Guest Post: Can I Give My Dog Dramamine?

Guest Post Written By: Sarah Robinson via

Contact Sarah: sarahrobinson24(at)

With so many of the fun places to visit with dogs needing a journey to get there, cars and dogs are as closely linked as movies and popcorn. Unfortunately for those canines that suffer from motion sickness, even a short trip can leave them shaking and salivating, and breakfast making an unscheduled reappearance; which may make you think twice before setting off to explore a new park.

But what if there was a non-prescription medication that could help? This is where Dramamine for dogs may provide effective relief against motion sickness for some. Read more on

What Causes Motion Sickness?
If your dog is a poor traveler, it’s no surprise to learn they’re not the only one. Indeed, it’s thought around one in every six dogs suffers from car sickness. However, this common problem has a big impact on day-to-day life as it means even short journeys are a trial rather than a pleasure.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Just as motion sickness is more common in children than adults, so some young dogs grow out of the problem. In a child or puppy, the balance mechanism is still maturing with the result that nausea is more common. This is because travel sickness is triggered when the balance mechanism in the inner ear sends messages that are out of sync with what the eyes see.

Another factor is that a dog may learn to associate car travel with stress and start to feel ill before they set paw inside the vehicle. This makes sense, because the likelihood is their first journey was either to the vet for a shot or a long journey to a new home, leaving behind their litter mates and mother.

What are the Signs of Motion Sickness in Dogs?
Some dogs have only to look at a car and a chain reaction starts whereby they feel anxious and anticipate feeling nauseous. By the time they get inside the vehicle they’re a panting wreck and practically retching before you leave the drive.

The signs a dog is affected by motion sickness include:

• Anxiety and reluctance to get into the vehicle

• Drooling and heavy salivation

• Panting

• Yawning

• Restlessness and whining

• Vomiting

Enough of the downside, let’s take a look at how you can help, starting with a medication to relieve the physical symptoms, and therefore help with long term reconditioning to accept car travel. One such medication is Dramamine.

Can I Give My Dog Dramamine?
For the majority of dogs it’s perfectly fine to give a dose of Dramamine (but if your dog is very young, elderly, or has a health condition always checks first with your vet.)

Dramamine is an antihistamine that is available without prescription. The active ingredient is dimenhydrinate, which has anti-nausea properties and a mild sedative effect. This drug is related to diphenhydramine, perhaps better known in the US as the product, Benadryl.

If you’ve ever tried to read on a bumpy journey and felt sick as a result, it is the messages from the eyes cross referenced with those from the balance center that make you feel sick. Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) works by interfering with the transmission of messages from the balance center in the inner ear that are sent to the brain. Cut out the message from the balance center and you feel better.

Many dogs’ owners use Dramamine to take the edge of their dog’s travel sickness and anxiety. Not only do they feel less nauseous but the mild sedation can help combat anticipatory anxiety. However, just because a lot of people do something doesn’t mean you should automatically. Instead, let’s take a look in more detail so you decide whether or not it’s right for your dog.

Which Dogs should Avoid Dramamine?
Straight out we need to say that Dramamine is not licensed for use in the dog by the FDA. In reality this means giving Dramamine is done so at your own risk, because the product has not been extensively tested specifically in dogs to check for unusual side effects or problems.

As with any drug, there are potential side effects, so never think that because a product can be bought over the counter means it is guaranteed side effect free.

Because Dramamine has not been tested with dogs, little is known about how it might affect puppies growing in the womb and the risk of them developing birth defects. With this in mind it’s best to avoid giving Dramamine to pregnant dogs or those nursing puppies.

Likewise if you have a service dog or a working dog then Dramamine might not be suitable because the dog will be mildly sedated, and therefore less able to work.

Also be aware that Dramamine should not be given to dogs with certain health conditions such as:

• Seizures or fits

• High blood pressure

• Glaucoma (increased pressure within the eye)

If your dog takes regular medication, then be sure to check with your vet before giving Dramamine. This is because any two drugs can interact together, which may be problematic in some circumstances.

Dramamine Side Effects
Some side effects are minor such as a dry mouth, and in some individuals Dramamine can cause sickness, diarrhea, or appetite loss. The latter effects usually resolve of their own accord as the medication wears off, but if you suspect your dog was adversely affected then Dramamine is best avoided in future.

A rare but potentially more serious side effect is difficulty urinating. Thus Dramamine should never be given to dogs with a history of urination problems and straining to pass water.

Again, rare side effects include seizures, coma, breathing difficulties, and extreme lethargy. Thus, even though Dramamine is considered safe, just as with any medication it should be treated with respect.

What is the Dramamine Dosage for Dogs?

You’ve checked with the vet, your dog is healthy, and so you decide to give Dramamine a go. The next question is: What is the correct Dramamine dosage for dogs?

Indeed how much Dramamine to give a dog is not rigid and there is some considerable leeway in dosage. Instead of a precise calculation based on a dog’s weight, the dose is decided on whether they are small, medium, or large! The dose is repeated every eight hours as necessary and the recommended amount is:

• Small dogs give 12.5mg of Dramamine

• Medium to large dogs give 25 – 50 mg of Dramamine

Just be careful with miniature dogs such as teacup Yorkies as there is a maximum number of milligrams a dog can safely take in one dose. This amounts to 7.2mg of Dramamine for each one kg of body weight.

Dramamine won’t help dogs that already feel sick, so it’s best given at least one hour before the journey. Give with a handful of dry biscuits for maximum benefit.

Helping the Car Sick Canine
In addition to Dramamine, there are actions you can take to decrease the chances of your dog feeling ill in transit.

We’ve already mentioned some dogs feel anxious before even getting in the car, so be sure to keep your departures low key. Also, the dog will feel better at a comfortable temperature, so avoid cranking the heater to ‘High’. Ventilation and free moving air can also help, so direct a vent over the dog or open a window a fraction.

Being able to see the road ahead can help some dogs, so consider dog booster seats and safety harnesses to facilitate this. And last but not least, stop for frequent comfort breaks so the dog can stretch their legs and have a drink of water.

Counter Conditioning the Motion Sick Canine
In the long term you can help your dog by retraining them to associate good things with car travel. This means going back to basics and identifying at what point the dog starts to become uncomfortable.

For some, even getting in a stationary car is stressful, so the idea is to have the dog happy with this before even thinking of starting the engine. You might do this by feeding the dog their meals in the car, with the door open, or perhaps having a game on the backseat with the dog’s favorite toy.

Bit by bit you build the dog’s confidence, progressing in small steps such as turning on the ignition whilst remaining stationary, then reversing out of the drive and back in, a turn round the block, and then a short journey.

All in all Dramamine is a useful tool to make car travel more pleasant for the dog who suffers from motion sickness.


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