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Health Problems in Chihuahuas

4 min read
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Chihuahuas may be small, but their big personality, comic nature, and fierce loyalty are part of their charm, as you’ll soon discover when you welcome one of these tiny companions into your life.

Although you’ll see their bubbly attitude on full display as you get to know each other better, when it comes to health and wellbeing, there are a few health problems in Chihuahuas that owners should be aware of from day one.

Chihuahuas are a relatively healthy breed, but if you want to make sure potential signs of trouble don’t go undetected, here are some of the common health issues in Chihuahuas to keep an eye out for.

Common health problems in Chihuahuas

Luxating patella

Chihuahuas are prone to a condition called luxating patella in which their kneecap slips out of place. If you notice your little friend limping or holding one of their legs in a weird position, their kneecap might be coming out of its groove. Although in most cases it will go back into place by itself, there are also more severe forms of this health problem in Chihuahuas.

For example, the kneecap might only go back into its normal position after manually placing in back into its groove. Surgery might also be recommended for cases of grade 4 luxating patella in which the kneecap remains permanently out of place. It’s important to ask your vet for their help and advice.

This health condition is usually inherited and activities such as running or jumping might help trigger it. But with the right care and attention, these amazing dogs can continue their daily adventures, although not as intensely as they might want to. Physiotherapy, weight management, and special exercises can make a huge difference to their health and wellbeing.

Tracheal collapse

The trachea, the tube that allows air to travel in and out of the lungs, can become flattened in certain dogs, leading to respiratory difficulties. The causes for tracheal collapse are not fully understood, but genetics could play a big role and it seems that small dog breeds are more prone to developing this condition. If your Chihuahua displays signs such as coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing, make sure you call your vet for an appointment. This health issue in Chihuahuas should not be ignored.

Most mild cases can be managed using medication recommended by the vet. The goal is to help your dog breathe better and to reduce their coughing so they can continue enjoying their fun-filled life.

Dental Problems

Small dogs come with small mouths which means that their teeth can easily become overcrowded and hard to clean because of the small space they have available to grow and develop. This means that the development of plaque and tartar are not too far behind. To avoid dental health problems in Chihuahuas, owners should get familiar with the process of teeth cleaning in dogs and make sure they don’t skip regular dental checks at the vet.


Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar in dogs can affect small breeds such as Chihuahuas and owners should look out for the most common signs of these diseases: disorientation, lethargy, lack of appetite, and even seizures. Hypoglycaemia is sometimes linked to diabetes in dogs but it can also signal a different underlying illness.

That’s why it’s important to contact the vet as soon as these unusual symptoms start to manifest.

Fortunately, changes in their exercise routine and diet as recommended by the vet are likely to help manage this health problem in Chihuahuas. But medication might also be prescribed if the changes in lifestyle are not enough to keep the hypoglycaemia in check.


Chihuahuas may be born with a congenital defect called hydrocephalus which refers to an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Small breeds seem to be more affected by this condition and so it’s key for Chihuahua owners to be able to recognise the most common symptoms: a swollen head, seizures, disorientation, or loss of coordination. Although there is no cure for hydrocephalus, mild cases can be successfully managed through medication. However, unfortunately, in certain cases this health issue can be fatal. Talk to your vet if you’re worried your dog is displaying unusual symptoms which might be linked to hydrocephalus.

Open fontanel

Another possible health issue Chihuahua owners should be aware of is called open fontanel. The condition refers to soft spots on the top of the dog’s head caused by the incomplete closure of the skull during their development phase. Many dogs diagnosed with this condition go on to live a normal life, although they may have to be a bit less rambunctious than they would like to be. This is because even a small accident can lead to a serious head injury and so these pups should enjoy a quiet life. Dogs with this condition can also develop hydrocephalus, so talk to your vet about the diagnosis and ways to make sure your small pet stays well and healthy for years to come.
Chihuahuas may be prone to all sorts of medical problems, but that’s true of all dog breeds. Remember that the existence of these breed-specific issues is not a guarantee that your Chihuahua will be in and out of the vet’s office with these conditions. Being aware of what could affect your pet’s wellbeing gives owners a better chance of recognising unusual symptoms. It’s important to know the difference between the usual antics in Chihuahuas and abnormal behaviours that could be signs of an underlying illness.

Are you looking for more information about Chihuahuas? Check out our expert guide on this popular dog breed next.