Thursday 1 December 2022

Dogs suffer from less motion sickness in electric vehicles (EVs) than conventional ones

There is a study currently out, hot off the press, which, according to the researchers, clearly indicates that dogs prefer being in the back of electric vehicles (EVs) compared to conventionally powered vehicles. And they prefer it because they suffer from less motion sickness otherwise known as travel sickness or car sickness.

Dogs suffer from less motion sickness in electric vehicles (EVs) than conventional ones
Dogs suffer from less motion sickness in electric vehicles (EVs) than conventional ones. Image: Image by Ferenc Tóth from Pixabay.

And the professor, Prof Mills, who led the study in the UK with the assistance of the second-hand car retailer CarGurus, said that he believed that the lower vibrations and lower noise in EVs is a major contributing factor in their findings.

Both cats and dogs suffer from motion sickness. I'm not sure that many cat owners know about this. We know that cats don't like travelling in cars when they go to the veterinarian, but they might not realise that their cat might also be suffering from car sickness.

Car sickness in people, and pets, is caused by a clash in the sensory signals coming from the inner ear which regulates balance and the eyes which also helps to orientate the cat and dog in terms of their position in relation to the surroundings. It is worth noting that cats and dogs have excellent hearing and that cats don't understand cars. They see them as hostile creatures when travelling.

Prof Mills said that he believed that the lack of noise and vibrations helped to put the dogs at ease. Although the research is about dogs, I've taken the liberty of extending it to relate to cats because their anatomy is very similar. Although research is required on cats as well because I think this research reveals something which is very important to dog and cat owners.

Car sickness is a big problem for dogs. It is common. In this study they employed 20 dog participants who were placed in the back of a Genesis diesel vehicle and an electric vehicle. We don't know the manufacturer of the electric vehicle employed.

The professor found that the dogs were more settled when sitting in the back of the EV compared to the diesel vehicle as the tended to break their lying down posture in the diesel. The data revealed that dogs broke their lying down position 50% more often when in the diesel car compared to the EV.

He also found that two of the dogs suffered from nausea and car sickness when in the diesel Genesis test car. Their heart rate also spiked, and their behaviour indicated distress. Car sickness and dogs can cause whining and pacing, lethargy and distress combined with drooling.

The professor found that when the two dogs travelled in the EV their heart rate decreased by almost a third.

Prof Mills said:

"There were two dogs that, when I looked at them, they looked like they suffered from car sickness. They really started to salivate a lot and various other signs and although they weren't actually sick, they looked to me as though they were nauseated."

And he added that: 

"They seem to be much better in the electric car than the diesel cars and I found that quite an intriguing result and I think it's something that we ought to look at more because car sickness is a big problem for dogs."

The study revealed that dogs prefer less vibration and noise. Diesels are known for their vibrations. Electric vehicles are very smooth by comparison. I think we need to add in Toyota hybrids which are also incredibly smooth. These are vehicles driven by both battery and petrol engine simultaneously.

The findings have been submitted for peer review and they are important. Prof Mills added that given the high number of dogs that have difficulties in travelling and that they are very much members of the family, these findings will encourage people to buy EVs.

The findings suggest that dogs suffering from car sickness may be cured if their owner purchases in EV! The problem is that EVs are very expensive and the secondary problem at the moment is that the cost of electricity is highly inflated because of Putin's invasion of Ukraine and therefore the differential in the cost of running an EV compared to petrol engine car is not as great as it was.

Note: this is a cross post from a similar article on the main website.

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