Chihuahua health problems
Small breeds such as Chihuahuas are particularly prone to developing dental diseases due to a very small jaw size, and consequent overcrowding of teeth, that makes the natural teeth cleaning process through chewing more difficult.
Since there is less space between teeth, plaque - containing bacteria - accumulates in inaccessible areas and it can result in gum disease and tooth loss.
Owners can train their pet to have the teeth brushed daily by using a purpose-made, meat-flavoured toothpaste which is available from pet shops and vet clinics. You can use a soft human toothbrush, or better still a special canine toothbrush, to sit over the owner’s finger for easy use.
Finally, regular vet checks will help to identify any development of dental disease early on and, if needed, dental scale and polish performed under general anaesthesia will achieve the best results for a healthy mouth.
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
This is a condition most likely found in Chihuahua puppies rather than adults and usually occurs after exercise, periods of excitement or after missing a meal. Signs of hypoglycaemia include lethargy, sleepiness, uncoordinated walking, unfocused eyes, fainting and seizures. Hypoglycaemia can be avoided with adequate nutrition and frequent feedings, especially for Chihuahuas that are younger, smaller, or leaner.
Chihuahua owners should have a simple sugar supplement on hand to use in emergencies, to be rubbed on the gums and roof of the mouth to rapidly raise the blood sugar level.
As in other breeds with large protruding eyes, Chihuahuas are prone to eye infections and eye injury as the eyes may water in response to dry air, dust, or airborne allergens.
The best way to prevent severe damage to the eyes is to recognize early signs of disease such as redness, squinting, watery eyes and pawing at the eyes. In these cases, promptly seeing the vet for an ophthalmologic examination can prevent further damage and chronicity of the disease.
Another important tip is to avoid the use of collars and instead use harnesses, to decrease pressure on the neck and consequently on the head and eyes.
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS or Dry Eye)
Another common condition in Chihuahuas is “dry eye” (also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS), in which there is a lack of tear production – the best way to prevent damage is a regular use of lubricating eye drops.
The trachea, or windpipe, pipes the air coming from the nose and mouth to the lungs and is made of a series of rings of cartilage. In Chihuahuas and other toy breeds, these cartilage rings are sometimes weak or abnormally formed, so they can collapse and obstruct the airflow.
This condition causes difficulty breathing, coughing and potentially fainting. There is no way to prevent this condition, but keeping your pet at a healthy weight and reducing exposure to airway irritants may help.
Breeds with a large head and small pelvis are more prone to difficulties during the birthing process. When the puppies head is bigger than the mum’s pelvis, C-section is required to prevent life-threatening situations.
Chihuahuas birthing will always present risks, but some of them may be prevented with few precautions. Breeders should always wait until the mum is 2-3 years of age before breeding, so that the pelvic region and hip-width are fully formed and at maximum width. Females should always be larger than the males they are bred with, to have a better chance to be able to deliver the puppies naturally.
In addition, genetic tests for the most common diseases in Chihuahuas are always recommended to avoid breeding individuals that will transmit these diseases to their litter.
Paying special attention to any health conditions that the breed is susceptible to is a vital part of responsible pet ownership, but unfortunately unforeseen events can always happen – check out our "Chihuahua insurance" page for more information on insuring your Chihuahua through our dog insurance policies.