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Car Sickness and Your Chihuahua

Car Sickness and Your Chihuahua

Car Sickness and Your Chihuahua

The Unpleasant Reality

Car sickness is a very unpleasant reality for those owners who have to deal with it.  The picture we have in our heads of the happy, bouncy dog hanging his head out the window is not the typical car ride for many dog owners.  Chihuahuas are certainly not immune to the ailment.

There are two basic reasons that dogs become car sick:  motion sickness related to inner ear issues; and anxiety.  There are steps you can take that will help your dog combat the nausea associated with travel and there are certain things you can do to help yourself get through a trip with a nauseous Chi.

Motion Sickness

Illness associated with motion affects puppies more than adult dogs due to the fact that young dogs tend to have less developed inner ear structures.  The inner ear is responsible for balance and when motion affects these structures the dog can feel off balance resulting in nausea.

Some puppies will outgrow motion sickness but others remain susceptible for their entire life.  Learning to deal with the symptoms of car sickness is sometimes the only alternative you have as a Chi owner.

Some Chis will not actually vomit during travel but other symptoms will indicate nausea.  Watch out for drooling, lethargy or excitability, yawning or lip licking.  Any or all of these signs may be present and may show that your Chi feels ill and could vomit.

There is not much you can do to prevent motion sickness but you can try to help your Chi have a better trip.  Avoiding food or water for several hours before you plan to travel may help.  The idea is that nothing in means nothing out.  Your Chi may still feel sick but they may not make a mess in your car.

There are medical options that you can try if you have a Chi who suffers from car sickness.  Dramamine or Gravol can be given to dogs but check with your veterinarian for the correct dose for the weight of your Chi.  There are also anti-nauseants available in prescription form from your vet.  With any medicine it is a good idea to try the dose on a short journey before you plan to undertake a long car trip.  Assessing your dog’s reaction to the medication is important in case you need to adjust the dose or the amount of time the medicine will take to be effective.


Some dogs simply become so anxious when they are in a car that they literally make themselves sick.  The signs and symptoms are the same as those dogs who suffer from motion sickness and the same medications will be effective.

Behavioural adjustments may also help anxious dogs.  Trying to get your Chi accustomed to the car gradually may help ease anxiety.  Try sitting in your car without it running and talk soothingly to your Chi while giving yummy treats.  The next step is to turn on the car but don’t go anywhere.  Gradually begin to take your Chi on very small car rides – to the end of the street is enough.

Each step of this program is meant to condition your Chi to the car and make him or her see that the car is a fun and friendly place.  Going slow is extremely important so that your pet has time to lose their fear before moving on to the next step.

There are also over the counter products to try that help calm your Chi while travelling.  Ask for products like Rescue Remedy at your local pet store and see if they have a positive effect on your Chihuahua’s anxiety.

Avoiding the Mess

When you have tried everything else sometimes all you can do is avoid a big cleanup.  Using a crate while travelling helps contain the mess but often leaves your Chi in need of a bath and long haired Chihuahuas often come out worse than those with shorter coats.

Have plenty of towels on hand to clean up the inevitable.  Cover your seats and the floor of your car with blankets or plastic to make messes easier to deal with.  Trying to make your life easier will mean that you are less likely to lose your temper with your Chi when motion sickness does set in. 

Car trips are often inevitable but if your Chi suffers from car sickness taking them on a long term journey may not be possible.  In some cases a kennel is a better option.


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