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6 Common Chihuahua Health Problems

May 11, 2021 by SPOT Pet Insurance
Black and Brown Chihuahua with head between paws

What You Need To Know About Chihuahua Health Problems

Known as one of the most ancient dog breeds from the Americas, Chihuahuas are a national symbol in Mexico and are loved worldwide for their fun personality. These tiny dogs make up for their small size with a huge personality that is both charming and sassy.

Like all dogs, Chihuahuas are more prone to certain health problems based on their genetics. Today, we’re going over some of the most common Chihuahua health problems so that you can take the best care of your Chihuahua pup!

Common Chihuahua Health Problems

Heart Murmurs

A heart murmur is any atypical heart sound heard when a veterinarian is listening to your Chihuahua’s heart with their stethoscope. Heart murmurs are sometimes harmless but may be caused by an underlying health problem, such as congenital heart disease or pulmonic stenosis.

Regular veterinarian appointments can help your veterinarian to catch heart murmurs early on. If your veterinarian hears a heart murmur, they will ask you a series of questions about your dog’s health to see if there are other reasons for concern. Then they will assess whether your Chihuahua needs further testing to rule out possible underlying health issues.

Depending on present symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound evaluation of the heart, an electrocardiogram, or x-rays to eliminate potential underlying health problems. (1)

Heart murmurs can be harmless or indicate a grave health problem and catching heart murmurs early on can make a dramatic difference in your dog’s prognosis. This is one of the many reasons why routine veterinarian appointments are so vital to your Chihuahua’s health and wellbeing.

Obesity

As a breed, Chihuahuas are more susceptible to obesity, especially Chihuahuas with long coats whose weight gain may be less visible to their pet parents. As a general rule, you should be able to feel your Chihuahua’s ribs easily when you press the sides of their body.

Obesity contributes to many health problems, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart and respiratory disease, orthopedic issues, and a decreased life expectancy. (2)

Overfeeding is a common culprit of obesity, as is limited exercise. Consult with your veterinarian about your Chihuahua's ideal weight.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition that occurs when the ball and socket part of the hip joint form abnormally, leading to pain, arthritis, limping, and even lameness. Although hip dysplasia is typically found in large dog breeds at much higher rates, Chihuahuas have been found to be especially prone to hip dysplasia due to weak bones.

Due to their tiny, fragile frames, Chihuahuas are at an increased risk of injuring themselves and developing hip dysplasia as a result of their injury.

The good news is your veterinarian can usually treat hip dysplasia with surgery, pain relief medication, and physical therapy.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia, commonly known as low blood sugar, affects toy dog breeds at a disproportionate rate. Due to having such small bodies, Chihuahuas can have a harder time regulating their blood sugar and can experience hypoglycemia.

Fortunately, when diagnosed early on, hypoglycemia can be managed and treated. If not addressed, hypoglycemia can lead to severe fatigue, hair loss, appetite loss, shivering, and, at worst, comas.

To avoid hypoglycemia, it’s recommended that Chihuahua puppies are fed frequent small meals that contain fat, complex carbohydrates, and high amounts of protein. Some Chihuahua puppies may need to be fed four to six times a day to keep their blood sugar and energy levels stable. (3)

Pulmonic Stenosis

Pulmonic Stenosis is a common congenital heart disease regularly found in Chihuahuas. When a Chihuahua has pulmonic stenosis, they have a defect in their pulmonic valve or the surrounding area in the heart, which causes the body to have to work harder to pump blood from the heart to the lungs. This increased stress can lead to congestive heart failure or fatal arrhythmias in severe cases. (4)

In less severe cases, medication may be used. Moderate to severe pulmonic stenosis will often be treated via balloon valvuloplasty, which is a minimally invasive procedure that places a balloon dilation device into the narrowed valve. This device alleviates stress on the body and heart by opening the valve up more, leading to easier, increased blood flow. (5)

Idiopathic Epilepsy

Idiopathic epilepsy is a condition that occurs when a dog has seizures for an unknown reason. A 2009 Chihuahua Club of America survey found that 45% of survey participants currently had or previously had a Chihuahua with seizures with an unknown cause.

It’s believed that Chihuahuas are at an increased risk of seizures genetically. Epilepsy in dogs cannot typically be cured. However, prescription medications can help to decrease the symptoms of epilepsy. (6)

Pet Insurance for Chihuahuas

No pet parent wants to learn that their beloved Chihuahua has been diagnosed with health problems. While some diseases cannot be prevented, many health problems can be avoided or minimized with regular preventive veterinary care.

Pet insurance provides you with a safety net for your Chihuahua by helping with the cost of high-quality veterinary care. Let SPOT give you peace of mind today.

Fetch your free quote today!

Protect Your Chihuahua!

Sources
1. Veterinary Centers of America 2. American Kennel Club 3. Veterinary Partner 4. Cardiac Care for Pets 5. Rocky Mountain Veterinary Cardiology, P.C. 6. The Chihuahua Club of America

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