Motion Sickness in Dogs (Canine Vestibular Apparatus)

Source: PetWave, Updated on August 12, 2016
Motion Sickness

Definition of Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, sometimes called “car sickness,” is the discomfort felt during transportation on land (by car, bus or train), in air (by airplane) or on sea (by boat, ship or raft). It is fairly common in domestic dogs. Motion sickness is caused by unfamiliar irregular motion that disturbs the sensory pathways controlling balance. Receptors located in a part of the inner ear called the “vestibular apparatus” normally help a dog regulate its body position and movements. When a dog is in a vehicle and is not familiar with the sensation of traveling, its vestibular apparatus and associated nerve pathways get over-stimulated, causing motion sickness. Some dogs develop motion sickness just by seeing a car or being inside a stationary car, probably due to fear based on unfamiliarity with vehicles or prior unpleasant travel experiences. Affected dogs often vomit, drool, yawn, whine, tremble and act restless, agitated or depressed. Fortunately, most dogs eventually become desensitized to traveling.

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