Chihuahua Health

HEALTH: Chihuahuas have moleras, or a soft spot in their skulls, and they are the only breed of dog to be born with an incomplete skull. The molera fills in with age, but great care needs to be taken during the first six months until the skull is fully formed. Some moleras do not close completely and will require extra care to prevent injury. Many veterinarians are not familiar with Chihuahuas as a breed and mistakenly confuse a molera with hydrocephalus.[17]

Chihuahuas can also be at risk for hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, which is especially dangerous for puppies. Left unattended, hypoglycaemia can lead to coma and death but can be avoided with frequent feedings, such as every three hours for very small or young puppies. Chihuahua owners should have a simple sugar supplement on hand to use in emergencies, such as, Nutri-Cal, Karo syrup or honey. These supplements can be rubbed on the gums and roof of the mouth to rapidly raise the blood sugar level. Signs of hypoglycaemia include lethargy, sleepiness, low energy, uncoordinated walking, unfocused eyes and spasms of the neck muscles or head pulling back or to the side.

Chihuahuas are prone to eye infections or eye injury due to their large, round, protruding eyes and their relatively low ground clearance. Care should be taken to prevent visitors or children from poking the eyes. The eyes also water frequently to remove dust or allergens that may get into the eye. Daily wiping will keep the eyes clean and prevent tear staining.

Collapsed trachea is a health concern that is characteristic of the Chihuahua breed. It is a scary noise and sounds like Chihuahua has something stuck in his or her throat. The best way to fix this problem is by rubbing the Chihuahua’s throat or, alternatively, covering up the Chihuahua’s nose and forcing him or her to open the mouth, which will open its trachea again.

Chihuahuas have a tendency to tremble but it is not a health issue. Instead, it occurs mainly when the dog is stressed, excited or cold. Cold can also present a problem for these small animals. They often enjoy wearing coats or sweaters when outside and enjoy digging and snuggling in blankets when sleeping.

Chihuahuas outlive most other dogs and are known for a lifespan from 14-18 years. Because of this, a potential Chihuahua owner must be ready for an almost 20 year commitment.

Chihuahuas are sometimes picky eaters and care must be taken to provide them with adequate nutrition. Sometimes wet or fresh food can have the most appealing smell to these constant eaters. Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycaemia and could be at a critical state if allowed to go too long without a meal. At the same time, care must be exercised not to overfeed them.

Chihuahuas have a notorious problem with dental issues. Dental care is a must for these little creatures, brushing their teeth daily is recommended. Human food should be avoided. Due to their small size, even tiny high fat or sugary treats can result in an overweight Chihuahua. Overweight Chihuahuas are susceptible to increased rates of joint injuries, tracheal collapse, chronic bronchitis, and shortened life span.

Chihuahuas are also known for a genetic condition called 'luxating Patella,' a genetic condition that can occur in all dogs. In some dogs, the ridges forming the patella groove are not shaped correctly and a shallow groove is created. In a dog with shallow grooves, the patella will luxate or slip out of place, sideways. It causes the leg to 'lock up' and will force the Chihuahua to hold its foot off the ground. When the patella luxates from the groove of the femur, it usually cannot return to its normal position until the quadriceps muscle relaxes and increases in length, explaining why the affected dog may be forced to hold his leg up for a few minutes or so after the initial displacement. While the muscles are contracted and the patella is luxated from its correct position, the joint is held in the flexed or bent position. The kneecap sliding across the femur can cause some pain due to the bony ridges of the femur. Once out of position, the animal feels no discomfort and continues with activity.

Chihuahuas are also prone to some heart-related disorders, such as heart murmurs and pulmonic stenosis, a condition in which the blood outflow from the heart's right ventricle is obstructed at the pulmonic valve.