Tips on Raising a Healthy Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed in the world and unfortunately this means they're likely to develop some unique health problems down the road that other dogs may not have. A healthy Chihuahua, though, can live to be over 15 years old, which is why it should be every owners top priority to understand what this breed needs to stay happy and healthy.
One of the first things you'll want to do after getting a Chihuahua is to schedule a veterinarian appointment for them. On the initial visit, they will do a thorough checkup to make sure there are no serious health issues with your Chihuahua and possibly give booster shots if needed. Typically, Chihuahuas require their first set of booster shot at 6 to 8 weeks of age and will continue to receive them every so often (depending on the advice of your vet) until they are about a year old. After that, your Chihuahua should only need to go once every 1 to 3 years to be re-vaccinated with the core booster shots.
The Importance of Booster Shots
If you allow your Chihuahua to go without their booster shots, they are at risk for catching one of many dangerous, possibly life threatening diseases. Booster shots work by introducing small amounts of a specific virus or bacterial product into your Chihuahuas system. Once it's in their system, your Chihuahua will begin to produce antibodies from the vaccine, causing them to develop an immunity towards the disease.
Since booster shots expose your Chihuahua to a small amount of a virus or bacteria, some people question whether or not they are safe. There are reports of owners saying that vaccinations have caused their Chihuahua to develop numerous health problems ranging from itchy skin to death. While there is no concrete evidence linking vaccinations to these health, giving your Chihuahua unnecessary vaccines should be avoided. Talk to your veterinarian and inform them about your Chihuahuas lifestyle and home environment. Based on that information, they should be able to tell you which vaccines are needed and which ones aren't.
Serious Illnesses Prevented From Booster Shots
- Distemper is one of the most deadly infectious diseases that Chihuahuas are susceptible to. It attacks the skin, mucus membranes, and brain.
- Also known as kennel cough, bordatella is a highly contagious disease that causes inflammation in the trachea and bronchi.
- Spread through feces, the parvovirus is the most common infectious disease of dogs in the U.S.
- Hepatitus is a disease that causes inflamation of the liver and is spread through a virus and is caused by canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1)
- Spread through rats and other animals, leptospirosis is an disease that can infect both humans and animals.
- Lyme disease is caused from bacteria that is spread through tick bites.
- Similar to kennel cough, parainfluenza is a virus that causes acute inflammation of the upper respiratory system.
- Rabies is a contagious viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain and can be fatal if left untreated.
Worms - Treating and Preventing Them
Worms are essentially parasites that get inside your Chihuahua to feed. There are different types of worms such as hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. All worms pose a serious health risk for Chihuahuas and some can even infect humans, which is why it's important to treat and prevent them.
Since some types of worms can be passed to the puppy from the mother during pregnancy, it's not uncommon for Chihuahuas to be born with them. Ask your vet to check your Chihuahua out for worms. This can be done by taking a blood and stool sample, and if any are found, they will be able to place your Chihuahua on a de-worming medication to help rid their system of the parasites. Also, be sure to talk to your vet and ask them what heartworm preventative medicine they recommend for your Chihuahua.
Feeding Your Chihuahua
Remember the old adage that goes "you are what you eat"? Well, the same goes for Chihuahuas. Feeding them the proper food and keeping them nourished will help your Chihuahua grow and stay healthy.
What Type of Food Should I Feed My Chihuahua?
When your Chihuahua is still a puppy, they will need to be on a special puppy formula which contains extra protein and nutrients. Ask your Chihuahuas breeder what type of formula they were using and use it in the same amounts. This will avoid upsetting your Chihuahuas stomach by introducing a new type of formula.
Once your Chihuahua is about a year old, you'll want to begin feeding them adult dog food. If there's one thing you shouldn't try to save a penny on, it's dog food. You should always get a premium brand, high quality dog food that consists of mostly of meat and vegetables with no filler products.
How Often Should I feed My Chihuahua?
With most dog breeds, you can simple fill up their food bowl twice a day and let them eat as they please. Chihuahuas, though, are smaller than other dogs and require special attention when it comes to feeding them. The back of their food bag should have instructions on how often you should feed a dog based on their weight, but you should still bring the topic up to your vet and ask them what they recommend. Remember, no one knows your Chihuahua better than you and their vet.
Can I Feed My Chihuahua Table Food?
Absolutely not! Simple foods that we eat all the time can be deadly to a Chihuahua, which is why they should never be given any types of table food. Grapes, raisins, garlic, and onions are just a few types of foods that can cause serious health problems to a small Chihuahua.
Feeding your Chihuahua table food, or just overfeeding them, can lead them to develop obesity, and while having an overweight Chihuahua might seem funny to some people, it's a serious health concern that should be addressed. If your Chihuahua becomes overweight, they are at risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and a whole slew of other dangerous diseases.
Hydrating Your Chihuahua
Just as we need water to live, so do Chihuahuas. You shouldn't limit your Chihuahua on how much water they can drink a day. Keep a full bowl of water around for them to drink at all times. This will keep them from being dehydrated, which can lead to serious health problems on its own.
Exercising Your Chihuahua
Even though they are small in size, Chihuahuas still require daily exercise in order to strengthen their muscles, prevent obesity, and remain healthy overall. You don't have go play fetch with them in the backyard for 2 hours, though. Typically, they will get enough exercise from playing and running around indoors and being walked at least once a day.
Health Problems Associated With Chihuahuas
When compared to other breeds, Chihuahuas typically have fewer health defects. Here are some of the most common health issues found in Chihuahuas:
- One of the most common health defects in Chihuahuas, patella luxation is when their patella joint loosens and begins to slip, oftentimes causing them to have to walk while holding up one of their back legs. A skilled veterinarian should be able to check your Chihuahuas knee to ensure they aren't developing this condition.
- Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is one of the most serious health issues associated with Chihuahuas. When a Chihuahuas glucose levels are depleted, it can cause drowsiness, trembling, seizures, comas, and even death. Make sure your Chihuahua is getting the amount of nutrition they need and always look for signs of early symptoms, such as trembling, weakness, and appearing lethargic.
- Chihuahuas, like most small dog breeds, are susceptible to oral health problems, such as plaque, tarter build up, and premature tooth loss. Giving your dog milk bones and dental dog chews will help prevent this, but you should still get your Chihuahuas teeth cleaned at the Veterinarian as needed.