Everything You Need to Know About Caring for a Chihuahua
Like every other pet animal, it is important to provide Chihuahuas with the best care possible to keep them happy and healthy. Here is a detailed guide to help you care for your little fur friend and make the most of your time together!
When talking about Chihuahuas, the most prominent aspect of their appearance that comes up is their small size. However, these energetic creatures don’t let their little demeanor get in the way of anything. These loyal, entertaining, and loving companions are always bursting with energy and personality!
While this active breed is known for its ability to adapt to any environment, it is important to provide it with the best care possible to keep it happy and healthy. Here is a detailed guide to help you care for your little fur friend and make the most of your time together!
Hydrocephalus is one of the most common diseases that Chihuahuas are prone to developing. It is a congenital defect that can cause cerebrospinal fluid to accumulate and put pressure on the brain. A swollen head is the most obvious symptom of the disease. While hydrocephalus cannot be completely cured, steroids and surgical shunts can be used to reduce the pressure of the fluid by moving it from your brain to the abdomen.
Another neurological disorder in Chihuahuas is fontanelle, in which the bony plates of the Chihuahua’s skull don’t fuse together properly. This results in a soft portion on the head. While Chihuahuas can lead normal lives with fontanelle, dog parents need to be extremely cautious while playing with them. A head injury in Chihuahuas with fontanelle can lead to death.
Like other dogs, Chihuahuas can also suffer from various health issues. Patellar luxation is a condition in which the kneecap of the dog slips out of place. Since Chihuahuas are quite small, they are more prone to this condition. While the patella sometimes slips back into position on its own, other times, surgery is required for patella repositioning.
Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia can be an issue in small pups like Chihuahuas. Shivering, trembling, listlessness, and slow movements are some clear signs of the disease. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to coma, convulsions, and even death. Therefore, it is important to look for signs of such common diseases in your pooch and take it to your vet immediately if you start noticing hypoglycemic symptoms.
If you start noticing that your Chihuahua is having trouble breathing or if it gets exhausted easily, it may be best to have a full medical workup done. These small dogs are prone to respiratory and heart issues, which can be managed by changing their exercise and eating habits.
When it comes to caring for a Chihuahua, socialization plays an important role in the process. The younger you socialize your doggy, the more like it is to grow up to be comfortable with strangers and fellow pets. Try to expose your pup to new sounds, sights, and people. When introducing your Chihuahua to new people, allow it to initiate the interaction. Additionally, don’t let new children pet your Chihuahua or give it doggy treats right away. Allow your pup to first become comfortable with the new human.
Enrolling Chihuahuas in puppy kindergarten classes can help you teach them how to interact with fellow pets. Since these little creatures are known to be quite unfriendly with other dogs, exposure to new pets will allow them to be more comfortable in varying environments.
The best time to enroll your Chihuahua into obedience training classes is when it is no longer a puppy. These classes will help it learn basic commands, become more comfortable socializing with other people and dogs, and finally turn it into a well-behaved adult dog. Remember that even though most Chihuahuas are often fast learners, some might not be so willing to obey. However, always try to remain firm yet patient with your little companion.
Along with other forms of training, it is also important to housetrain your Chihuahua, and it is quite easy! All you need to do is take your little pup outdoors regularly so that it understands that it is not supposed to eliminate inside the house.
Make sure to let your Chihuahua outside after playtime, naps, eating, and most importantly, before bedtime. Even if your Chihuahua eliminates inside the house, always clean up the mess without creating a fuss. Physically or verbally abusing or punishing the little creature will not teach it the right way, and instead, it may start fearing your presence.
If you want to prevent your Chihuahua from becoming a tiny terror, it is best to train it well and establish some ground rules in the house. Failing to set simple ground rules such as how your pup should wait to be fed or where it can sleep can turn it into an unruly tyrant with no incentive or desire to behave well.
The best form of exercise that dog owners can offer their little pet friends is letting them play and run in a dog park. This is not only a great way of keeping your Chihuahua healthy, but it also allows your pet to interact with other people and dogs.
While this is an essential part of taking care of your doggy, it is important that your companion is already well socialized prior to taking it to parks. Otherwise, the naturally unfriendly and aggressive nature of these small but energetic dogs can easily put a damper on the adventure you planned for it.
Moderate Level of Exercise
A Chihuahua is a pocket full of energy and excitement. However, Chihuahuas are known to expend their excitement in short bursts; they are not very keen about sustained exercise. Therefore, it is important that you recognize how much energy your Chihuahua has to play and run. You can take your little pup on short strolls. Over-exercising can cause injuries; make sure you end the exercise sessions before your Chihuahua feels exhausted.
Chihuahuas love their playtime! Whether it is fetch or any other exciting dog game, you can use it to build your pup’s interest and provide it with the necessary amount of exercise it needs. Indulge in frequent play sessions in your backyard that are manageable for you and your pet friend. Since the small size of a Chihuahua makes it easy prey for big birds such as hawks, make sure you supervise it at all times in the outdoors. Furthermore, the curious nature of Chihuahuas can lead them to escape if they get the chance.
Spaying / Neutering
Every pet parent should understand that desexing their pet one of the most important responsibilities they take on when they adopt a pet. It is the first step to increasing the quality of life for your Chihuahua. If you own a female Chihuahua, take her to a vet between the age of 2 and 3 months to get her spayed. If you own a male Chihuahua, get him neutered when he is between 2 and 6 months old.
Getting your pet spayed helps eliminate chances of ovarian cancer or pregnancy, stops the heat cycle from occurring, and reduces the risk of mammary tumors. Neutering, on the other hand, helps decrease the tendency of your Chihuahua to be aggressive, reduce or prevent his chances of diseases such as prostate infections and hernias, and increases his concentration.
No matter the age of your Chihuahua, it is important to get proper vaccinations for it. Core vaccines include canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, rabies, and canine adenovirus type 2. Non-core vaccines such as leptospirosis and Lyme disease are optional. Multiple factors, including the geographic location and the health of your dog, play an important role in determining how susceptible your pet Chihuahua will be to infection.
Parasites and worms can cause severe damage to a Chihuahua and even put its life in danger. Therefore, it is best to take your pet to the vet on a regular basis and give it preventative deworming medication. The age of your pet will determine how often you need to do this.
Remember that heartworm medication alone is not enough to get rid of all types of parasites. This is because Chihuahuas are prone to getting whipworms and tapeworms. While there are several over-the-counter medications available online and in pet stores for deworming your Chihuahua, consulting with a vet prior to treating your precious pooch is highly recommended.
Trimming the Nails
Since every Chihuahua’s nails grow quite quickly, it is important to regularly trim them to maintain hygiene. Trimming your Chihuahua’s nails once in a few weeks should be enough to keep them from growing long and clicking on your floor. If you feel like trimming your Chihuahua’s nails is a task that you are not comfortable performing, you can always take it to a vet or a groomer for it.
Cleaning the Eyes
Like every other dog, you might notice your Chihuahua’s eyes having discharge around them. Take a soft cloth and gently wipe the area around your pup’s eyes to remove the discharge. If you start noticing tear stains around your best friend’s eyes, take them to a local pet store to have them removed.
Cleaning the Ears
Ears are one part of the body that is often overlooked. In order to keep your Chihuahua’s ears clean, simply take a cotton ball, dip it in some ear-cleaning solution specially made for dogs, and wipe your pet’s ears with it. Never push the cotton ball inside the ears. If you see wax forming in the ears or your Chihuahua’s ears start smelling, clean them right away. If the ears look dry to you, you can apply a small amount of coconut or baby oil to them.
Checking the Body
When you take your Chihuahua to a groomer or taking care of its grooming needs, it is the best time for you to check its body for any abnormalities such as signs of inflammation like swelling or redness, bumps, or lumps. If you notice anything unusual, visit your vet right away for a complete medical workup.
Since Chihuahuas have a long, smooth, velvety coat that fits close to their body, they shed often. However, shedding can be easily managed. If your Chihuahua’s coat is smooth, make sure to brush it once a week. Long-coated pups need to be brushed more frequently, i.e., at least twice a week. Loose or dead hair can be removed using a fine-toothed flea comb, and tangled hair can be removed using a stainless steel comb.
If you brush your Chihuahua regularly, you may not have to bathe it very often. Usually, it is sufficient to give a Chihuahua a bath once every two months. However, if you notice that your pup is smelly, then give it a bath. Make sure to always use a dog-safe shampoo and lukewarm water for the bath.
Brushing the Teeth
Like many other small dog breeds, Chihuahuas tend to have dental issues. In order to maintain the dental health of your pooch, it is important that you focus on dental care. Brush your pet animal’s teeth several times a week. Brushing a Chihuahua’s teeth when it is a puppy is ideal as it can help it get comfortable with the grooming process. Make sure to always use toothpaste and toothbrushes that are specially made for dogs.
Quality Dry Dog Food
If you want your Chihuahua to look and feel good throughout its life, it is important to feed it a properly balanced diet. With so many dog food options available on the market today, it can become quite overwhelming to find the right type of food and treats for your fur child.
The general rule is to buy dry dog food with 30-33% protein content. Consuming high-salt foods regularly can cause heart and kidney issues in small dogs. It is best to consult with your Chihuahua breeder or vet for on-point recommendations on premium-quality dry pet food.
Overfeeding a Chihuahua
Whether it’s Chihuahuas or any other dog breed, obesity can cause major problems in them and have a negative impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Your Chihuahua’s energetic behavior might lead you to feed it more. However, make sure that you constantly monitor the weight of your pet animal and then feed it accordingly.
Since Chihuahuas are small in size, the occasional treat or table scrap can add a large number of calories in its daily life, eventually leading to obesity and other serious medical problems such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, arthritis, skin problems, and more.
Feeding human food to a pet animal is never a wise choice. Milk products, chocolates, grapes, onions, and cured meats are some foods that your Chihuahua should completely steer clear of. Milk products can cause diarrhea, chocolates are toxic for dogs and can cause tremors, hyperactivity, and diarrhea, grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs, and onions can cause extensive damage to red blood cells.
Since Chihuahuas are extremely small in size and have small stomachs, they are unable to consume large quantities of food at a time. Therefore it is important to give your Chihuahua small portions of food around every four hours. You can feed larger Chihuahuas around 2-3 times a day. Some factors to considering when deciding how often you should feed your Chihuahua include the medical needs, activity level, and age of your dog!
In order to check if your Chihuahua is exhibiting physical symptoms of dietary-related issues, you need to carry out regular checks. One of the most obvious indicators of medical issues is obesity. Dry, flaky, or oily skin is also one of the indicators of dietary problems. If you believe that your Chihuahua is medically troubled, take it to the vet right away to discuss any required dietary changes.
When you decide to adopt a dog like Chihuahua, you need to be ready to commit for a lifetime. Being a dog parent is way more complicated than simply feeding your pup and petting it. With all the aforementioned tips on caring for a Chihuahua, we hope that you will avoid any mistakes and keep your little friend healthy and happy!
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