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dog car sickness and travel


Fortunately there are lots of things you can do to help your dog cope with car travel. Travelling in the car can be a very stressful event for your dog/s, especially if they know you might be taking them to the veterinary hospital.

The above video explains signs of travel sickness or anxiety in dogs and what you can do to help reduce travel related problems:

Fortunately there are lots of things you can do to help your dog cope with car travel; first check the following signs of anxiety sickness and then follow the advice below.  

Signs of dog car travel anxiety and sickness

Despite 90% of pet owners stating their dog travels well in the car, 10-25% of dogs display signs of stress related and sickness behaviours in the car, including:

  • Agitation
  • Panting
  • Salivating excessively
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Urinating/soiling
  • Attempting to escape

Reducing your dog’s stress levels will, in most cases, help to reduce the symptoms of travel anxiety and sickness too.

How to reduce or prevent your dogs car travel stress or illness

Desensitization is the key to car training and is done prior to anticipated travel as follows:


Place an Adaptil Collar* on your dog and/or Use the Adaptil Spray* on the blanket used in the car (REMEMBER to wait 15 minutes before putting the dog in the car once you have sprayed)


Begin by teaching your dog to sit calmly in the car while the car is stationary


Use treats with quiet praise and calm play to get your dog to associate the car with good things


Keep sessions short; allow the dog to become comfortable with the car before proceeding to the next step


The next step is to encourage the dog to get into the car with the engine running again using treats and praise


Once your dog is happy and calm in the car, start taking them on short trips with each successful trip getting progressively longer but always interspersed with shorter ones


Consider using a travel cage or carrier, to provide reassurance (REMEMBER if using Adaptil Spray make sure you spray the bedding of the carrier and wait 15 min before introducing the dog


If you don’t use a cage or a carrier, consider using a leash or a harness to attach to the car seat belt, to restrain your dog for safety reasons. These will allow the dog to sit or lie down and also prevent them from moving around in the vehicle


On the day of travel, only feed a light meal (do not limit water)


Keep the vehicle well ventilated and never leave your dog unattended in the car

Allow your dog to exercise and toilet every 2 hours.

For long journeys (more than 4-5 hours), take this opportunity to re-apply Adaptil Spray

*The use of Adaptil Collar or Adaptil Spray has been clinically proven to help reduce the dog's signs of stress, making for a positive learning experience, and making it a quicker and easier process for all.

*Take time to consider if an Adaptil Collar would be more appropriate. If the journey is longer than 4-5 hours and/or the destination is new (e.g. going on holiday, moving house etc…) the Adaptil Collar may be more suitable, releasing a constant stream of the pheromone and helping the dog remain relaxed for up to 4 weeks. 

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