Dog Travel Stress: How To Deal With It Naturally

Dog Travel Stress: How To Deal With It Naturally

April 5, 2021

Dog travel stress is most commonly associated with car rides. But in today’s busy world, our pups also travel by train, subway, bus, motorcycle, and more. Some of these dogs react to the frightening sights, sounds, and smells of travel. For others, the motion causes physical symptoms such as nausea and vertigo.

Whether you are RV-ing across the country or simply heading to the vet for a checkup, there are several natural ways to help your dog cope with travel stress.

dog travel anxiety

Why Do Some Dogs Suffer From Travel Stress?

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness in dogs is often related to the balance mechanisms within the ears. Known as the vestibular apparatus, these tiny structures provide sensory information about motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation.

Since their vestibular systems are not fully developed, puppies are more likely to experience nausea and vertigo in the car than adult dogs. Most will outgrow the problem by the time they are a year old. However, some dogs battle motion sickness all their lives.

Fearful Stimuli

Cars, buses, airplanes, etc. are not part of most dogs’ day-to-day lives. Therefore the loud noises, flashing lights, and strange smells can be frightening and over-stimulating.

Past Trauma

One bad experience is often enough for dogs to develop life-long phobias to certain stimuli. If they drool, tremble, and vomit during their first car ride, it could be the beginning of a negative association with travel.

Destination Stress

Sometimes the root of a dog’s travel stress isn’t the voyage, it’s the destination. If your dog only rides in a vehicle to go to the vet or groomer, he or she may come to associate it with unpleasant experiences.

panting dog travel anxiety

Signs & Symptoms Of Dog Travel Stress

The signs of dog travel stress can be quite subtle such as freezing up during the ride, cowering, or displaying the body language of distress (flat ears and tucked tail). Other dogs show more obvious signs:

  • Shaking
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Nervous Lip-Licking
  • Whining
  • Pacing
  • Urinating or Defecating
  • Barking
  • Aggression

Can You Cure Your Dog’s Travel Stress?

While you cannot “cure” your dog of travel stress, you can bring the condition under control with a combination of natural products and techniques.

travel anxiety in dogs

Natural Ways To Help Your Dog Cope With Travel Stress:

Use vehicle restraints for safety and to help prevent motion sickness.

Properly restraining your dog during travel is important for safety, but it can also help prevent stress and motion sickness. Whether you choose a seat belt mechanism or a crate, restraining your dog helps provide a sense of security.

If you choose a safety harness or seat belt, be sure to buckle your pup in a forward-facing position. This prevents them from gazing out the side or rear windows which can induce vertigo. While crates aren’t as secure as safety harnesses, they further limit your dog’s view of passing vehicles and scenery which may trigger stress.

Regulate air pressure within the vehicle to stave off nausea and discomfort.

Dogs are very sensitive to air pressure. It is a contributing factor to the nausea and stress they experience during motor vehicle travel. Cracking your car windows just an inch or two balances the air pressure and makes for a much more comfortable ride.

Spray soothing pheromones 15 minutes before hitting the road.

Calming pheromone sprays contain hormones similar to those released by nursing dogs to soothe their puppies. Many pet parents find that spritzing the back seat or a favorite blanket provides a bit of relief to dogs with travel stress.

Withhold food prior to a trip to help prevent car sickness.

If your dog’s travel stress leads to car sickness, try withholding food for several hours before a ride. Your dog is less likely to vomit on an empty stomach, but low blood sugar can also leave your pooch feeling queasy. To prevent this, give your pup a nibble of sugary candy* – like a jellybean – right before you begin your drive.

*Avoid candy containing Chocolate or Xylitol

motion sickness in dogs

Reconditioning Therapy For Dog Travel Stress

Reconditioning therapy is particularly effective for dogs with travel stress. The process involves using positive reinforcement techniques to desensitize your dog to approaching, getting into, and riding in a vehicle.

Dog behavior experts recommend:

  • Giving your dog a week or two off from all car travel
  • Changing vehicles to avoid association with past unpleasant experiences
  • Using treats to make the car a happy place
  • Providing special toys your dog only has access to in the car
  • Gradually building tolerance to car rides
  • Going somewhere fun on your practice trips so your dog looks forward to future rides

Since reconditioning an anxious dog requires a great deal of skill and patience, you may want to hire a professional dog trainer to help you.

What Can You Give Your Dog For Travel Stress?

Some people turn to anti-stress medications and sedatives to combat their dogs’ stressful symptoms. Other pet parents prefer to seek out natural solutions such as those listed below.

Herbal Supplements

If your dog’s stress is mild, or you prefer to use more natural remedies, consider herbal supplements such as Echinacea, Chamomile, and St. John’s Wort.

For pups that experience nausea and vomiting during travel, Valerian Root, ginger, and peppermint may provide relief. And for dogs that need a sedative effect to reduce their stress and excitability, you can try oatstraw, skullcap, and passionflower.

Homeopathic Remedies

Argentum nitricum and Cocculus indicus are popular homeopathic remedies for stress, motion sickness, and nausea.


Unlike anti-stress drugs, CBD oil is all-natural and will not cause harmful side effects. It can help your dog battle a number of issues including nausea and travel stress. Since these symptoms are caused by a combination of mental and physical factors, your pup needs a safe option to relieve tension and promote a calm state of mind.

CBD For Dog Travel Stress

CBD oil is especially beneficial for easing nausea nausea and stress caused by car rides because you can give it before your dog ever climbs into the vehicle. It works by activating the cannabinoid receptors throughout your dog’s brain and body, stimulating the production of serotonin, the “feel good” chemical.

Serotonin is found in the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. By stimulating the body and brain to produce more of it, CBD naturally alleviates stress and nausea.

Which CBD Oil Is Safe & Effective For Your Dog’s Travel Stress?

Cannanine™ Organic Full Spectrum CBD Oil From Hemp is made from human-grade ingredients including organically-grown Colorado hemp. It is free of toxins like heavy metals, harmful bacteria, yeast, and mold. More importantly, it is 100% free of THC, the controversial chemical found in marijuana.

While THC can enhance the medicinal benefits of CBD in humans, it is not safe for use in dogs and cats. Cannanine™ is made specifically for pets so there is never a trace of THC. No THC also means that Cannanine™ is legal in all 50 states.

In addition to its many benefits for your dog’s health and well being, every purchase of Cannanine™ provides 7 healthy meals for shelter dogs in need.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.