Details about the Chihuahua Dog’s Health
The average life expectancy of a Chihuahua is between 10 and 18 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
These tiny dogs are remarkably healthy and sturdy considering their size, but they are known to suffer from certain hereditary and congenital disorders that are worth knowing about if you are hoping to share your home with one of them. The health issues that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
- Patella luxation
- Hydrocephalus (Fluid Buildup inseide Skull)
- Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar)
- Eye infections and injuries to the eye
- Ear problems
- Puppies are born with a molera (fontanelle)
Chihuahuas are the only breed that’s born with an underdeveloped skull which as a result is not completely formed. It is only as puppies grow that their skulls finish developing and as such care should be taken during the first few months of their lives to avoid injuring a puppy. Many vets who are not familiar with the breed as well as inexperienced breeders often confuse a skull that’s not fully developed with a condition which is known as Hydrocephalus.
Because Chihuahuas have such large eyes and because they are not very big dogs they are that much lower to the ground and as such they often get dirt, dust and debris in their eyes which can lead to a painful irritation. As a result, their eyes water which causes excessive tear staining. It’s a good idea to gently wipe a Chis eyes several times a day and to use a gentle barrier on the skin under their eyes to help reduce the risk of sores developing.
Chihuahuas have a tendency to shake and quiver when they are anxious, stressed out or excited about something. They shake when they are feeling the cold too which is why it’s important for these tiny dogs to wear a coat during the cooler winter months although they also quiver and shake when they are excited and happy too.
Chihuahuas have what is known as “brachycephalic skulls” and their heads are large which is why the bones that make up a dog’s skull have to “give” when puppies are born, hence their skulls are so soft when they are young. It is worth noting that Chihuahuas are not known to be good “whelpers” either.
Some Chihuahuas develop a habit of snorting when they are frightened, anxious or overexcited which can be a little disconcerting to new owners. When examined and correctly diagnosed by a vet, this does not typically present being a serious health concern.
Some Chis develop problems with the outer edges of their ears which if left untreated can turn into a more serious problem because the edges become scalloped. Once that happens there is not much that can be done to correct the problem. Chihuahuas with thinner ear flaps are more prone to the problem than dogs with thicker flaps and it’s during the spring and the autumn when dogs tend to shed the most that it really becomes a problem thanks to the fact that a dog’s pores are more likely to get blocked and therefore their ears get greasier than usual.
What about obesity problems?
Chihuahuas are not normally greedy dogs by nature, but if they are fed too much food and not given the right amount of daily exercise which should include playing indoor interactive games, they are prone to putting on too much weight. If a Chi becomes obese, it can shorten their lives by several years and they would be more at risk of developing serious health issues.
What about allergies?
As previously mentioned, Chihuahuas can suffer from skin problems on the outer edges of their ears which need to be treated sooner rather than later to avoid any damage being done to the skin which could result in a dog’s ears becoming scalloped, uneven and quite unsightly.
Recognising health issues in Chihuahuas
Because Chihuahuas are such small dogs, it is extremely important to recognise when a pet might be feeling under the weather or when they might be developing some sort of health issue. The sooner a problem is noticed and a Chi is examined by a vet, the better. Below is a checklist worth noting about Chihuahuas which includes their normal body temperature:
- Normal body temperature of a Chihuahua (and other breeds) is anything between 101 and 102 degrees F (38.33 – 38.88 C)
- Eyes should be clear and bright. Some Chis have a little watery discharge which is perfectly normal, but should be gently cleaned several times a day to prevent tear staining. If the discharge is excessive or thick and discoloured or if there is any cloudiness in a dog’s eyes, a trip to the vet is necessary
- A Chis nose can be cool and moist although this may change depending on the weather and time of year. If a Chihuahuas nose is crusty, cracked or there is any sort of nasty discharge coming out of their nostrils, a trip to the vet is essential
- Chihuahuas can develop certain ear problems which is why it is important to check them regularly and to clean them when necessary to avoid any bacterial or yeast infections taking hold
- If a Chihuahua has laboured or rasped breathing or their breath smells very bad, it is essential to get them to the vet as a matter of urgency
Participating in Chihuahua health schemes
There are currently no veterinary DNA tests or veterinary screening programmes for Chihuahuas under the Assured Breeder Scheme, but potential buyers should always ask breeders about any health issues that are known to affect the breed.
The Kennel Club observes strict breeding restrictions in Chihuahuas which can be found on their site and which all potential buyers should be aware of. This includes the number of litters a dam has produced and her age.
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