Can Birds Get Airsick?

Some birds get airsick, but not when they are flying independently. Birds can get old-fashioned motion sickness when traveling by airplane, as well as in cars or by other modes of transportation. Other animals also can become sick during transit, which means that people who are traveling with pets should take special precautions, such as not feeding an animal or feeding it only a small meal six to eight hours before travel. Other suggestions include taking a pet for short trips to determine whether it shows signs of feeling ill, which can help the owner decide whether to travel with that particular pet.

More about motion sickness:

  • One theory is that motion sickness is a defense against the consumption of toxic plants. Toxic plants can create hallucinations that produce sensations of motion. These sensations, regardless of their source, triggers nausea, which would protect a human or animal by forcing him or her to vomit up the toxic plant.

  • Dogs can take antihistamines or anti-nausea medications to combat motion sickness, although it is important for dog owners to talk to their veterinarians before giving their pets any medications.

  • Some vets believe that pet owners can reduce motion sickness in pets by taking them on short trips to let them get used to traveling.

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Discussion Comments


Motion sickness is caused by the eyes of the animal not tracking where it is going by moving its head. The vestibular apparati in the inner ears are 3D motion sensors. The sensors are not working properly when the head is not motion-tracking, the hair cells in the sensor move beyond its physiologic range and get confused, thus producing symptoms of motion sickness: nausea.

To cure the problem, make sure the animal can look out the window of the vehicle. If not possible, make sure the vehicle does not make abrupt motion changes. If you want to do the experiment yourself, blindfold one of your passengers while the driver makes sharp hair-pin turns.


That is really unusual and interesting, considering they (birds) fly. It's like a fish can swim but would get sick if it's in a submarine!

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