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Chihuahua Health Problems


Fortunately, most Chihuahuas are healthy and happy dogs in the World that can live to the age of fifteen years. We want to inform you about some breed-specific conditions and issues of the Chihuahua that are listed here below.

Entropion. This is a genetic condition affecting the eyelids. With entropion the eyelids are curled inwards, the eyelashes lay on the eyeball causing irritation, which leads to red watering eyes. This can cause serious damage to the cornea and eventually even cause blindness. Surgical correction is necessary with this condition.

Jaw abnormalities. Sometimes undershot and overbite are found in this breed. When a dog has an undershot, the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. This gives the dog a somewhat aggressive appearance. When a dog has an overbite, the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw. The advice is: never use these dogs for breeding.

Open fontanelle (molera). When a puppy is born, the bones of the skull do not yet close together completely. The cranial bones are only connected to each other by the membranes of the connective tissue. At the moment that the ossification of the connective tissue will be completely. Between the cranial bones we find sutures and the place where several sutures come together - we call a molera. This is a weak spot in the crown of the skull. When we speak about an open molera, we mean a skull that is not closed completely. A dog which suffers from this disorder has to live a very quiet life, as too rough or too wild contact which its little skull can cause severe injury.

Patella luxation. In the case of this abnormality, the kneecap is not placed centrally at the end of the shinbone. The kneecap ends up next to the joint. A luxating kneecap can occur if the groove is not deep enough. This can be hereditary, but it can also be the result of trauma. Nowadays techniques are chosen to save the cartilage. The joint can be made tighter in order to keep the kneecap better on its place.

Reverse sneezing. The dog starts to draw breath heavily through its nose. This can cause a snoring or hawking noise. Because of the speed, it sounds like sneezing. Because the mucosa in the throat is irritated, a cramp will arise in the small muscles of the throat. Such an irritation can occur when the dog is excited, from swallowing, from running or when a dog is pulling extremely at its leash. By rubbing over its throat or by keeping the nostrils closed for a short while, it will disappear soon. In some cases it is necessary to visit a veterinarian. Sometimes it can it can be a kind of allergic reaction.

Hot spots. When a dog has spots or pyogenic dermatitis, we see damaged skin, that exudes liquid. Because of the red colour the skin looks infected. It itches and there is a risk of infection. Hot spots can arise by scratch and bite behaviour of the dog. By keeping this wound clean and soft with disinfecting ointment  the skin on this spot can stay elastic and will be cured faster.

Hydrocephalus. The presence of a molera in a Chihuahua DOES NOT make the dog any more or less susceptible to brain injury, seizures or hydrocephalus. The molera should not usually be any larger than the size of your thumb print, and there should be no swelling, bulging or throbbing. Check carefully on the sides of the head for normal bone there as well; make sure there is no more then one molera, on the top of the head only, as more than a single molera is not normal. Hydrocephalus is the accumulation of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and is not normal for any breed, nor is it curable. Hydrocephalus is also known as "water on the brain" or "hydro". When fluid accumulates in the brain, it compresses the brain against the skull. A puppy can be born with this disorder, or it can be caused by a brain infection or head injury later in life. Chihuahuas born with "hydro" do not generally live more than a few months, and they do not grow normally, often staying extremely tiny. Signs of hydro include wide-set or protruding eyeballs (often with a lot of "white" showing at the corners), blindness, abnormal behaviour, walking in circles, slowness (mental and physical), seizures, abnormally slow growth and lack of coordination. Concerns about Chihuahua moleras and/or hydro should be addressed to a licensed veterinarian. Be aware however, that many veterinarians not familiar with Chihuahuas have wrongly told owners that their puppy is unhealthy and/or hydrocephalic just because of the presence of a normal molera. Diagnosis is based on the signs in conjunction with techniques to image the brain. In dogs with a molera, ultrasound can be performed by scanning through the molera to detect the excessive accumulation of fluid within the brain. Unfortunately, there is no cure for hydrocephalus. Mild cases can be treated with steroids and diuretics to reduce pressure, or with a surgically inserted shunt to divert fluid from the brain to the abdomen.

Retained testicles. Obviously, only a potential problem in male Chihuahuas. Again this is a problem that is not restricted to the Chihuahua breed and can be seen in many other breeds of dog, but it is worth a mention on this page.
 This is a congenital problem - it is hereditary and passes from male to male within the generations.
Male dogs born of a sire whom has a retained testicle are highly likely to have to same problem as an adult.
Although these dogs can successfully produce puppies (even though they have only one testicle within the scrotum), they are highly likely to pass this defective gene on to their male progeny offspring/puppies.
This is a highly undesirable trait and dogs with a retained testicle should not be used to breed from or to show.
Sometimes one of the testicles will take its time descending down the inguinal canal. Chihuahuas are renowned for this and it can take up to six months (maybe more, from birth) for the 2nd testicle to fully descend in to the scrotum. If you know, there is not a family history of retained testicles then it is best to leave the puppy for as long as possible (up to 12 months). Chihuahuas are very small dogs and although some have both testicles present by the 2nd vaccination (around 10 weeks old) some take much longer.
However, if it has not fully descended by 6 - 12 months of age and there is no sign of the testicle within the inguinal canal then castration is usually the only option, especially if there is a family history of the genetic problem, Retained testicles can become cancerous if left within the body for a prolonged period of time. Remember, testicles are contained within the scrotum normally (which is external of the body because it is cooler on the outside of the body), this is because the sperm live best without internal body heat - which is higher on the inside than the outside. This is natural of any male body, so if one testicle is retained within the body it is easy to see how problems may occur.
Moreover, the operation involved is much more complex, as a vet may need to operate from the scrotum right up to the near the kidneys, just to find the long lost testicle. This means that what should have been a simple operation of castration, turns into a major operation and a poor dog that feels worse for wear afterwards and a twice the price operation.
If you want a male puppy and you plan to breed or show that male puppy or if you want to breed your bitch to a particular stud dog - make sure you ask if his sire/stud has both testicles present.

Chihuahua Allergies. Chihuahuas can suffer from allergies just like we can. It's believed that 1 in 5 of all dogs experience some form of allergies. Although they usually don't pose a serious threat to their health, watching a Chihuahua experience an allergic episode can be a frightening sight for their owner. But what exactly causes these cute little canines to exhibit this behaviour? Keep reading and we'll go over some of the most common causes of allergies in Chihuahuas.
Depending on the severity of the situation, a Chihuahua suffering from allergies may require medical attention, or they may simply need to wait it out. The real problem occurs when the allergic reaction creates new concerns of its own. If you believe your Chihuahua is suffering from allergies, the first thing you should do is consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.
Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with allergies:
Excessive licking, especially around the paws.
*Dry, peeling skin.
*Eye and nose mucus or discharge.
*Itchiness associated with scratching.
Note: All Chihuahuas respond to allergies in different ways; therefore, it's highly unlikely that your Chihuahua will exhibit all of the previously listed symptoms.

Parasites. Worms can have a serious health effect on puppies, so intestinal worming should never be overlooked. As a rule, all puppies need to be wormed every two weeks until 12 weeks of age, then every month until 6 months of age. After six months of age an adult dog needs to be wormed every 3 months. 
There are a number of intestinal worms that just love to live inside a dog's tummy.  Unfortunately they can be transferred to other family members, including children.  Following the intestinal worming care plan outlined above will help control worms in your puppy or dog and also help to protect the entire family. 


Dry Skin.

Dry skin may seem like a very simple issue, but it can lead to any number of uncomfortable health issues for your dog. To start with, excess dryness can lead to excess hair loss, damage to the skin and pain around sensitive areas.  It can also create areas that are prone to developing hot spots and can lead to other infections and skin issues that can only be treated with medication.  If your dog has dry skin, try to get a moisturizing dog shampoo that will both restore the oils to their coat and keep the skin from drying out so excessively. You may also consider a humidifier for your home to keep your dog from getting too dry (it will help you as well).  A dog's skin is just as sensitive and prone to having issues as our own. That can be a big problem, though,  because a dog is unable to tell you 'hey, my skin itches a lot". You have to not only pay close attention to their  discomfort levels, but you have to take the steps to fix any issues.  Always remember too that if your dog displays any signs of cancer, hot spots, or severe infection, contact your 

vet immediately for advanced treatment. Don't mess around  with cancer or infection.


There are many routes to infection including:

*Drinking contaminated water

*Contact with other infected animals

*Contact with other infected animal faeces

*From an infected nursing mother (nursing puppies)

*Swallowing fleas carrying the infective stage of tapeworms

*Eating meat (such as a rodent) that is carrying a parasite



 Most worms are identified by the presence of their eggs in a dog's faeces. These eggs are very small and are difficult to identify by eye. Tapeworms and Roundworms are two of the few that can be seen by eye. Tapeworms look like small pieces of rice and can be found in the faeces or around the tail and rear area, sometimes clinging to hair. For this reason you may see your dog scoot his rear across the ground as the worms can be irritating. Roundworms are long white worms that look like noodles or spaghetti. Occasionally puppies may vomit these up or they can also be seen in faeces. 






Roundworm View
About Roundworm

Most puppies are born with roundworm infections acquired before birth. Warning signs include diarrhoea, vomiting, poor growth and a 'pot belly' appearance. Dogs can also become infected by eating soil contaminated with roundworm eggs or eating other hosts such as mice or birds.




About Tapeworm

Tapeworms live in the small intestine. They can cause irritation around the anal region causing dogs to 'scoot' along the ground. Tapeworm segments look like grains of rice in a dog's faeces. There are two forms of tapeworm. Fleas carry one type called flea tapeworm. The other is called hydatid tapeworm.  


Breeding. Bad breeding practices, such as inbreeding, can heighten the risk of small Chihuahuas developing certain health conditions, such as patellar luxation, where the patella slips out of place, then slips back. Patellar luxation can lead to breaks, bow-leggedness and other complications with age. A properly bred Chihuahua is less likely to develop certain health complications but should still be screened regularly.

Time Frame. Small Chihuahuas can develop certain conditions throughout their lifetime. Some conditions are apparent at birth, while others develop with age as a result of genetics or negligence. For example, the smaller the Chihuahua, the larger the risk of gum disease forming as they age. Because the teeth are overcrowded in the mouth, food particles get stuck between the teeth and rot, causing bacteria and cavities to form.

Mild Health Problems. There are several mild health problems that very small Chihuahuas may encounter. A collapsing trachea is very common in this breed, and often develops with age. The trachea of the Chihuahua flattens and causes the dog to cough dryly and have mild breathing problems temporarily.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar is also very common in small Chihuahuas. Hypoglycemia can cause the dog to act lethargic and weak, but is easily treatable.

Severe Health Problems. There are several severe health problems that very small Chihuahuas are at risk of developing, all of which can be fatal if left untreated. Hemophilia is a blood disorder that makes it impossible for the dog's blood to clot on its own. This can be potentially deadly if the dog is ever injured.
Hydrocephalus is a condition that causes excessive spinal fluid to build up within the Chihuahua's skull, in turn putting pressure on the brain. Hydrocephalus can lead to seizures and vision problems for the chihuahua, as well as an enlarged skull.
A number of heart conditions are common in small Chihuahuas, including murmurs, mitral valve disease and pulmonic stenosis, all of which can be fatal if not appropriately treated.

Prevention/Solution. The easiest way to prevent your Chihuahua from developing any mild or severe health complications is to have him carefully and fully screened by a veterinarian. A series of blood tests, scans and physical examinations can result in an early diagnosis or assess the risk the dog faces. Regular teeth cleanings and checkups also can help prevent your Chihuahua from facing health problems as he ages.