How to Prevent Dog Car Sickness


By Kim Salerno

Many of us plan on hitting the road with our pets this month for a little summer fun. However, for some four-legged family members, road trips can mean upset tummies.

Queasiness in the car is not just a human problem. Dogs and puppies do sometimes experience motion sickness on car rides.  Unfortunately, car sickness can make any kind of pet travel a distressing ordeal for both dogs and their families.

Car sickness doesn't have to be a serious or lasting problem for your pet. With the right treatment, it can be mitigated, or even stopped altogether.  There are several causes of car sickness in dogs and puppies. The most common include:

  • Immature ears. In puppies, the ear structures that regulate balance aren't fully developed, which can cause them to be extra sensitive to motion sickness. Many dogs will outgrow car sickness as they age.
  • Stress. If traveling in the car has only led to unpleasant experiences for your dog - to vet exams, for example -- he may literally be worried sick about the journey.
  • Self-conditioning. If your dog experienced nausea on his first car rides as a puppy, he may associate car rides with illness, and expect to get sick in the car.

Car sickness doesn't look like you might expect it to in dogs, and you might not even realize that this is the challenge you're dealing with.

Here are some symptoms to look out for:



  • Inactivity/lethargy
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive/repetitive yawning
  • Whining/crying
  • Hyper-salivation (drooling)
  • Vomiting

If your dog is suffering from car sickness, symptoms will typically disappear within a few minutes after the car comes to a stop.

Fortunately, there are a number of different methods available to help prevent and/or treat canine car sickness. 

1.  Increase His Comfort Level

Turn your dog so that he faces forward. Motion sickness is related to the brain's ability to process movement. The less blurring movement he sees out the window, the better he might feel.

Keep your dog as close to the front seat as possible (but not in the front seat). The farther back in the car you go, the more you sense motion.

Opening the windows a crack. This brings in fresh air, which is soothing, and helps reduce air pressure.

Avoid feeding your dog for a few hours before a car trip.

Transport him in a travel crate. A crate will limit his view to the outside, and will help to keep any sickness he may have confined to a small space.

Keep the temperature low. Heat, humidity and stuffiness can exacerbate car sickness.

Distract him. Toys, soothing music, or just hearing you speak may help calm and distract a high-strung dog.

Take frequent breaks. Getting out for fresh air or to stretch your legs can help him feel better periodically.

Exercise before your car ride.

2.  Reconditioning

For dogs who have negative associations with riding in cars, reconditioning could be the answer. Reconditioning does take time and patience, but it really can help relax your dog.

Drive in a different vehicle.  Your dog might associate a specific vehicle with unpleasant memories.

Take short car trips to places your dog enjoys. This will replace negative associations with positive ones.

Gradually acclimate your dog to the car. Start by sitting with your dog in the car while the engine is off each day for a few days.  When he seems comfortable, let it idle. Once he is used to that, drive slowly around the block. Gradually progress to longer and longer trips until your dog seems comfortable driving anywhere.

Offer your dog treats, or offer him a special toy that's just for car rides. This will make the car a fun and rewarding place to be.

3.  Medication 

While motion sickness can be helped in natural ways for some dogs, there are cases in which medications is the only option. There are both over-the-counter and prescription medications available, including:

Anti-nausea drugs: reduce nausea and vomiting.

Antihistamines: lessen motion sickness, reduce drooling, and calm nerves.

Phenothiazine: reduces vomiting and helps sedate the dog.

Caution: Always discuss any medications you plan to give your pet with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog is healthy enough to take them, will be given the correct dosage, and won't suffer any adverse effects.

4.  Holistic Approach 

Holistic treatments are another way to go for dog parents. They really can be effective, and are worth trying.  Some common holistic choices include:

Ginger. Ginger is used to treat nausea. Try giving your dog ginger snap cookies or ginger pills at least 30 minutes before travel.

Peppermint, chamomile and horehound naturally help calm the stomach and nerves of your dog. These are available in pills and teas.

Massage can help sooth and relax your pet before you travel.

As with other medications, always discuss any holistic remedies you plan to give your pet with your vet to ensure that it's appropriate and the dosage is correct.

In short, with some patience, training, or the right medications or holistic treatments, you and your dog will be able to ride safely and happily together anywhere you need to go!



The feral cat population in Beaufort County, especially on Hilton Head and in Bluffton, is growing rapidly. Even with the efforts of the trapping program offered by local rescue organizations, there is still a feral cat issue in both communities.

There is a concentrated effort with local animal shelters and Beaufort County Animal Services to control the feral population in a humane and healthy way.

The only way to be truly successful is to work together with the communities in need.  This requires constant communication and an intense effort in trapping, fixing, and monitoring feral cat colonies.

There are so many wonderful feral cat volunteers already working the program, but more are needed. It is so important to report feral cats in any area where they have not been seen before and start the trapping program before the kittens are born. The effort to control the population starts from the first sighting of a feral cat.  Anyone interested in joining the effort to make a difference in the lives of the feral cats may call the Hilton Head Humane Association at 843-681-8686 or Beaufort County Animal Services at 843-255-5010. 


Tara’s Salon on Hilton Head Island is hosting its fourth annual Cut-A-Thon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12. The event will offer high-end haircuts to the public, with proceeds going to local shelter programs specifically benefiting the Feral Cat Program. Hilton Head Ice Cream and Groomingdales are also involved in the event.  For more information, call 843-842-4911.


Three local businesses specialize in creating treats for dogs. 

Stella’s Snacks

Hilton Head Island Teresa Brandow is Belfair Plantation’s pastry chef, but also makes natural dog treats called Stella’s Snacks. The dog treats are named after her mixed breed rescue dog from Hilton Head Humane. Her treats come in multiple flavors like Yam Chews, Liver Training Treats and more. They are sold by the half case. Find more information online at

Ollie B. Biscuits

Oliver Bentleys of Savannah makes premium, gluten-free dog treats called Ollie B. Biscuits. The treats come in the larger biscuit and the smaller biscuit bites. The biscuits are made with all human grade ingredients and in small batches. Find more information online at 

Big Sweeties Treats

Big Sweeties Treats are an all-natural sweet potato treat made on Hilton Head Island. They are simply dehydrated sweet potatoes made into a dog treat. There are no other ingredients besides sweet potatoes. The treats are sold at Tail Wiggles in Wexford Village.



  • While there are seasonal regulations, dogs are welcome on every Hilton Head Island beach.
  • It’s rumored that, at the end of the Beatles song, “A Day in the Life,” Paul McCartney recorded an ultrasonic whistle, audible only to dogs, just for his Shetland sheepdog.
  • Dogs chase their tails for a variety of reasons: curiosity, exercise, anxiety, predatory instinct or, they might have fleas! If your dog is chasing his tail excessively, talk with your vet.
  • Dogs and humans have the same type of slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) and during this REM stage dogs can dream. The twitching and paw movements that occur during their sleep are signs that your pet is dreaming.
  • Dogs’ eyes contain a special membrane, called the tapetum lucidum, which allows them to see in the dark.
  • A dog’s normal temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 million homes
  • 45% of dogs sleep in their owner’s bed (we’re pretty sure a large percentage also hog the blankets!)
  • Why are dogs’ noses so wet? Dogs’ noses secrete a thin layer of mucous that helps them absorb scent. They then lick their noses to sample the scent through their mouth.
  • Dogs have about 1,700 taste buds. Humans have approximately 9,000 and cats have around 473.
  • A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute as that of humans.
  • It’s a myth that dogs only see in black and white. In fact, it’s believed that dogs see primarily in blue, greenish-yellow, yellow and various shades of gray.
  • When dogs kick after going to the bathroom, they are using the scent glands on their paws to further mark their territory.
  • Dogs curl up in a ball when they sleep due to an age-old instinct to keep themselves warm and protect their abdomen and vital organs from predators.
  • In addition to sweating through their paw pads, dogs pant to cool themselves off. A panting dog can take 300-400 breaths (compared to his regular 30-40) with very little effort. 


  • Dogs need sunscreen, too! Like humans, the sun’s harmful rays can cause dogs, especially those with light coats, to get sunburn, skin cancer, and be more prone to suninduced tumors. If you plan on spending the day outside with your pet in sunny Hilton Head, apply sunscreen to the sunexposed areas of their body along with the tip of their nose. Petspecific sunscreen and sun protector spray can be purchased on,, EpiPet. com, and in local pet stores.
  •  Dogs absorb heat from their paws. When taking your dog on a walk during a hot summer day, steer clear from hot surfaces like asphalt and cement that can burn their paws. If these surfaces are unavoidable where you walk, doggie boots may be purchased to help isolate the heat rising from the ground.
  • In the summer, metal bowls can get very hot and burn your dog or cat’s tounge.
  • If you have a puppy that pees on your carpet: After soaking up most of the mess with a paper towel, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the area and leave it to absorb both the traces of urine and the odor.
  • If your dog runs away from you and you finally catch up to it, no matter how angry you are at the dog, do not yell or smack it or your dog will never come to you when called for fear of being punished.
  • Do not leave your dog in the car unattended on hot days. Even with the windows open, temperatures in cars WILL reach deadly levels. It only takes five minutes! If you see a dog locked in a very hot car do something to try and help it before it's too late.
  • To keep your dog busy, buy toys with little holes in them (such as a Kong), put both big and small pieces of kibble in the toy and give it to your dog.  This will keep him busy for quite a while, presuming he has a few small ones that he gets out quickly. You can also wedge dog biscuits in the holes with a smear of peanut butter.
  • When your dog is teething, instead of have him chewing on couches, walls, etc., buy a few (cheap) washcloths. Soak the washcloth with water and put it in the freezer. When fully frozen, give it to the dog to chew. It will thaw out so have another one ready in the freezer. (Be careful when doing this with very small dogs, as they may get a chill.
  • Do not leave your pet in an area with dangling phone cords, drape cords or other items that it may strangle itself on. Be aware of electric cords that may be chewed by the pet.
  • Is your dog digging? Try putting cayenne pepper in the holes—they don't like the sensation when they go back to dig again.
  • Dog urination burns your lawn? Try giving them some tomato juice every day (either in a bowl or on their food) and it should solve the problem.
  • After soaking up the majority of urine or picking up the poop, baby wipes do a great job and pick up all smells with no stains left behind.