The Chihuahua. Few dogs generate such powerful emotions as this little guy. From owners that love them more than anything to the non-owner who flat out dislikes them.
How can 7lbs of nervous energy, ego, and enormous heart invoke so much controversy? I don’t have the answer, sorry. But I do have the answer to the most common Chihuahua health issues and what you can do to prevent them.
On average, a healthy Chihuahua can live well past their 16th birthday, which is good for a dog. But like all dog breeds, they are susceptible to some common illnesses.
It seems strange that your Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed and very fragile, yet has one of the longest lifespans of any dog breed. They might be fragile, yet they have a tremendous constitution and are very resilient to illness.
So let’s dive into the most common health problems that may affect your Chihuahua and look for the answers to prevent them.
Chihuahua Health Issues
Let me say right away that not all Chihuahuas will suffer from these illnesses.
1. Periodontal Disease
This not only affects Chihuahuas. But it’s accurate to say small dogs suffer from this more than medium to large dogs. There are a lot of teeth vying for space in such a small mouth. This leads to overcrowding, which makes it easier for plaque and tartar build-up.
Dental health is tremendously important. If you see yellow stains beginning to appear, or his breath smells rancid, take him to the vets. Your Chihuahua might need a dental cleaning. Sometimes vets will remove some teeth to make more room in their mouths to reduce the risk.
Try to brush his teeth every day and give him dental chews that will scrape off the tartar build-up.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your Chihuahua’s blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than it should be. If your Chihuahua exhibits symptoms such as dizziness, lethargy, tiredness, or tremors, the cause may be hypoglycemia.
If any of these symptoms become apparent, take your Chi to the vet immediately. It might be a sign of a serious illness, like kidney or liver disease. If after visiting the vet he finds no underlying illnesses then your Chihuahua might just be prone to hypoglycemia, if that’s the case, make sure he eats little and often to keep his blood sugar stable.
3. Trachea Collapse
The trachea is the tube that takes air to the lungs. When it collapses the shape of the tube flattens out, making it difficult for air to pass through. This makes it difficult for a Chihuahua to breathe. The illness affects many Chihuahuas.
The condition can be reversed by surgery. But it’s not known why so many dogs have this debilitating illness. Look for a bluish tinge to your Chihuahua’s gums, breathlessness, an aversion to exercise and a cough can also be present.
After surgery, the condition can reappear, so you need to do your best to reduce the risk of this happening. Don’t allow your dog to become obese, switch to a harness if you previously used a collar. And try to avoid environmental irritants as much as possible.
4. Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis
This is very serious and can lead to the death of a Chihuahua. They are prone to this disease, so you need to know about it. The disease is an inflammation of the brain causing lesions to form; it prevents the dog from functioning normally.
It will affect different regions of the brain, so symptoms can be different, but a Chihuahua will experience seizures, blindness, a weakening in the limbs, and paralysis. Any of these symptoms are tremendously serious, and the Chihuahua must go to a vet immediately.
Hydrocephalus means “water on the brain” and is where the cerebrospinal fluid builds up either inside the brain or between the brain and the Chihuahua’s skull. The dog’s skull will enlarge and create immensely painful pressure.
Usually, the symptoms will show within a few weeks of the Chihuahua’s birth. Affected puppies are usually smaller than the rest of the litter and will exhibit unusual behavior. Such as pushing their heads against the wall and seizures.
In most cases, the symptoms will get progressively worse, leading to death. Yet, Chihuahuas with less severe symptoms can survive. Treatment is difficult and involves medication to reduce the swelling and sometimes surgery.
6. Luxating Patella
Luxating patella is a knee condition affecting many dog breeds, not just the Chihuahua. But small dogs, like the Chihuahua, are more susceptible than medium to large breeds.
The patella is the circular bone which sits on the front of the kneecap, luxating, means “out of place”. The condition refers to the kneecap moving out of place.
It will affect how your dog can walk. Usually, vets grade the condition from 1 to 4. 4 being where the patella is out of position permanently. The pain and discomfort for your Chihuahua will cause him to lose the use of his leg.
Surgery is will correct this for your Chihuahua by deepening the grooves on the dog’s femur to stop the patella slipping out.
7. Pulmonic Stenosis
Pulmonic Stenosis is a congenital heart disease whereby the blood is not flowing through the Chihuahua’s heart in the way it should. It compromises the pulmonic heart valve, making the heart work much harder than it should have to.
Chihuahuas suffer from this in different degrees of severity. From mild, requiring dietary changes, to full surgery. If it’s not discovered in time, it can lead to severe consequences for the Chihuahua.
Even though we have discussed many illnesses, some of them very serious, most Chihuahuas live a long and healthy life.
Be aware these diseases exist and monitor your Chihuahua. Feed him the best diet you can, attend to his dental needs, take him for regular health checks, and even though small, he will need exercise every day.
If you do all of this, you might not need to stress over the most common Chihuahua health issues.
As a kid, I grew up with lots of dogs in my family. My earliest recollection was a Labrador mix called Bruce, and I must have only been about three years old.
When I was around seven, we began to move around frequently, so having a dog was very difficult until we adopted a baby long-haired Dachshund. I was thirteen by then. We called him Pepe; I have no idea why; all I can say was it wasn’t my idea. But he did seem to grow into the name.
I’ve personally been the parent of a Great Dane called Lady, a French Bulldog we called Spike. I have also had the privilege of being the parent of one of the gorgeous cats on the planet; a British Blue Shorthair called Ellie. Right now, we have an amazing little Havanese in our family; we call Biscuit; he’s four years old.
I pride myself on being the very best dog-parent I can be. I refuse to bring a dog into my life without investing as much time as possible to understand that dog’s particular needs. Every dog I have parented has been an experience, and they are all different with incredible personalities.
To understand dogs as much as possible, I have taken several courses regarding dog care and training. The most recent course is The Truth About Cats And Dogs, offered by The University Of Edinburgh.
My dogs and cat have been the funniest and most unique animals I have ever been privileged to spend my life with. They can teach human beings so much if we take the time to watch and listen to them. My ambition is to share what I have learned with other passionate dog lovers.
I am obsessed with writing and researching everything I can about dog health, care, psychology, and finding the best dog products available to help ensure a dog’s life is as happy and contented as possible.