safety for these dogs.
Natural Herbal Remedy #3: Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel seeds are not only natural breath fresheners but also contain anti-gas and antispasmodic agents that can ease motion sickness in dogs. People in some parts of the world also chew plain or sugar-coated fennel seeds after a meal to aid digestion and prevent the formation of intestinal gas.
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried fennel seeds
- 8 ounces of water
- Boil 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried seeds in 8 ounces of water.
- Let it steep for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat.
- Once the fennel tea has completely cooled, give your dog around 1 teaspoon for every 15 pounds of body weight.
- Alternatively, you can give your pooch fennel glycerin tincture. A good guideline is 20 drops (0.75 ml) per 20 pounds of body weight.
- Fennel seeds contain several beneficial nutrients, including fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins C and B6.
- Reduces stomach spasms and vomiting in dogs
- Fennel seeds contain volatile oils, which lactating or pregnant dogs might be sensitive to. As a precaution, avoid using the herb on them.
- Dogs allergic to plants like carrot, celery, and mugwort may have allergic reactions to fennel seeds.
Some dogs were observed to develop photosensitive dermatitis after exposure to the herb. It takes the form of rashes, which cause a painful burning sensation and swelling of the skin.
- Fennel hinders blood clotting in dogs. For this reason, it is not recommended for canines with bleeding disorders.
- Fennel seeds contain estragole, which has carcinogenic properties. Dogs suffering from cancer should not be given this herb to prevent aggravating their preexisting health issue.
FAQ About Travel Sickness in Dogs
1. How do I know if my dog is having travel sickness?
Travel sickness in dogs can be identified by various gastric symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as changes in behavior like listlessness, whining, panting, and shaking. Other signs may include drooling, panting, swallowing, and lip-licking or smacking, as noted in this article. Some dogs may also yawn and whine, and severely affected canines may develop diarrhea.
Fortunately, the signs of travel sickness typically disappear once the motion ceases.
2. How long does dog car sickness last?
The duration of dog car sickness can vary from pooch to pooch. However, puppies tend to outgrow travel sickness once they reach around 1 year of age.
Adult dogs, on the other hand, may need desensitization training to avoid feeling nauseous during travel. Giving them herbal remedies for motion sickness can make the process easier.
3. Are there any OTC medications available for treating dog car sickness?
There are products available that contain natural ingredients to help dogs cope with stress and anxiety related to travel. Some of these products may contain soothing pheromones that mimic natural messages exchanged by dogs in the wild. These products may be available as a neck collar or spray.
5 more tips to help prevent car motion sickness in dogs:
- Work on conditioning your dog to car rides by starting with short trips to build their tolerance for longer trips.
- Avoid limiting car rides to just trips to the veterinarian, as this can increase your dog’s anxiety about car travel.
- Use car safety restraints such as a dog harness with a seat belt to minimize abrupt movements that may cause nausea.
- If possible, allow your dog to see out the window to promote coordination between the eyes and the vestibular system.
- Avoid feeding your dog before traveling.
Administering herbal remedies to dogs before taking them out on a car ride aids in suppressing symptoms of travel sickness. It also helps make travel a pleasant and comfortable experience for you and your canine companion.
If your pooch still experiences stomach upset after the trip, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with our natural remedies for dogs with diarrhea. These remedies can help to soothe your pup’s digestive tract and get them feeling their best again.