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Your Chihuahua’s Health

The Chihuahua is one of the longest lived breeds. There are very few health problems that exist and it is not uncommon to see a Chihuahua live to it’s late teens. Being aware of all breed related health problems from the day before you own your Chihuahua and you and your Chihuahua will have a long and happy life together.


Hypoglycemia is a condition where the blood sugar level drops to an extremely low level, causing ‘sugar shock.’ When levels of glucose in the blood drop rapidly, the body and brain are deprived of essential nutrients. Results are weakness and seizures. Usually this is due to stress, illness, lack of food, or by using up stored energy without it being replenished. Small Chihuahuas can be prone to this because they have such small digestive systems.

To prevent low blood sugar, small Chihuahuas should have small frequent meals and plenty of time to rest. Another preventative for this is to feed your dog Nutrical, available from your Veterinarian or your local pet store. Nutrical gives your dog the vitamins needed with a single inch strip in the morning and in the evening. Vanilla yogurt mixed in their food is also another good source.

There is not much warning when a dog is experiencing a hypoglycemic episode. The dog will appear tired, weak and sleepy in the beginning. The dog may also fall over, become unconscious or begin to seizure. When this happens rub Nutrical or Nutristat on the dog’s gums and the roof of it’s mouth, so that it is absorbed in the dog’s blood stream. Another good source of sugar is honey or Karo syrup. Keep the dog warm in a blanket or with a heating pad. You should see improvement in 15 to 30 minutes with the intake of sugar. However, it is always recommended to bring the dog to the veterinarian, as they may be in need of a glucose IV.

Each time a Chihuahua is threatened by hypoglycemia it takes much more to bring them out of it the next time. It is much easier to prevent hypoglycemia by always providing a readily available sugar supply, frequent meals and a warm bed, then to have to treat it once it happens.

Hypoglycemia can also be hereditary, so be sure to know about your dog’s lineage.

For more information, concerns and questions contact your veterinarian.

Did you know?

Feeding your dog a “more expensive” pet store brand of dog food can actually be less expensive? It’s true! Your dog will get more nutrients and vitamins in less food and will therefore eat less, making a small bag of food last a long time!

Hyprocephalus And The Molera

Hyprocephalus and the molera are not one in the same and should not be confused as so. The molera, a soft spot on the top of your Chihuahua’s head is similar to that of a new born human and is normal. This trait is unique to the Chihuahua breed. Hyprocephalus is the accumulation of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and is not at all normal, nor is it curable. It is also known as ‘water on the brain.’

When fluid accumulates on the brain, it compresses the brain against the skull. A Chihuahua puppy can be born with this disorder, or it can be caused by a brain infection.

Check the molera, making certain it is no larger than the tip of your little finger and that there is no swelling, bulging or throbbing, although, dog’s with a normal molera can still be hydrocephalic. Check carefully on the sides of the head for bone as well. Make sure there is no more then one molera, as this is not normal. Other signs include wide-set eyeballs, blindness, abnormal behavior, waling in circles, slowness (mental and physical), seizures, slow growing puppies and uncoordination. These signs may come and go or become worse over time. Concerns should only be answered by a licensed veterinarian.

Diagnosis is based on the signs in conjunction with techniques to image the brain. In dogs with a fontanel (molera), ultrasound can be performed by scanning through the fontanel to detect the excessive accumulation of fluid within the brain. Unfortunately, there is no cure for hydrocephalus. Mild cases can be treated with steroids to reduce pressure or with a shunt to divert fluid from the brain to the abdomen. Severe cases in puppies usually cause death before 4 months of age.

For more information, concerns and questions contact your veterinarian.

Luxation of the Patella

Luxation of the Patella, or dislocation of the knee-cap is a common hereditary problem with the Chihuahua. It is also unfortunate that most of the time the animal is older before it shows. It appears in varying degrees from minimal to debilitating. Very young dogs may compensate, but this can only make the dislocation occur in the other leg.

The dislocation is usually on the inner side, the ligaments become stretched each time it happens until the patella is rarely where it is suppose to be. When the dog is standing with a dislocation of the patella, the hocks on the hind legs will be straight and if severe will cause extreme pain.

Recent studies have shown that immediate treatment is recommended, rather then waiting until the dislocation has practically crippled the dog. Reasoning behind this is that while the knee is dislocated the entire body of the dog is compensating for it, causing deformations of many other skeletal areas.

There is a lot of information available on Luxation of the Patella in Hilary Harmar’s “The Complete Chihuahua Encyclopedia”.

For more information, concerns and questions contact your veterinarian.

Tracheal Collapse

The trachea is the airway tube which connects the larynx to the main-stem bronchi in the lungs. The trachea consists of “C” shaped cartilage rings and flexible tissue, covered by a specialized lining. This lining has cells with tiny hair-like projections (cillia). The primary function of the cillia is the removal of mucus, inhaled particles and inhaled bacteria. Between the movement of the cillia gathering debris and the cough reflex, the trachea serves as a filter screening this debris from reaching the lungs.

Tracheal collapse is when the rigid structure of the trachea becomes weakened. This weakened area collapses due to external and/or internal pressure created during activity, thus interfering with normal respiration. The weakened area becomes irritated. Since coughing and respiratory exertion can cause further irritation, clinical signs will worsen and the condition can become self perpetuating. Tracheal collapse may occur alone or in association with another airway disorder (most often chronic bronchitis).

A chronic “honking” cough (not to be confused with the “reversed sneeze”) can be an indication of this condition. In some cases the cough can become so severe that the animal behaves as though there is something caught in its throat. Other indications of this disorder include breathing difficulty, tiring easily and exercise intolerance.

Mild cases often respond well to cough suppressants, keeping the dog at its ideal weight and stress reduction. These dogs can live long and healthy lives. In more advanced cases surgical correction may be necessary, though not with guaranteed results. In cases of combination airway disorders, treatment of the contributing disorders may be necessary before treating the tracheal collapse.

The best way to prevent a collapsed trachea is to ALWAYS put a harness on your small dog and never put pressure on their neck and throat by pulling with a collar.

For more information, concerns and questions contact your veterinarian.

Reverse Sneezing

A fit of sneezing, snorting, honking and wheezing are not necessarily a collapsed trachea. Pulling on a leash (which a harness should always be used), drinking too fast or excitement can cause reversed sneezing. This is usually caused by a elongated soft palate that is thought to become temporarily misaligned. It is a common trait in toy breeds.

Although this may appear to be scary, it only last a few short seconds or minutes and can be ended by massaging the dog’s neck and throat and encouraging the dog to swallow. Other ways to slow the reverse sneeze is to clap your hands, distract the dog or close off the dog’s nostrils with your fingers, simply forcing them to breathe through their mouths and to swallow.

For more information, concerns and questions contact your veterinarian.

Anal Sacs

The anal glands of your Chihuahua are located in the musculature of the anal ring, one on either side. Each empties into the rectum via a small duct. Sometimes the secretion becomes thick and accumulates and you can easily feel the bulges from the outside.

If your Chihuahua is scooting across the floor, dragging it’s rear end or licking it’s rear, the anal sacs may need to be expressed.

Pressing in and up towards the anus, while holding the tail is the best way to relieve it. Your vet can show you how to do this.

For more information, concerns and questions contact your veterinarian.