The Chihuahua is generally a very healthy breed of dog. The are not prone to many illness or defects, and have one of the longest expected life spans of any breed. While the Chihuahua is a relatively healthy breed of dog, there are common risk factors associated with any breed of dog, and the Chihuahua is no exception.
To ensure that your Chihuahua's health is kept at the highest level, it is important to be aware of some common Chihuahua health problems. Virtually all Apple-head Chihuahuas are born with a soft spot on their skull called a Molera, or Fontanel. This is the same soft spot that human babies are born with so that the head can pass through the birth canal without putting too much pressure on the brain. In most Chihuahuas the molera will close up completely by adult hood, but some never completely close. The open molera or fontanel is not a defect, more like a Chihuahua trait or characteristic. They can die if they get hit in the molera, so precautions should be taken. Years ago some breeders and owners did not consider a Chihuahua a true Chihuahua unless it had the open Molera or Fontanel.
Another disorder that is common among chihuahuas and other toy breeds is called the "Reverse Sneeze" or "Backwards Sneeze"which sounds like snorting, honking, wheezing, and well...sneezing. No one knows the exact cause, it could be from sinus infection, small trachea, maybe an elongated soft palate that has become temporarily misaligned. What ever the cause it is more common in dogs with Brachycephalic heads or skulls. That is heads that are broad and short, such as the Chihuahua, Boston Terrier, Shih Tzu, Pekingese This is a common affliction among most small toy breeds. A bout of reverse sneezing can be caused by many different things: eating, drinking too fast, playing, pulling on their leash (harnesses are recommended for Chihuahuas, not collars), or it can simply happen out of the blue. Reverse sneezing is a bit alarming to witness at first, but it is really nothing to worry about. Most bouts only last a minute or so, and you can speed things along by massaging their throat or by simply distracting them.
Hypoglycemia in Chihuahuas is very common and can range in severity from very mild (so that it barely affects them) to severe cases, that can be fatal. Hypoglycemia is a condition that affects humans as well. It is caused when the dogs blood-sugar level drops to a below normal level, causing weakness, seizures, and even death. When the blood-surgar levels in the dog's body drop rapidly, the dog's brain is deprived of essential nutrients. In emergency situations, you can try to get them to something with sugar in it (not chocolate), like jelly or syrup. Making sure your Chihuahua eats regularly is the best defense. I do what is called free feeding, where a bowl of food is accessible to my dogs at all times, this is especially true if they are puppies. I am fortunate in that my dogs do not overeat so they do not have weight issues. If regular feedings are not helping your Chihuahua, you can supplement their diet with a high-calorie mix called Nutrical. Visit our store to purchase, or your local veterinarian.
A Cherry Eye is another possible hereditary trait that some Chihuahuas and many other dog breeds get. While many vets are convinced it is genetic, many do not. The Chihuahuas eyes are so protruding, and they are so low to the ground that foreign objects can easily injure their eyes. Also there is some possibility of a virus causing cherry eye. While not common in the Chihuahua breed it does happen. Cherry Eye is not a life threatening condition and is more unsightly than anything else. Sometimes simple steroid eye drops can fix the problem. There is a technique for massaging the cherry eye back into place and it perhaps getting it to stay put. This is a breeders option, meaning that hopefully with selective breeding "cherry eye" will not show up again with a different mating pair.
Surgical treatments are available to correct the Cherry Eye problem with a high success rate, but they can be quite expensive considering the condition is not a life threatening or debilitating one. If you are looking for a home remedy for Cherry Eye you can try placing a warm moist cloth over your dogs eye everyday for 3 weeks to a month. This remedy will most likely not fix the problem entirely but you can expect to see major reduction in swelling using this technique. For more information about Cherry Eye visit this very informative article written by Linda Cole of Responsible Pet Ownership called What Causes Cherry Eye and How to Correct It.
TEETH Nearly 3/4 of all Chihuahuas will develop some sort of dental problem before the age of 4. It is mostly due to their small mouths and those with the shorter muzzles are even more prone to it. The teeth become crowded which leads to problems. Proper oral care is a must with Chihuahuas. Food gets stuck on the teeth and between their teeth. Brushing your dog's teeth regularly is necessary.
cleaning. You can purchase dental kits that usually include a mirror, a probe explorer, a scaler, a shepherd's hook explorer. You can also use a child's electric toothbrush. There are also water additives to add to their drinking water, which contain antibacterial enzymes which inhibit odor causing microbes and plaque formation.Get a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs for starters. There are also finger brushes to get your dog and yourself acquainted to teeth
Regular brushing and giving your Chis raw bones will aid in keeping their teeth clean, but you will probably need to have their teeth cleaned professionally by your vet, at your vets recommended schedule.
Dental care is important, not only will their breath smell better, it will promote a longer, healthier life. Your vet may have to pull some teeth as well. This is really important as the puppy teeth especially the incisors, may not fall out and make room for the adult teeth causing more crowding in an already small mouth.
Gum disease in your Chi can lead to destruction of other vital organs, especially the heart, leading to stoke and heart attacks. Take good care of their teeth!
A neutered male is generally more healthy than an unaltered male, as he is less likely to develop prostrate problems and neutering virtually eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.