Travelling with your Chihuahua can be a blessing… or a curse!
I have experienced both. Luckily now I know how to make it fun… every…. single… time.
You can do the same with the tips in this article.
- The absolute must-haves for your Chi’s trip.
- Specific tips for travelling with your Chi by car, bus, train & plane.
- How to recognize if your Chi has motion sickness and what to do to prevent it.
- An easy and effective way to make a car ride comfy and safe for your Chihuahua (#3 is for you).
- What a doggie first aid kit should consist of and why it’s not advisable to get one from a pet store.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
- 9 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by car
- #1: Secure health documents
- #2: Ensure that vaccinations are current
- #3: Get a booster seat or a crate
- #4: Other ways to keep your Chihuahua safe
- #5: Bring the must-haves
- #6: Don’t forget the non-essentials
- #7: What to do with car sickness
- #8: Bring a vehicle first aid kit
- #9: Don’t leave your Chihuahua alone in the car
- 5 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by train
- 7 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by bus
- 3 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by plane
- 5 tips to travel with your Chihuahua puppy
9 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by car
#1: Secure health documents
Traveling with a dog doesn’t have to be a stressful event. It can be an enjoyable experience for you and your Chihuahua.
Who knows? Your Chihuahua may actually come to love traveling!
Preparation is the key to stress-free travel.
That said, get your vet’s go signal first by having your Chihuahua checked up. This may involve blood tests and other routine exams to rule out illnesses.
It’s important that your Chihuahua is fit for traveling. And that nothing will become a problem health-wise once you’re on the road.
In addition, secure health documents from your vet and bring these with you. This is necessary if you’re traveling across states or from one country to another.
Some states or countries are strict with pet travel. Or guidelines regarding pet travel differ from one place to another.
So having these documents with you at all times helps to solve potential problems.
#2: Ensure that vaccinations are current
And while you’re at the vet with your Chihuahua…
Discuss with him the vaccinations that your dog must have.
Here are a few reminders about your dog and vaccinations:
- For Chihuahua puppies that will get a rabies vaccination for the first time, wait 28 days before traveling.
This is to ensure that the vaccine has taken effect.
- In case your dog is adopted and you’re not sure whether they have received rabies vaccination. Have them vaccinated still.
Then wait 28 days before you travel.
- For Chihuahuas that have a current rabies booster, you no longer have to wait 28 days. Just make sure that the vaccination certificate is valid for the duration of the trip.
For other vaccinations, do some research about your destination. There could be other vaccinations or health certificates required.
These could differ from one place to another. So it’s better to do your homework in advance.
#3: Get a booster seat or a crate
Are you deciding between a booster seat or a crate for your Chihuahua?
Choosing one will be based on your preference. But let me tell you a bit about each.
When car manufacturers designed car seats, they didn’t have dogs in mind.
Thus, a car seat will not be appropriate for a small dog such as a Chihuahua. It won’t be enough to offer them protection or comfort.
Thus, booster seats were invented. A booster seat ‘boosts’ your pet off the car seat. This enables them to look outside the window.
For the best booster seat, I recommend the PetSafe Happy Ride Deluxe Booster Seat for Dogs.
The interior is padded to make your Chi comfortable…
No need to worry about your Chihuahua jumping out of it.
There is a hook inside where you can attach it to a harness.
Caution: Do not attach it to a leash or a collar to avoid accidents.
A crate is another fantastic idea to keep your Chi safe, protected, and comfortable.
When getting a crate, make sure that it’s big enough. Your Chi must be able to stand and turn around inside.
That’s why this SportPet Designs Plastic Kennels Rolling Travel Dog Crate comes highly recommended. You can use this for traveling, whether by car, train, or plane.
It comes in 5 sizes and has handles. The removable wheels mean you can use it for your other big dogs. Or as a regular crate at home.
In addition, the windows on all sides ensure that your Chi is well-ventilated inside.
#4: Other ways to keep your Chihuahua safe
The downside with a crate or a booster seat? It restricts a dog’s movements.
If you don’t want this for your Chihuahua, here are a few other options:
This works great for active Chihuahuas that have a hard time settling down. The zipline gives them room to move but restricts them in their designated area.
Place this in the backseat or boot of hatchback cars. A dog guard enables your Chi to see you and move freely.
This is great for all pets, but your senior Chihuahua will absolutely love this. They can lie down and rest without falling off the seat.
This waterproof and scratch-proof hammock for dogs is a great buy. It’s made of strong materials but is comfortable and easy to clean.
You can also install it in as fast as 60 seconds!
Another good thing about this hammock is that you can use it 3 ways:
- Trunk style.
- Bench style.
- Hammock style.
Lastly, the hammock prevents your dog from going to the front.
Confine your dog to the backseat by using a mesh barrier. It prevents distractions that could end in accidents.
Remember to attach the barrier securely before starting the drive.
#5: Bring the must-haves
Traveling is more fun if you’ve got everything packed.
So a few days before leaving, prepare everything. Make a list if you have to.
This prevents the chances of forgetting something such as dog poop bags.
On top of your list should be your dog’s food and water. Pack enough food and water, plus some snacks and treats.
When it comes to feeding your Chihuahua, here are a few reminders:
- Give them a light meal 3 or 4 hours before departure.
- Keep them on their regular diet to avoid stomach issues.
- Feed them just enough food to avoid the worsening of nausea.
- Don’t give them food or treats while the car is moving to avoid choking accidents.
- Schedule plenty of stops for feeding, bathroom breaks, and stretches.
- Walk your dog and have them pee and poop shortly before leaving your house.
Of course, don’t forget to bring food and water dishes. There are bowls designed for on the go.
This one is great for traveling. It is foldable for easy storage.
Aside from the crate, bring a comfortable bed so your Chi can rest in the car or in the hotel room.
If your Chihuahua is a senior:
Bring their orthopedic bed to relieve aches and pains from arthritis or hip dysplasia. They should have their favorite toy or blanket, too.
For dogs taking medicine or supplements:
Make sure your dog takes it on schedule. Even while on the road.
Set a reminder on your phone. Then find a safe rest stop in time for taking the medicine.
If your dog doesn’t like taking medicine, these can help you:
- Bring a pill device to help your dog swallow the pill.
- Bring some cheese, Pill Pockets, or Pill Expert. These are treats where you can put the pill inside.
Aside from all of these, your Chihuahua must wear a collar and tags (with your name and contact number).
And keep a leash handy for stopovers. This is to keep your Chihuahua from venturing far.
Their health and travel documents must be in a Ziploc for protection and easy retrieval
Also, get the number of a 24-hour veterinary clinic of your destination. List the important numbers down in case of emergencies.
In addition, have your Chihuahua wear a harness throughout the trip. It can be clipped to the booster seat or zipline.
If you’re looking for a harness for your Chi, this Voyager Dog Harness will do the job.
It’s made of breathable mesh and is lightweight. Also, there are reflective bands on the sides for visibility.
For the car, bring seat covers and blankets. The seat covers will protect the seats from fur or accidents.
The blanket, on the other hand, will give your dog a comfy nest when they need to nap. And it would be even more enjoyable for them if the blanket carries your smell.
And to ensure that, make sure the air conditioning works fine. Especially if it’s a hot day.
#6: Don’t forget the non-essentials
Non-essential items make traveling easy.
Very useful if you’re driving through a thunderstorm.
Run a sheet over your Chihuahua’s fur. This is to keep static electricity buildup in their fur low.
If you have one at home, then it’s a good idea to bring it. It is foldable and doesn’t weigh much.
Use it in a hotel so your Chi has a bigger space to move around.
Jackets or coats
For when you’re traveling to a cold place.
Collars, IDs, poop bags, toys… Not everything needs a spare, though. Just the ones you can’t easily procure in your destination.
This works great to remove pee stains out of the carpet.
A baking soda and water paste also helps bring the swelling down in case of a bee sting. Do it as first aid, then bring your pet to the vet.
#7: What to do with car sickness
Dogs can get motion sickness like some humans do.
In 2006, market research reported that there were more than 7,000,000 dogs suffering from motion sickness.
That boils down to 1 out of 6 dogs suffering from motion sickness.
It can be stressful if your Chihuahua has car sickness. The swaying motions while a car moves cause this reaction.
Look for these signs if you think your dog has car sickness:
- Lip licking.
- Loss of appetite.
- Growling stomach.
- Excessive drooling.
If they look dizzy or about to vomit, find a rest stop or a safe place to pull over.
It also helps to drive carefully to avoid sudden turns, which can worsen nausea.
You can prevent this by giving your dog an antiemetic medicine. Talk to your vet about this before your departure.
Note: Give an antiemetic medicine at least one hour before departure for the medicine to take effect.
#8: Bring a vehicle first aid kit
Nothing beats preparation.
Thus, get a first aid kit for your dog. You can buy something online or in pet stores.
However, most of these kits include only a few items specifically for dogs. The rest are things you can see in a traditional first aid kit.
What you can do is build your own first aid kit. This means buying the items separately.
By doing so, you are assured of the quality of the items.
Here are some things to include in your doggie first aid kit. Feel free to add something that you could use in case of emergency:
- Tick remover.
- Cotton swabs.
- Mesh wire splint.
- Surgical sutures.
- Activated charcoal.
- Antibiotic ointment.
- Hydrogen peroxide.
- Self-adhesive wrap.
- Sting relief prep pads.
- Instant cold compress.
- Self-adhesive gauze roll.
- Pill of specimen container.
- Small gauze dressing pad.
- Alcohol cleansing prep pad.
- Medium gauze dressing pad.
- Tweezers and magnifying glass.
- Thermal foil emergency blanket.
- Antiseptic povidone-iodine prep pad.
#9: Don’t leave your Chihuahua alone in the car
Being left alone in a hot car can kill any dog.
But some owners still leave their furry friends… That’s even if dogs have died in a hot car.
They might think leaving their Chihuahua in the car is okay. And they are probably unaware of the biggest danger that can cause their Chi’s life…
With the soaring temperatures, a car can quickly become a furnace. A campaign in Australia even says that it only takes 6 minutes for a dog to die in a hot car.
Did you know that the reported incidents of animal and heat exposure were 64,443? That was in England and Wales between 2009 and 2018.
And in a certain week in 2018, the RSPCA received 1,123 reports.
In addition, this research showed that out of 900,000 dogs, 5.2% experienced vehicular confinement that led to heatstroke.
If you’re the only one traveling with your Chihuahua, going to the bathroom could be challenging. However, do not leave your dog in the car.
According to this study, cars heat up quickly in the first 15 to 30 minutes.
Thank goodness there are stops where you can take your dog to the restroom. Look for Petco, Petsmart, and veterinary offices.
You can also look for Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, and Lowes that have public restrooms. But ask for permission first to bring your dog inside the restroom.
5 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by train
#10: Secure train seats in advance
When you travel with your Chihuahua, do preparations in advance.
Including making the reservations. This is to make sure that you can board the train as scheduled without hassles.
The Amtrak, for example, only allows a maximum of 5 pets per train. So better call in advance to secure a slot for your Chihuahua.
#11: Make early hotel reservations
Planning to stay in a hotel at your destination? Make the reservation days before your departure.
Remember, not all hotels welcome pets. So allow yourself enough time to search for pet-friendly hotels. Be ready to pay extra for your pet.
Aside from hotels, Airbnbs are your best bet. If you know where to look, you can find an Airbnb that’s within your budget.
There are also Airbnbs that allow pets at no additional costs. But better call the owner for confirmation.
#12: Follow general guidelines
Following guidelines can make your train journey a breeze.
There are rules and regulations regarding pet companions. These depend on which train you’ll board.
For example, the Amtrak says that a person can bring only one pet. And pets are restricted from certain train cars.
Amtrak also requires that a pet is at least 8 weeks old. And your pet is allowed a maximum of 7 hours travel time.
If this is the case, set a plan B if your destination is still far from the last train stop.
#13: Follow the train’s guidelines on pet carriers
As you know, trains can be pretty crowded sometimes…
That’s why it’s best to put your Chihuahua in a pet carrier. And make sure you follow the train’s rules regarding carriers.
Most trains require a hard or soft-sided carrier. The most important is that it is leak-proof and well-ventilated.
The weight and size of the carrier must be considered as well. Amtrak requires that the pet and the carrier do not exceed 20 pounds.
The Amtrak also considers a pet carrier one carry-on baggage.
#14: Keep your documents handy and secure all paperwork
As with traveling by car, or plane, you need your dog’s health documents with you.
The train staff may ask for the documents before they check you in.
In Amtrak, you will sign a Pet Release and Indemnification Agreement before you get on the train.
Get all the paperwork done and enjoy the trip.
7 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by bus
#15: Choose the best bus line that board pets
Traveling by bus requires planning as well. So do your homework days in advance.
Search online for a bus line that is pet-friendly. Even better (for maximum certainty) – make calls.
Inquire whether the bus line allows pets onboard.
Chances are the bus that allows pets has rules and regulations, so you should know about them.
On the day of departure, keep your Chihuahua’s papers handy.
This is important if you’re traveling to another state. Or crossing international borders.
#16: Bring a carrier fit for a bus
Take into account your Chihuahua’s comfort once you’re on the bus.
It means using a carrier where your dog can feel comfortable and safe.
If you’re paying for a seat for your Chihuahua, be prepared to pay extra. However, some bus lines require that owners carry their pet (not allowed on the seat).
For your bus trip, keep toys and treats accessible. Or put the toys and a blanket inside the carrier to entertain your Chi.
You may also have your Chihuahua wear a doggie diaper to avoid accidents.
#17: Ready the number of 24-hour vet clinics for emergencies
I know you always hope that nothing happens to your Chihuahua.
But it’s better to be prepared for anything.
Before your departure, save in your phone the contact numbers of vet clinics in your destination.
Or write the information on a piece of paper. Make sure you don’t lose this paper.
Should any canine emergency occur, you know who to call in a heartbeat.
#18: Exercise them before starting the bus ride
Before putting them inside a carrier, exercise your Chihuahua.
Take a walk at the bus station. Or around the bus stop at least 30 minutes before the bus departure. It will help them settle down once in the carrier.
Remember: If you tire your Chihuahua, they’ll end up sleeping in the bus. It prevents any chances of crying or barking, which could annoy other passengers.
#19: Let them look out the window
Secure a window seat if you can.
And since you’re carrying your pet, you can have them look outside.
Doing so will reduce motion sickness.
#20: Be polite and considerate
On buses, you’ll get to ride with people from all walks of life.
And whether you like it or not, not all people will be dog lovers.
The best thing you can do is be polite to everyone.
If you’re going to sit beside another passenger, ask permission. Let them know you have a Chihuahua with you.
Should they disagree, simply respect their decision. They could be uncomfortable around animals.
Or they could be suffering from pet allergies or even phobia.
#21: Sit near the back of the bus
This is out of courtesy for other passengers.
Since your Chihuahua is in a carrier, it could bother people getting on or off the bus.
Imagine you’re sitting by the aisle and the person next to you has to disembark.
Sitting near the back also keeps your Chihuahua away from the passengers. Thus, you can avoid chances of your Chi barking at strangers.
This is also important if you’re disembarking last. Sitting at the back means not being disturbed by other people.
You and your Chihuahua can catch some z’s in peace.
3 tips to travel with your Chihuahua by plane
#22: Ready pet passports and all paperwork
Traveling with your Chihuahua by plane requires different preparations.
First, you need to get a pet passport. Get this sorted out long before the date of your departure.
This is to allot enough time for vaccinations or treatments. Your pet has to complete this step before the vet can issue a health certificate.
Did you know that there were 91,661 passports issued in 2017 in the UK?
Aside from the passport, get all the health documents and certificates ready. If you need to complete paperwork, do so in advance.
#23: What to do before booking the flight
It’s not simple to book a flight if you’re traveling with a Chihuahua.
Instead of booking online, call the airlines. Ask them what flight allows a pet onboard.
If they have a flight that does, inform them you’re taking a dog with you. Tell them the breed, the size and weight, and how many.
Make sure to ask for other policies regarding bringing pets onboard.
Then book the flight.
#24: What to do before crating your Chihuahua
Where do airlines keep pets in an airplane?
It depends on the airline’s policies. So it’s either you get to keep your Chihuahua with you, or they are in a crate and will be kept in the cargo hold.
If they allow your Chi with you, that’s great news! But if not, then hope for the best that your Chi will be okay throughout the flight.
Pancho the Chihuahua is proof that traveling by plane can be stress-free:
If your Chi will be at the cargo hold, remember these things:
First, ensure that your Chihuahua is wearing their collar and tag.
Second, have them go potty immediately before crating them. The crate must have a label bearing your dog’s name, your name, your contact numbers, and address.
Third, check that your Chihuahua’s water bottle is affixed to the crate door.
If it will be your Chi’s first time in the cargo hold, have them prepared weeks before departure. To reduce fear and anxiety, train them to be relaxed when confined.
It also helps to desensitize your dog to loud noises. You can do this by playing a sound recording of airplanes at a low sound. Then gradually increase the volume as your dog gets used to the sound.
This can take time, that’s why your Chi needs the training long before departure.
You can also put your Chi in an anxiety wrap to reduce stress while flying.
Caution: If you’re considering giving your dog a supplement to help them calm down during the travel, consult with the airlines first. Remember, they don’t accept sedated pets. They have the final say if using a supplement for your dog is allowed. Once they give the go signal, talk to your vet so your dog can do a trial at home to determine the correct dosing for the supplement.
Read further: Flying With A Chihuahua: 13 Must-Read Tips + Cost Breakdown
5 tips to travel with your Chihuahua puppy
#25: Prepare them for a long trip
Some dogs quickly take on road trips. Others take time to get used to it.
It isn’t right to put your Chihuahua in a new car, booster seat, or crate on the day of your trip. For them to love traveling, give them a lot of practice runs.
And this should start from their puppyhood.
Aside from car trips to the vet, take them traveling to the dog park. Or a nearby pond or lake or to a friend’s house.
If you’ll go to the convenience store or pet store, take them with you.
Also, potty train them so that they don’t pee or poop inside the moving car.
Let them get used to their carrier or crate as well. By the time you’re going traveling, they have already been comfortable in it.
#26: Have them microchipped
A microchip is a useful device that contains all your contact information.
This will help you reunite with your Chihuahua in case they get lost (perish the thought!).
Discuss it with your vet so you can arrange for the procedure.
A microchip is as small as a grain of rice. There’s no need for surgeries here. It is injected between your dog’s shoulder blades.
After the procedure, register to the national pet recovery database.
#27: Plan your destination
In light of the current pandemic, it helps to plan your destination.
As much as possible, stay away from crowded places. Also, avoid the areas where there is a high number of COVID-19 cases.
It also helps to do some research about your destination. Find out the quarantine rules so that you know what to expect.
Note: Don’t forget to maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. That goes for your Chihuahua, too. Keep them 6 feet away from another person. The World Health Organization says that there is no evidence that animals can transmit COVID-19 to humans. But some people who are misinformed may think that your dog can be a carrier of the virus. So observe precautionary measures for everybody’s peace of mind.
#28: Bring a squeegee
Your Chihuahua doesn’t shed as much as a German Shepherd or Husky does.
But admit it, seeing hair everywhere can be frustrating.
A window squeegee will be your best friend when it comes to removing hair.
Be it from hotel carpets or car seat upholstery, this tiny tool will do the job. It’s small, so you can just throw it in with the rest of your dog’s things.
#29: Take frequent breaks
A small dog like a Chihuahua has a small bladder.
It means they will need more bathroom breaks than you do.
If you’ll be traveling by plane: There are only 2 options, and both involve the use of pee pads. First, bring your dog to the airplane bathroom if you think they’re about to pee.
Place a pee pad on the floor where your Chi can pee.
Second, ensure that their carrier is lined with pee pads in case of accidents. A pee pad will help cleaning up easier.
If traveling by bus or train, you can take your dog to the bathroom.
There are also preventative measures you can do before getting on the plane, bus, or train. One, don’t give them water 2 hours before departure.
Two, consider having them wear a doggie diaper. But this will only be successful if you have trained your dog to like wearing a diaper.
If you’re traveling by car, stop by gas stations or rest stops.
Business Wire recommends stopping every 3 hours for a break. Have your Chihuahua go potty, get some fresh air, and play.
Thirty minutes of rest will do your pooch some good.