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When it comes to lap dogs, there’s no breed more suitable to lapsitting than the Chihuahua. What they lack in size, they more than make up for in personality. Overall, Chihuahuas are very affectionate and exceedingly loyal. They’re famous for their eccentricities and antics, which have made them one of the most popular dogs for owners across the world.

Chihuahuas are one of the longest-living dog breeds, sometimes reaching up to 18-years old. However, this long life span doesn’t make them immune to the various complications that can incur from either illness or injury. 

Chihuaha Health Problems

  • Back Pain: Chihuahuas love to jump up on furniture, which many owners happily permit. However, when small dogs jump around, they’re slowly stretching their spine, often in unnatural, or unhealthy, ways. This can lead to a number of back issues. There are numerous symptoms when a Chihuahua is experiencing back pain, some of the most prominent being a consistently lowered head, a hunched back, shaking and yelping when touched. 
  • IVDD: A complication of prolonged spinal issues, intervertebral disk disease causes a rupturing of disks in the Chihuahua’s backbones. IVDD can result in symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to noticeable pain or paralysis. The symptoms are similar to those caused by general back pain, but due to the increased severity of IVDD, they’ll likely be more noticeable. Fortunately, there are many treatments available, including anti-inflammatory medicines. In severe cases, surgery can be performed to relieve spinal pressure and provide relief.
  • Periodontal Disease: This is the inflammation of the supporting structure of the teeth and gum line. Gum diseases are common in all dog breeds, but they’re most prevalent in tiny, toy breeds. There’s a simple reason for this: these smaller breeds have smaller mouths which are overcrowded with teeth and create a breeding ground for plaque and tartar buildup. 
  • Otitis: The inflammation of the middle or innerear. It’s actually a bit surprising to see this condition so much in pointy-eared Chihuahuas since such ear infections typically afflict long, floppy-eared breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers, but it is a common find among Chihuahuas, as well. 
  • Gastritis: The inflammation of the stomach lining, gastritis is a common issue that burdens all dogs (and cats) regardless of size or breed. While uncomfortable, it’s rarely life-threatening even though vomiting, diarrhea or even bloody stool might be present. Treatments vary widely, though the proper one should be determined by your veterinarian following a thorough evaluation. 
  • URI: Upper respiratory infections are common in small toy breeds. These infections involve the throat, nasal cavities, trachea and/or the bronchi. Chihuahuas are particularly vulnerable due to the frequency of pulmonic stenosis (a condition that restricts blood flow to the heart) and collapsed tracheas (where the trachea flattens as the dog tries to breathe). Regardless of the cause, a visit to your vet as soon as you notice your dog having difficulty breathing is vital.
  • UTI: The most common culprits of canine urinary tract infections are bacteria which enter the system every day through food and water. The most ostensive symptoms of a UTI are bloody or foul-scented urine and drastic changes in urination patterns. 
  • Corneal Ulcer: The cornea is the transparent covering of the iris and pupil, which allows light to enter the eye. Chihuahua’s eyelids have a tendency to roll inward, which scratches the eye’s surface, causing trauma. This consistent trauma, combined with the Chihuahua’s short nose and large, protruding eyeballs, are a dangerous combination for the formation of corneal ulcers. 
  • Dermatitis: There are many reasons why Chihuahuas struggle with skin problems, such as allergies (and Chihuahuas are plenty allergic). The culprits can be anything from fleas to mold to pollen. Mange (microscopic parasites that live in the skin) can be another cause of dermatitis, as can yeast. With all these irritants, the chihuahua’s love of licking, chewing and scratching itself certainly doesn’t help matters, either!
  • Pyoderma: Pyoderma broadly refers to three different types of skin infections: surface pyoderma, which are bacterial infections on the surface of the skin; superficial pyoderma, bacterial infections that occur within the skin; and deep pyoderma, a rare form where bacteria manifests beneath the skin. Pyoderma typically afflict dogs with short or smooth coats, just like Chihuahua’s have. Lesions, hair loss and redness are all symptoms of pyoderma. 

As mentioned before, Chihuahuas are known for having long lives. As a loving Chihuahua parent, it’s your job to ensure that its many years are as happy, healthy and enjoyable as possible. That means keeping a cautious eye out for any potential health issues. It might seem like a lot to look out for, but staying knowledgeable and informed while making frequent trips to the veterinarian for checkups is the best possible way to keep your pet safe.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.