Do English Bulldogs Get Car Sick?

If you’re the lucky owner of an English bulldog you know how wonderfully patient, fun-loving, and loyal they can be. They make excellent companions and want to be with you wherever you go. Unfortunately, if where you’re going means getting there by car, you might have to deal with your bullie buddy getting car sick on occasion.

English bullies get more car sick than other breeds. Bulldog puppies are more prone to getting car sick than adults, because the inner ear that helps with equilibrium isn’t fully developed yet. The movement of a car is unnatural and can throw their equilibrium off, causing them to get nauseous.

Car sickness, technically known as motion sickness, is prevalent among most breeds of dog and the English Bulldog is no exception. Like some humans, a car in motion gets their stomach-churning and can make them vomit. Unlike humans, your English bulldog won’t let you know if they’re feeling car sick before they vomit, which can lead to some truly gross situations.

In this article, Do English Bulldogs Get Car Sick, we’ll take a look at why English bulldogs get car sick, what causes it, and what you can do to prevent them from turning your car or truck into a scene out of The Exorcist. Enjoy!

Are English Bulldogs Prone to Car Sickness?

Unfortunately, yes. Part of the brachycephalic breed of dogs, English bulldogs have a tendency to overheat quite easily and putting them in the car, especially during hot weather, it’s a recipe for doggie disaster. The fact that English bullies also have breathing problems doesn’t help matters, nor the fact that, for some, getting up to the window to get a faceful of air while driving (which can help lower car sickness symptoms) is sometimes difficult.

Photo by The Bulldog Blog

Do English Bulldogs Get Car Sick More or Less than Other Breeds?

It seems that English bullies get more car sick than other dog breeds, in general, but as each dog is different it changes from one to the next. As we mentioned, this is due to several factors, most of which are related to their brachycephalic nature. They overheat easily, have trouble breathing, and can’t easily reach the window to get fresh air, all of which lead to more nausea and car sickness than some other dog breeds.

Which Breeds Tend to Get Car Sickness the Most

As far as which dog breeds tend to get the most carsick, the fact is that it depends on the dog, the situation, and whether they have been sensitized to riding in an automobile. Brachycephalic breeds tend to get carsick the most, including:

  • English Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Pekingese
  • Bull Mastiff
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Chow Chow
  • Shi Tzu
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pug

What is Car Sickness and What Causes it In Dogs?

Car sickness, technically known as motion sickness, is a problem that many dogs can have when traveling (just like many humans). Also like humans, puppies tend to get carsick more than adult dogs. That’s why many puppies who get carsick won’t get carsick as adults (thank goodness). There are a few other reasons that a puppy or dog will get carsick, however, including:

  • They become very anxious or nervous because they aren’t used to being in a car
  • They get too hot and overheat (A big problem with brachycephalic breeds)
  • Some dogs associate car rides with stressful situations like going to the veterinarian
  • An inner ear infection, including vestibular disease, might be the cause
  • Certain medications will also cause them to vomit when riding in a car

What Are the Symptoms of Car Sickness in English Bulldogs?

Most of the symptoms of car sickness in dogs, including English bulldogs, are easy to see if you’re looking. The problem is that, when driving, many people aren’t able to constantly look at their English Billy to make sure they’re OK. The symptoms include:

  • They will begin whining and not stop
  • Pacing back and forth (if they’re not strapped in)
  • Vomiting all over the place
  • Suddenly becoming very lethargic and inactive
  • Licking or smacking their lips constantly and loudly
  • Drooling a lot more than usual
  • Suddenly having diarrhea
Photo by The Bulldog Blog

How to Treat Car Sickness in English Bulldogs?

One of the best ways to treat car sickness in English bulldogs is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To do that, you need to desensitize them to traveling around in the car, which might take a little bit of work but is certainly doable.

Desensitizing Your English Bulldog for Car Rides?This includes easing their anxiety by taking very short trips regularly. If they are very anxious about the car, you might not even want to leave the driveway but instead, simply start the engine and let them sit in the car while it runs for a few minutes. You can follow this up by sitting in the car and then backing out of the driveway one day, and then taking a drive around the block the next, slowly but surely building up their tolerance as well as easing their anxiety.

Remember, as smart as your English bulldog might be, you can’t expect them to simply ‘get over’ being in the car because their little doggy brain just can’t handle it. That being said, the last thing you want to do a scold them if they aren’t doing well because that will simply increase their anxiety and stress.

Don’t Give them Food Before a Long Trip

Another tip that you should follow if you’re going on a long trip with your Bullie bud is to not give them food for 3 to 4 hours before you leave. A full stomach will increase their nausea and, it stands to reason, an empty stomach will reduce it. By the way, do not withhold water and let them drink as much as they like. This will keep them hydrated and lower the chance of carsickness (although you might have to stop a few extra times so that they can urinate).

Use a Dog Carrier or Small Crate

If your English bullie is used to being in a crate, using that crate or a dog carrier when you travel is a good idea. They see this as their “safe space” and it will reduce their anxiety and thus reduce the chances that they will get carsick.

Give Them a New Toy to Play With

One fantastic way to reduce anxiety and take your English bullie’s mind off of their car anxiety is to give them a new toy to play with. This will keep them occupied and help them to forget the fact that they’re traveling in a car.

Bring Things from Home for the Scent

Since a lot of car sickness is caused by anxiety, bringing something from home like a stuffed animal toy or a blanket is a great idea. These things have the smell of home and thus reduce their anxiety. One of your old T-shirts is also a great idea, especially if it hasn’t been washed and has your “scent”.

Make Sure Your Car is Kept Cool

As we mentioned above, English bulldogs are brachycephalic and tend to overheat quite easily. Overheating can cause car sickness, so you should keep your car nice and cool during any long trips (or even short ones). If you need to crack open the window for fresh air you can do that too.

Stop Frequently on Longer Trips

Your English bullie buddy might not have a problem with short trips but on longer ones still gets carsick. To prevent this, make sure that you stop frequently and let them out to walk around, relieve themselves, and drink some water. Giving them some ice chips to chew on is also a great idea and will reduce their car sickness considerably. (We recommend stopping once every hour or so.)

Photo by The Bulldog Blog

Are There Products an English Bulldog Owner Could Use to Help Prevent or Minimize Car Sickness?

Yes, there are quite a few products that you can use to either prevent or minimize your English bully from getting carsick on long car rides. Some of them are products that they will need to ingest while others are products that can give them a sense of comfort and well-being, thus lowering their anxiety and stress.

Products to be Eaten Before Riding in the Car

  • NaturVet – Quiet Moments Calming Aid for Dogs
  • Calm Treats – Safe Calming Treats for Dogs
  • MAX Hemp Calming Treats for Dogs

Products Tha Are Worn to Keep Your Bullie Buddy Calm

  • Thundershirt Classic Dog Anxiety Jacket
  • AKC – American Kennel Club Anti Anxiety and Stress Relief Calming Coat for Dogs
  • Canine Coddler The Original Dog Anti-Anxiety Blanket Wrap

Closing Thought

Car sickness is a common problem among dogs but usually when they are puppies and their inner ear hasn’t developed completely yet. For older dogs, anxiety and stress are usually the cause of car sickness. English bulldogs have a little bit harder time in the car due to their brachycephalic nature, but you can certainly get them acclimated to driving and, above, are some products that can help.


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