Dog Car Anxiety: 10 Ways to Help

Car anxiety is very common in dogs. Basically, car anxiety means that your dog is anxious to travel by car or suffers from fear of the destination. Car anxiety in dogs can ruin your trip before you even hit the main road.

But the dog is your best friend, and you want to take him wherever you go. What if your dog does not ride well in the car? Excessive drooling, dizziness, whining, and barking are the most common signs of travel anxiety. However, there is nothing to worry about; there are different ways to help your dog overcome this problem.

Traveling by car does not mean that you always have to go on long trips. Sometimes you just have to take your dog around the corner of the block for a quick shopping trip. That is why it should be important that your dog is used to traveling by car.

Signs of dog car anxiety 

In humans, it has been seen that they turn green when they feel nauseous during travel. However, common signs that your dog may experience motion sickness include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Whining and pacing
  • Smacking or licking lips
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Diarrhea

If any of these signs appear and it seems that your dog is going to vomit, the best solution is to stop the car and take him for a walk.

Why is your dog anxious in the car?

In general, it is seen that a dog’s anxiety is not about the car but about the destination to which he is going, especially if his journey always ends at the groomers, the veterinary clinic, or the boarding center. Sometimes, other triggers, such as the sound of the car or the honking of the horn, trigger anxiety.

Some dogs associate traveling with anxiety and have decided that they will suffer from anxiety or dizziness every time they get in the car. Every time they get into the car, they start to have symptoms. There are also other causes of car anxiety in dogs that are discussed below.

What are the causes of car anxiety in dogs?

Dog car anxiety or true motion sickness is more common in puppies than adult dogs; just like humans, it is more common in children than adults. The primary reason behind this is the structure of the puppies ear that is not yet fully developed. This does not mean that all adult dogs will not suffer from travel sickness, but most likely, most will.

Similarly, if the first few trips leave your dog anxious and nauseous, it means that he will always equate traveling with vomiting, even if his ear structure matures. Other factors like stress also add to travel sickness because if your dog only gets in the car to go to the vet, he will feel anxious every time he gets in the car.

How to help your anxious dog in the car 

There are different ways to help your anxious dogs in the car; here are the ten most common ways.

10 easy ways to help your anxious dog in car

1. If you are going on a long trip with your furry companion, exercise them before traveling. A good exercise session will tire them out, and they will most likely relax during the journey. Another thing is that exercise naturally increases the level of serotonin in the body which acts as a natural sedative.

2. Never give your dog anything before going on a car trip. It is best not to feed them 3 hours before starting a car trip.

3. Make a comfortable environment for your furry companion in the car so that when he enters, he feels relaxed. Your dog must be restrained in the vehicle as it is important for the safety of both of you. You can also use travel crates as they are the best and safest option in the car.

4. If your dog is simply traveling in the car seat, putting on a blanket relieves stress and adds comfort.

5. It is observed that some dogs will feel less anxious if they feel safe in the car. For these dogs, provide a carrier, cages, or harnesses to feel safe during travel.

6. If your dog is traveling in a crate, make sure there is nothing pointed in the box that could harm him. Keeping your dog on a leash and collars in the cages will result in serious strangulation hazards.

7. Your dog should sleep while you travel, but if he doesn’t, give him treats and toys to keep him occupied. Chew toys are most preferable in such conditions.

8. While traveling by car, always keep the tag and collars on, as in case your dog gets separated from you, it will be easier for you to find him. Similarly, take plenty of bathroom breaks during the trip and take your dog for a short walk and provide him with cool water.

9. If you take a break while traveling, never leave your dog alone in the car, especially on hot summer days. The temperature inside the car is too high than outside. If you leave your dog in the car, he is more prone to heatstroke.

10. The best thing to do is give your dog his favorite toy or a shirt or blanket that has your scent on it. This helps a lot to keep your dog calm and make the trip more enjoyable. Make sure they don’t chew anything you give them, as the intestinal obstruction will be more difficult to deal with. Therefore, it is better not to provide anything that will cause obstruction.

Dog car anxiety remedies

As mentioned above, puppies are more prone to car anxiety than adult dogs, but as they grow older, this problem lessens. If your dog is among those who sadly cannot overcome this problem by following the steps outlined above and is still bothered by anxiety and dizziness, here are some remedies to ease your dog’s anxiety.

  • If your dog is feeling anxious, roll down the car windows to get fresh air.
  • Keep the temperature normal inside the car, neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Do not give your dog anything to eat a few hours before the trip.
  • Consult your veterinarian before beginning the trip for anti-motion sickness medications.
  • There are different pheromones for dogs available on the market in the form of diffusers, collars, and sprays. These pheromones can help relax your dog.

Medication for dog car anxiety

Some different medications and supplements can be used for anxiety and nausea. It is always recommended to consult your vet first.

Anti-anxiety medication

Anti-anxiety medications are used only in extreme conditions and only in stressed pets. Most veterinarians recommend giving anti-anxiety medicines the night before the trip and 12 hours after the first dose so that your pet does not feel anxious during the trip. Different anti-anxiety medications have various forms of administration, so consult your veterinarian for their use.

Anti-nausea medications

There are different anti-nausea medications that can help reduce vomiting stress in dogs. Consult your veterinarian about these medications before the start of the trip. A single dose of anti-nausea medicine is helpful for 24 hours. Anti-nausea medications only help with motion sickness, not anxiety.

Homeopathic remedies 

There are specific homeopathic remedies like flower essence that help calm anxious dogs. However, science does not believe in their efficacy, so use them before speaking with your vet.


There are different calming supplements available on the market that can help your dog in different situations. However, it would be best to discuss with your vet which one suits your dog in a state of anxiety or motion sickness.

How to cure your dog’s car anxiety

Traveling with your dog can be stressful for you, but following the tips above will help keep your pet safe and healthy. Car anxiety in dogs is curable; you just have to follow the tips mentioned above. 

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