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Motion Sickness in Dogs

By William B. Thomas, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology), Professor, Neurology and Neurosurgery, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Tennessee ; Cheryl L. Chrisman, DVM, MS, EDS, DACVIM (Neurology), Professor of Veterinary Neurology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida ; Charles E. Rupprecht, VMD, MS, PhD, Director, LYSSA LLC ; Kyle G. Braund, BVSc, MVSc, PhD, FRCVS, DACVIM (Neurology), Director, Veterinary Neurological Consulting Services ; Caroline N. Hahn, DVM, MSc, PhD, DECEIM, DECVN, MRCVS, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Clinical Neuroscience, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh ; Charles M. Hendrix, DVM, PhD, Professor, Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University ; Karen R. Munana, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology), Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine,North Carolina State University ; T. Mark Neer, DVM, DACVIM, Professor and Hospital Director, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University ; Robert Wylie, BVSc, QDA

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Motion sickness results in nausea, excessive drooling, vomiting, and occasionally other signs such as poor appetite for several hours after the motion sickness event. Animals may yawn, whine, show signs of uneasiness or apprehension, or have diarrhea. Motion sickness is usually seen during travel by land, sea, or air, and signs usually disappear when the motion of the vehicle ceases.

The principal cause of motion sickness is due to stimulation of the sensory organ in the inner ear, which has connections to the vomiting center in the brain stem. Fear of the vehicle may be a contributing factor in dogs and cats, and signs may occur even in a vehicle that is not moving. This occurs if a dog has become preconditioned to illness associated with travel in a vehicle.

Motion sickness can be minimized with conditioning or medication in many dogs.

In some cases, motion sickness can be overcome by conditioning the animal to travel. See also Introduction to Travel with Pets In others, drug treatment can help prevent motion sickness, provide sedation, and decrease drooling. These medications can be obtained from your veterinarian and include tranquilizers, sedatives, and products to decrease nausea and/or vomiting.

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* This is the Veterinary Version. *