Why dogs prefer travelling in electric cars

The lack of noise and vibrations of electric vehicles are thought to put dogs at ease - Asadour Guzelian
The lack of noise and vibrations of electric vehicles are thought to put dogs at ease - Asadour Guzelian

Dogs prefer electric cars to traditional petrol or diesel vehicles because they suffer less motion sickness, scientists have found.

While debate rages over the adoption and practicality of electric cars among people, it seems dogs have a clear preference for the eco-friendly option.

The lack of noise and vibrations are thought to put the pets at ease and a first of its kind study on 20 dogs shows the smooth calmness of electric power is preferred by canines.

Prof Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary behavioural medicine at University of Lincoln, told The Telegraph that the second-hand car website CarGurus approached him and asked if any scientists had investigated how dogs felt about electric vehicles compared to ones with internal combustion engines.

“I looked into it and told them that there was nothing on this out there,” he said.

Prof Mills then designed a study, funded by CarGurus, where dogs were driven on a short ten-minute route near the University of Lincoln in the back of an electric and a diesel car.

'Car sickness is a big problem for dogs'

Video was taken of each animal and heart rate sensors tracked the dog’s response and showed dogs were more settled and more likely to stay lying down in an electric car.

Two of the dogs, Prof Mills found, suffered with nausea and car sickness when in the diesel Genesis test car, with their heart rate spiking and their behaviour revealing some distress.

But these two dogs were fine when travelling in the electric model, with their heart rate decreasing by almost a third.

“The dogs in the diesel cars would lie down but they kept breaking their lying down and did not settle to the same degree as the ones in the electric car,” Prof Mills told The Telegraph.

Data show that dogs broke their lying down 50 per cent more often when in a diesel car compared to an electric.

“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,” Prof Mills added.

“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.”

Dogs prefer less vibration and noise

The findings are now being submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal and the work is expected to be accepted and published soon.

“Given the number of dogs that have difficulties in travelling, given that owners consider their pets very much part of their family, I do think this is the sort of thing that factors into people's decision when they're getting a car,” Prof Mills said.

The study also found no negative side effects of putting dogs in electric cars and Prof Mills believes the lack of vibrations and noise, perhaps the combination of the two, is what the dogs prefer.

It is also worth considering, according to Prof Mills, that dogs who suffer with car sickness may be cured of their nausea by their owners switching to an electric vehicle, but more research is needed with more participants and different routes and car types.

CarGurus, which collates information on second-hand cars to help people pick the right motor for them, carried out further research with dog owners and found more that around half of all dogs suffer with excitement, anxiety and nausea when travelling in a car.

Chris Knapman, of CarGurus UK, said: “We know from previous studies that the sharp increase in dog ownership in the past three years has caused many motorists to rethink what car best suits their needs.

“To date, our advice here has focused on safety and practicality, and these remain the primary considerations.

“However, for those who regard the switch to an electric car as a good fit, this study will provide reassurance that it'll suit their dog as equally as well.”