CHIHUAHUA: HEALTH

Although Chihuahuas are much more resilient than their small size would suggest, they are fragile nonetheless. The health of your Chihuahua depends on regular care, a suitable diet, and a living environment that allows them to expend all their energy.

Chihuahua Health: Strengths

Despite their small size, Chihuahuas have a pretty robust constitution. They have a life expectancy of up to 15 years, and some even live to the age of 20! They require very little maintenance since they take great pride in keeping themselves clean.

Your Chihuahua's health is dependent on their food bowl: they need a rich, balanced diet to provide them with sufficient caloric intake. The size of their food must take into account the small size of their jaw while promoting good dental hygiene. Regular grooming and protection from cold temperatures will also help to keep this little dog healthy.

Chihuahua Health: Weaknesses

The narrowness of their jaw causes very sensitive teeth; the Chihuahua’s fragile teeth are known for being their Achilles’ heel. Daily brushing can prevent many dental problems, but it's sometimes necessary to resort to a medicated diet or chewable dog treats to prevent the formation of tartar. Unfortunately, your Chihuahua is not infallible.

One of the most common illnesses among Chihuahuas is hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemic attacks are more common in younger or smaller dogs. An adapted diet and frequent meals can help to prevent seizures. Owners are advised to always have some honey on hand, especially when out for walks.

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What Diseases Are Chihuahuas Prone To?

Luxating Patella

Patellar luxation (PL) is a fairly common genetic disorder in small dogs in which poor development of the ridges forming the patellar groove causes the kneecap to dislocate or slip out of its natural position.

A slipped kneecap can be painful. The affected Chihuahua holds its flexed paw above the ground until the quadriceps muscle relaxes and elongates, after which the animal feels no discomfort and can continue with their activity. Depending on the severity of the dislocation and its impact on your dog's quality of life, you may need to consider surgery.

Tracheal Collapse

Very common in Chihuahuas, tracheal collapse is due to the incomplete formation or weakening of the cartilaginous rings of the trachea, resulting in the flattening of the trachea. It can be congenital or acquired, and extrathoracic or intrathoracic (outside or inside the chest cavity).

Symptoms include coughing, exercise intolerance, respiratory distress, and choking when eating. This disorder is thought to be caused by a deficiency of glycosaminoglycans, glycoproteins, calcium, and chondroitin in the tracheal ring cartilage. It often develops as a result of Cushing's syndrome, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, or infection.

Molera

This is one of the main health problems for Chihuahuas. Also known as a "fontanelle", this anatomical disorder affects between 80 and 90% of the breed, with a higher frequency in apple-headed Chihuahuas. This anomaly is characterised by a "hole" on the top of the dog's skull, the same as the fontanelle found in human babies.

Most puppies are born with a "hole" in their skull. The different bones then join together after birth using cartilaginous sutures. According to a study from 1989, a Chihuahua with a dome-shaped skull and a molera would not be any more likely than another to develop hydrocephalus.

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