Not only are Chihuahuas the smallest dog breed out there, but they are also the breed with the toughest attitude.
Apart from being a constant source of entertainment, Chihuahuas are extremely loyal and intelligent. And with their energetic nature, they’re basically the divas of the dog world!
Chihuahuas are the perfect pet for someone living in a city. They can blend into any environment and space.
If you’re planning on getting a Chihuahua, and you want to know what’s in store for you, then you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about taking care of Chihuahuas.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- What to Feed Your Chihuahua
- How to Groom Your Chihuahua Dog
- Physical Activities for Chihuahua
- How to Train your Chihuahua Dog
- Bottom Line
What to Feed Your Chihuahua
Chihuahuas may be small, but that doesn’t mean they need less food than larger dogs. Since they can’t digest a lot of food in one go, they need to be fed more frequently.
What you feed your Chihuahua and how much you feed them, is going to depend on the activity, age, and health of your dog.
A vet will be able to weigh in all these factors and give you the best advice about how to feed your Chihuahua.
If you plan on buying commercial food then make sure that it is of very high quality. There are also certain things that you should keep in mind, like how dry food for a Chihuahua should have 30 – 33% protein content.
If you don’t want to rely solely on store-bought food, a good old homemade stew works well too.
What to Look Out For
When cooking a homemade meal for your dog, you’ve got to be very careful about the ingredients you use. Always try to serve your dog lean meat like chicken, beef and lamb.
As for carbs, stick to brown rice, peas, and sweet potatoes as these releases more energy throughout the day and keep your Chihuahua full for longer.
An adult dog will need 5% of fat in its diet. Apart from making your Chihuahua’s meals a lot more delicious, fat is actually a required micronutrient.
However, make sure you’re not giving your dog a lot of food that is high in fat content, as this will make your Chihuahua obese. The best and healthiest source of fat for your dog is fish oil, which contains Omega 3 fatty acids.
Which Human Foods to Avoid
I know it might be tempting, but no matter how cute of a puppy dog face your Chihuahua makes, don’t feed it human food.
No, not even the leftovers!
You might think a small amount of human food will be harmless, but even the simplest things like cured meat can be damaging for a Chihuahua.
Some human food that shouldn’t go anywhere near your Chihuahua’s mouth include:
1. Chocolate and Caffeine
Chocolate has two substances – caffeine and theobromine – that can be toxic for your dog.
The side effects of caffeine don’t just stop at rapid breathing, tremors, diarrhea, and vomiting. It may also cause low blood pressure, cardiac arrest, coma and even death.
Your dog should avoid anything containing caffeine because it does not have the ability to metabolize it. Which means that if your dog has even the smallest sip of your coffee drink, it might suffer from caffeine poisoning.
2. Raisins and Grapes
Raisins and grapes can have a pretty bad effect on your dog. Apart from mouth ulcers, vomiting, and diarrhea, they can also cause symptoms such as issues with urinating, lethargy and tremors.
They’re also extremely toxic for the kidneys and in some cases may lead to seizures, coma, and death.
3. Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions contain a substance called thiosulfate which dogs simply can’t digest. These foods are known to be responsible for a condition called ‘Heinz Body’ anemia’ in dogs.
Some immediate effects of ingesting garlic and onions include darker colored and uncontrollable urination, pale gums, vomiting, and diarrhea. It may also cause weakness, seizures and even death.
4. Milk, Cheese, and Dairy Products
Ingesting any of these foods may cause your dog to suffer from gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. Unless you want to deal with the mess and risk making your dog ill, it’s best to stay away from any dairy products.
Nutmeg is especially harmful to dogs as it contains a neurotoxin called myristicin. This can cause high blood pressure, an increased heart rate, dry mouth, lethargy and abdominal pain.
It might even cause your dog to hallucinate and have seizures, and in the most severe cases, it can also be fatal.
The feeding schedule will depend on your Chihuahua’s weight and bone structure.
Here’s a general rule that will give you a rough idea about how often to feed your dog:
- Chihuahuas that weigh less than 1.5 kg and have a bone structure that is very fine need to be fed every four hours, at the very least.
- Chihuahuas that have fine bone structure and weigh somewhere between 1.5 to 2 kgs need to be fed at least three times a day.
- Chihuahuas that weigh more than 2 kgs and have a solid bone structure should be fed just twice a day.
Feeding Dos and Don’ts
- Never stick to a strict feeding schedule. Instead, try to pick a time period for meals every day that is consistent but not completely specific.
- Your Chihuahua’s food should be low in salt content to avoid any kidney or heart problems.
- If you have more than one dog, make sure that you feed them in separate places. As your Chihuahua is the smallest, let them eat in peace without having to fend off other larger dogs.
- Be prepared to give your Chihuahua at least 15 to 20 minutes to finish their meal.
- Don’t overfeed your dog. Chihuahuas can gain weight very easily so you should constantly be on the lookout for this and adjust their diet accordingly.
- Stay away from snacks that have artificial coloring. It’s best to opt for white or cream-colored treats or even organic treats like baby carrots.
How to Groom Your Chihuahua Dog
Grooming is a very important part of taking care of your Chihuahua. Having an unkempt, dirty dog can have more of an impact on their health than you realize.
1. Bath Time
The best way to give your Chihuahua a bath would be in a sink. Bathtubs can be a little overwhelming for them because of their size.
Make sure you’re using lukewarm water in the bath and shampoo and conditioner that is specifically made for dogs. Never use your own shampoo on your Chihuahua, because it will dry out its skin and make it itchy.
As for drying, immediately wipe your Chihuahua with a towel as soon as they’re done with the bath. Letting them air dry can be quite dangerous as Chihuahuas can lose body heat much faster than other dogs.
Also, when drying your Chihuahua, don’t forget to dry the ears! Even the slightest amount of moisture in the ears can lead to yeast infections.
If your dog isn’t too fussy, you could always place some cotton wool in its ears to prevent any water getting in.
2. Dental Care
Since the Chihuahua is a small breed of dog, it is more susceptible to dental problems. This is why regular teeth brushing is extremely important for Chihuahuas at any age.
For this, you’ll need toothpaste and a brush that is specially designed for smaller dogs.
You should start the practice of brushing teeth from an early age as your dog might not be cooperative if you start all of a sudden when they are older.
However, if you own a very old Chihuahua that is not at all used to the teeth brushing process and is giving you a hard time, you could always take it to the vet for the dental cleaning.
Important Things to Remember
If you don’t brush your dog’s teeth regularly, there is a high possibility of decay and infection, which can lead to your Chihuahua’s teeth falling out.
Once this infection spreads to the gums, it can easily spread to the heart and lungs, creating massive health problems.
In addition, Chihuahuas have very small mouths and often don’t have enough space for their teeth to develop. So there is a chance your dog might have to have some of its teeth removed.
3. Hair Care
Brushing your Chihuahua’s hair can be a fun and enjoyable activity for the both of you. However, there are some rules you’ll have to follow.
If you’ve got a Chihuahua with a smooth velvety coat, brushing once a week is enough. However, make sure that you use a brush with soft, natural bristles or a grooming glove made of rubber.
On the other hand, a long-coated Chihuahua will need to be brushed at least twice a week with a pin brush. But if you can do the job daily, that’s even better!
You should also be prepared for a lot of hair shedding during spring and fall.
4. More Grooming Advice
Yes, there’s more grooming advice. Chihuahua’s need to be taken care of so that they can be their glamorous selves. Here are some other things you should be doing to keep your Chihuahua well groomed…
A. Wipe Away Eye Discharge
Chihuahuas often have a lot of discharge around the eyes so always keep a soft cloth at hand to gently wipe away the discharge.
Tear stain removers are also something you will need if your dog develops yellowish tear stains around its eyes.
B. Ears Matter
Use cotton balls dipped in dog ear cleaning solutions to get the wax out of your Chihuahua’s ears. Even a little bit of coconut or baby oil will do the job.
But remember, you’ve got to be gentle and careful with how you’re navigating the cotton ball inside the dog’s ear.
Chihuahuas also tend to have hair growing out of their ears which need to be removed. This can be done using tweezers or your hands.
A very useful tip when doing this is to use ear powders. They allow more efficient hair plucking by letting you grip on to the hair strands more easily.
C. Trim Those Nails
Chihuahuas have incredibly fast-growing nails. These nails should be trimmed for your dog’s personal hygiene as well as the protection of your floors.
D. Paw Care
Paws are often overlooked when grooming dogs. However, they should always be carefully checked for sores cuts and grazes.
Long-coated Chihuahuas tend to have long stray hairs that grow from the pads of their feet. This is actually quite painful for them and can make it difficult for them to walk.
So, make sure to check your Chihuahua’s paws and trim away any stray hair regularly.
Physical Activities for Chihuahua
Like all dogs, Chihuahuas need plenty of exercises. They’re super energetic and playful and love running around. However, they can’t handle as much physical activity as other larger dogs.
Taking your Chihuahua on short walks of 20 to 30 minutes a day is the best form of physical activity for a dog of their size. Just make sure you’re not using a traditional leash, as Chihuahuas are very susceptible to tracheal collapse. Using a full body harness is a much safer option.
But feeling sorry for them and skipping the use of any sort of harness is not an option either.
Important Things To Remember
If you let your curious Chihuahua out of sight even for a second, it can cause all sorts of havoc.
Due to their size, Chihuahuas are also not very easy to spot and might be run over by cars. So be very careful when taking your dog out on walks!
It is also important to recognize your dog’s individual physical limits. Never over-exercise your Chihuahua or tire it out too much.
Rules to Remember
- Do not let your Chihuahua jump from extremely high heights, especially if the platform is more than two feet high. They can injure their hips and knees very easily as they just aren’t built for acrobatics!
- If you have a really old Chihuahua, you should invest in a ramp in your home. This will make it easier for your dog to travel around the house and sit in its favorite difficult-to-reach places like the sofa.
- Avoid hot pavements and very icy surfaces. In fact, you should probably buy your pet a pair of dog shoes for protection.
- Always keep an eye on your Chihuahua when you’re outdoors. It might sound ridiculous, but its small size makes these dogs an easy grab for large birds and even kidnappers.
How to Train your Chihuahua Dog
Well be honest with you – Chihuahuas can be slightly difficult to train. They like to behave as though they are larger than they are. While this may be cute, it can also be quite frustrating when they’re being stubborn.
However, with a little patience and plenty of practice, Chihuahuas can turn out to be quite well behaved.
1. Obedience Training
Don’t jump into the difficult stuff right away; start off by getting your Chihuahua to learn basic commands really well before moving onto the next thing.
You’d be surprised to know that Chihuahuas can actually be trained to carry out basic instructions in just three to four weeks.
Teaching your Chihuahua these simple commands might be easier if you place your dog on a table, as it is quite hard to constantly bend down.
Important Things To Remember
Just make sure that there’s a separate, distraction-free area for training purposes so that your Chihuahua can focus.
Don’t let the lessons be too long though. Keep them to a maximum of 15 minutes. Treats and praises are a good way of getting your dog to listen to you. However, when giving commands, make sure to use a different tone of voice.
It is also important to establish that you make the rules. Never give in to excessive barking or whining or any of the cute faces your Chihuahua makes.
Finally, keep repeating the same commands until your Chihuahua learns them by heart.
Potty training Chihuahuas isn’t a walk in the park, because they’re tiny wilful creatures that take some time to learn things.
For potty training outside, take your Chihuahua outdoors regularly so that it understands that potty isn’t meant to be done inside the home.
If your dog does make a mess, however, clean it up immediately. Punishing your dog or scolding it excessively will do no good.
Sometimes Chihuahuas don’t do well with the outdoor potty system because it might be too cold for them. In that case, you should opt for litter box training.
Steps to Follow
For any method you use, you’ll essentially have to do the same thing. Keep taking your dog to the designated potty area at specific times like early in the morning, after meals and before sleeping.
You’ll have to be very consistent with this schedule and do it every day. Slacking off won’t help your dog to learn. After a few weeks, observe whether your dog follows the routine on its own.
Whenever your Chihuahua goes to the bathroom in the right place, you should give it a reward or a praise. Positive reinforcement is the best form of encouragement.
3. Teaching Your Chihuahua Social Skills
Chihuahuas aren’t the friendliest of dogs, especially around strangers. They might be tiny, but they can get pretty aggressive.
They’re also very easily scared, so you need to give them time to adjust to a new environment. Always let your Chihuahua approach people themselves, and don’t try it the other way around.
Also, never leave your Chihuahua around a child without supervision, especially if your dog is at the stage of teething, as it might end up biting them.
Don’t let children carry your Chihuahua around either, as this might hurt their back.
The socializing efforts should be started early on, by taking your Chihuahua to dog parks and on regular walks. This way it will be more accustomed to seeing new people as well as different types of dogs.
Basic Health Issues and Prevention for Chihuahua
When you own a Chihuahua, you should know the health problems that it is most likely to have.
You should do plenty of research regarding these issues and get your Chihuahua checked regularly by a vet.
But if you are well aware of your Chihuahua’s state of health, you can prevent and treat these problems very easily.
Here’s a brief description of the common health issues these poor little creatures are likely to face, and what you can do to make them feel better.
1. Tracheal Collapse
As Chihuahuas get older, they are very likely to suffer from Tracheal Collapse, especially if they are overweight.
You’ll be able to tell if your dog is suffering from this issue if it has a cough which sounds like a goose honk, along with gagging and abnormal breathing.
To ease these symptoms, your dog will need bronchodilator medication. Try to keep your Chihuahua from being stressed out, as this makes the symptoms worse.
Never use a collar as it will damage your Chihuahua’s throat. In extreme cases, surgery might be the only solution.
Chihuahua’s have a soft spot on their head called a Molera. Those with larger Moleras are likely to have a condition called Hydrocephalus. This occurs when there’s excessive cerebrospinal fluid in your Chihuahua’s brain.
The condition is common among nine-month-old puppies and older dogs. It can cause seizures, blindness, dementia and ultimately, death.
However, dogs with the mild version of this condition may survive with proper treatment.
This involves giving your Chihuahua corticosteroids and diuretics to stop cerebrospinal fluid production. Surgery may also be necessary.
Chihuahuas are prone to having extremely low blood sugar levels, which is known as Hypoglycemia. This is harmful to the dog’s nervous system and might lead to permanent brain damage, seizures, and coma.
Symptoms include weakness, tremors, lethargy, and restlessness.
In case of a Hypoglycemia attack, you’ll have to take action right away to prevent permanent damage.
If your dog has fallen unconscious, dip your finger into something sweet like corn syrup or honey and rub it on its gums. And then, immediately take it to a vet.
If your dog is awake, feed it some corn syrup, honey or sugar water. Wait 30 minutes to see if its condition improves, or else take it to a vet.
Important Read: 7 Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs and How It Should be Fed
After reading all of these guidelines, we’re sure you’ll agree that caring for a Chihuahua is no easy feat.
Chihuahuas are quite fragile and need to be dealt with very carefully. While they are extremely clever and fast learning creatures, they can also be quite stubborn and hostile.
Basically, they’re small adorable bundles of energy that appear tougher than they really are.
But rest assured that with love, care and tons of patience on your part, you’ll be able to enjoy the loyal and long-lasting company of the most adorable, tiny dog breed out there. So, go on and bring your Chihuahua home!