Chihuahua Health Issues: A Comprehensive Guide

Welcome to a comprehensive guide on Chihuahua health issues, an important aspect of dog health. Chihuahuas, one of the smallest dog breeds, enchant people worldwide with their irresistible charm. Yet, their small size brings unique health challenges that every owner needs to understand.

This guide explores the range of health concerns specific to Chihuahuas, from dental issues to their delicate bone structure. Our goal is to equip Chihuahua owners with essential knowledge for optimal care, contributing to the overall health of dogs. Join us in learning how to ensure the health, well-being, and longevity of these beloved tiny canines.

Chihuahua Health Issues

Health Problems in Chihuahuas

1.Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

 IVDD is a debilitating condition that affects the spine of many dog breeds, including Chihuahuas. 

The discs that cushion the vertebrae can deteriorate, leading to severe pain and even paralysis. Owners should be cautious about their pet’s activities, ensuring they don’t undertake strenuous jumps or play that could harm their delicate spines. 

Regular vet check-ups can help early detection, and treatments can range from medications to surgery.

2.Heart Conditions

Chihuahuas are susceptible to a range of heart conditions. Mitral valve disease, a condition where the heart’s valve thickens and disrupts blood flow, is widespread. Regular cardiac screenings, a heart-healthy diet, and moderate exercise, can aid in early detection and management.

3.Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or Chronic Bronchitis

COPD can be distressing for Chihuahuas, leading to chronic bronchitis and other respiratory issues. Ensuring they live in a clean, smoke-free environment and are not exposed to excessive pollutants is crucial for their lung health.

4.Patellar Luxation

This condition causes the knee joint to pop out of its socket, often due to abnormalities in the leg and thigh bone joints or after an injury. 

Symptoms include limping, hopping, and whimpering. Treatment ranges from physical therapy to surgery, depending on the severity.


Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can be a severe concern for Chihuahuas, especially puppies. Symptoms can range from lethargy and tremors to seizures. Feeding them small, frequent meals and having a glucose solution is essential.

6.Tracheal Collapse

This occurs when the cartilage rings supporting the windpipe collapse. Symptoms include difficulty breathing and a honking cough. Treatment can be surgical or non-surgical.

7.Dental Problems

Due to their small mouths and closely-spaced teeth, Chihuahuas are prone to dental issues. Regular cleaning and check-ups are essential.


Some Chihuahuas may have a spinal fluid buildup in the skull due to an unclosed gap in their skulls. Symptoms include seizures and poor coordination. Early detection and treatment are crucial.

9.Spinal Injuries

 Chihuahuas are susceptible to spinal injuries due to their delicate nature. Proper handling and care are essential.


Overfeeding can lead to obesity, especially in Chihuahuas, as they are prone to weight gain. A fat Chihuahua not only faces the risk of obesity-related health problems but may also exacerbate existing health issues such as hypothyroidism.

Therefore, a good diet and exercise regimen tailored to the specific needs of the Chihuahua breed are vital for maintaining optimal health and preventing weight-related complications. Regular vet check-ups can also help monitor weight and address any concerns early on.

11.Bladderand Kidney Stones

These mineral crystals can cause pain and urinary issues. Treatment can involve medication or surgery..


Scleritis is an inflammation of the sclera, the white outer layer of the eye. 

This condition can be painful and result from an autoimmune response, infection, or injury. Chihuahuas with this condition may squint, avoid light, or have watery eyes. 

It’s essential to consult a vet if you notice these symptoms, as untreated scleritis can lead to vision loss.

13.Reverse Sneezing

While the term “reverse sneezing” might sound alarming, it’s a common occurrence in many small breeds. It’s a rapid inhalation that sounds like a sneeze. While it’s not harmful, it can be startling for dog owners. 

The exact cause is unknown, but allergens, excitement, or a tight collar might trigger it. Calming your Chihuahua during an episode and ensuring they have a comfortable collar can help.

14.Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is a severe, contagious disease caused by a virus. It affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. 

Early symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, and coughing, progressing to tremors and paralysis. Vaccination is the primary preventive measure, and it’s crucial to ensure your Chihuahua gets their shots regularly.


Shivering is a characteristic trait of Chihuahuas. While it’s often just a response to cold temperatures, it can also indicate excitement, anxiety, or underlying health issues. 

Ensuring your Chihuahua stays warm, especially during colder months, is vital. If shivering is frequent or accompanied by other symptoms, it’s worth a vet visit.

16.Pulmonic Stenosis

This congenital heart defect involves a narrowing of the pulmonary valve, leading to restricted blood flow. 

Symptoms might not be evident in mild cases, but severe conditions can lead to lethargy, breathing difficulties, and even heart failure. Regular check-ups can help in early detection and management.

17.Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia, common in many breeds, involves an improperly formed hip joint. Over time, it can lead to painful arthritis. 

While genetics play a role, ensuring your Chihuahua doesn’t become overweight and providing joint supplements can help manage the condition.

18.Eye Problems

Chihuahua Eye Issues

Chihuahuas have prominent, expressive eyes, making them prone to various eye issues

Regular cleaning and check-ups can prevent many of these problems. If you notice redness, cloudiness, or discharge, it’s essential to consult a vet.

19.Liver Problems

The liver is a vital organ, detoxifying the body and aiding digestion. Chihuahuas can suffer from congenital liver shunts, where blood bypasses the liver. 

Symptoms include stunted growth, seizures, and behavioral changes. A special diet and, in some cases, surgery can manage the condition.

20.Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis(NME)

NME is an inflammatory disease affecting the brain and its membranes. It’s a severe condition with symptoms like seizures, blindness, and paralysis. Early detection and treatment can help manage the disease, but it’s crucial to know the signs.

21.Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

This condition involves decreased blood supply to the femur, leading to joint disintegration.It’s painful and can lead to limping or reluctance to jump. Surgery, followed by physical therapy, is the most effective treatment.

Chihuahua Health Issues: Signs and Symptoms

Chihuahuas, with their expressive eyes and dynamic personalities, often show when they’re not feeling their best. 

Owners should recognize these signs, from changes in appetite and behavior to physical symptoms like coughing or limping. 

Recognizing Health Issues: Signs and Symptoms

Chihuahuas’ ears are often erect and alert, making them prone to infections. Regular cleaning can prevent many ear issues. 

Signs of an ear problem include scratching, head shaking, and foul odor. If left untreated, infections can lead to more severe conditions like vestibular disease, affecting balance.

Eye health is paramount for Chihuahuas. Regular checks can help detect issues early. 

Discharge, redness, or cloudiness can be signs of infections, cataracts, or other eye problems. Early treatment can prevent complications and ensure your Chihuahua’s vision remains sharp.

A Chihuahua’s nose should be moist and cool. A dry or cracked nose can indicate dehydration or other underlying issues. Similarly, nasal discharge, especially if colored or thick, can signify respiratory infections.

4.Breathing Irregularities

Chihuahuas, with their small tracheas, can be prone to breathing issues. Wheezing, coughing, or labored breathing should be addressed immediately. 

Conditions like tracheal collapse or respiratory infections can be managed with early detection.

5.Temperature Fluctuations

A dog’s normal body temperature ranges between 101°F to 102.5°F. Consistent deviations from this range warrant a vet visit, especially if accompanied by other symptoms.

How to Care for My Chihuahua?

Chihuahuas, while low-maintenance in some aspects, require specific care tailored to their unique needs. 

From their dietary requirements, given their propensity for obesity, to their grooming needs, given their coat type, Chihuahua care is multifaceted.

How to Care for Your Chihuahua?

1.Nutritional Guidelines

Chihuahuas have fast metabolisms, requiring a diet rich in protein and fat. It’s essential to feed them high-quality dog food tailored to their needs. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, a significant health risk, so monitoring their weight and portion sizes is crucial.

2.Grooming Essentials

While Chihuahuas aren’t high-maintenance in terms of grooming, regular brushing, nail trimming, and dental care are essential. Their coat, whether short or long-haired, benefits from weekly brushing. Dental issues are common, so regular teeth cleaning can prevent many problems.

3.Preventive Measures

Regular vet visits, vaccinations, and preventive treatments for parasites are crucial. Chihuahuas, with their small size, can be more vulnerable to flea and tick infestations, making preventive measures vital.

4.Importance of Daily Exercise

Despite their size, Chihuahuas are active and require daily exercise. Regular walks and play sessions can keep them physically and mentally stimulated.

Frequently Ask Question


In closing, effectively managing Chihuahua health issues is pivotal for their well-being. Understanding and addressing their specific needs, particularly in areas like dental, bone, and respiratory health, is essential.

Ensuring regular veterinary care, providing balanced nutrition, and creating a safe environment are key steps towards a healthy life for your Chihuahua. By focusing on these aspects, you not only enhance their quality of life but also strengthen the loving bond you share with your cherished companion.

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