Dramamine is often the drug of choice for treating motion sickness in people. Dramamine works in dogs, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice.
The symptoms of motion sickness are nausea and/or vomiting caused by riding in a moving vehicle. And, as soon as the motion stops, the nausea or vomiting stops.
Many dogs suffer from motion sickness, and owners of these dogs often dread traveling with them. Motion sickness happens most often in young puppies, which happily disappears as they get older. Note: Travel anxiety is different from motion sickness and requires other treatments if this is the primary problem, or if the anxiety is in addition to motion sickness.
To combat motion sickness naturally, it is generally recommended not to feed your dog or puppy within two hours of travel if he often gets motion sickness. This alone might not keep your dog from feeling sick, but it will reduce the amount of mess that needs to be cleaned up afterward.
Dramamine for Dogs
Some over-the-counter human medication antihistamines, like Dramamine, are widely considered safe for dogs. Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) is related to Benadryl (diphenhydramine), which you may have administered to your dog if he had a reaction to a bee sting. Dramamine can be given 30 minutes prior to travel, and the anti-nausea effect lasts for three to six hours.
Bonine (meclizine), also an antihistamine, can be given one to two hours prior to travel. Given on an empty stomach, the anti-nausea effect lasts for 24 hours.
A Note of Caution: Side Effects of Dramamine for Dogs
The main side effect of these antihistamines is mild sedation, but other side effects like diarrhea are possible. In addition, some dogs with health issues like kidney, liver, or heart disease might not be good candidates. These medicines come in different strengths, which is extremely important for dosages. For these reasons, the safest thing to do is discuss what you want to do with your veterinarian, who may recommend you consider an FDA-approved medication instead.
FDA-Approved Medications for Canine Motion Sickness
Two medications are FDA-approved for motion sickness in dogs. Both require a prescription.
- Cerenia (maropitant) acts on a trigger zone in the brain to prevent vomiting. It should be given two hours prior to travel on empty stomach, is effective for 24 hours, but should not be used for more than two days in a row for motion sickness. Cerenia can be administered safely to dogs who are at least 16 weeks old.
- Acepromazine, or “ace,” is more commonly known as a tranquilizing/sedating drug, but it has anti-vomiting effects. It is recommended less often because of its side effects: moderate sedation and a decrease in blood pressure. In most dogs, the effect lasts for three to four hours. Boxers, sighthounds, and some herding breed dogs can be particularly sensitive to acepromazine.