symptoms and signs of a sick chihuahua: know when to see a veterinarian!

chihuahua doctor

your chihuahua can not explain its symptoms, so it’s your responsibility to keep him or her healthy and to determine whether or not they need veterinary care.  chihuahuas tend to want to hide their illness, so it is up to you to check your chihuahua for abnormalities.

you know your chihuahua best.  you will notice subtle early warning signs that someone else might not.  if any of the following chihuahua health care symptoms or signs of illness exist, call your veterinarian immediately.  do not wait – your chihuahua must be examined!

indications of a “sick chihuahua” include:

  • lethargy
  • disorientation
  • weakness
  • weight loss
  • seizure
  • lack of appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • unproductive retching, straining to urinate
  • bloody urine
  • difficulty or inability to walk
  • bleeding, pale mucous membranes
  • difficulty breathing and persistent cough

oh no, teaka the famous chihuahua has a boo boo!

it is also a good idea to learn simple health tips that could potentially save your chihuahua’s life in an emergency. this is a must for any chihuahua owner. the ultimate guide to taking care of your chihuahua contains all of this helpful chihuahua care information as well as valuable information for new chihuahua buyers and breeders.

be prepared: questions your veterinarian may ask

your veterinarian may ask additional questions to help localize or diagnose the problem. it may help to be prepared to answer some of the following questions:

  • how long have you owned your chihuahua?
  • where did you get your chihuahua (adoption center, breeder, previous stray)?
  • what other type of pets do you have?
  • what is the age of your chihuahua?
  • has your chihuahua experienced any previous illnesses?
  • is your chihuahua currently under treatment for an illness or disease?
  • what preventative medications is your chihuahua currently taking?
  • does your chihuahua receive consistent flea treatment?
  • are any other pets ill?
  • has he/she been vaccinated? if so, when? which vaccines?
  • have there been any recent pet acquisitions?
  • have there been any recent activities such as boarding, grooming, trip to the park?
  • is a majority of your chihuahua’s time spent indoors or outdoors?
  • have there been any recent changes in diet or eating habits?
  • what brand of food, how much and how frequently does your chihuahua eat?
  • what type of table scraps are offered and how frequently?
  • what type of treats are offered and how frequently?
  • how much water does your chihuahua typically drink per day?
  • have there been any recent changes in water consumption?
  • have you noticed any coughing or sneezing?
  • have you noticed any lumps or bumps on your chihuahua?
  • is your chihuahua urinating normally?
  • Is your dog having normal bowel movements?
  • when is the last time he/she had a bowel movement?
  • have you noticed any recent weight loss or weight gain?

after answering some general questions, more specific questions need to be answered. a brief cursory exam of your chihuahua at home can help you determine the answers. these questions are also commonly asked when chihuahua owners are seeking help over the phone.

know when to take your chihuahua to see a veterinarian!

be prepared to answer the following questions, depending on the problem with your chihuahua:

regarding the eyes

  • have you noticed an increase or decrease in tear production?
  • do the eyes appear cloudy or red?
  • have you noticed any discharge coming from the eyes?
  • do the eyes appear bloodshot?
  • are the pupils the same size in both eyes?
  • have you noticed your chihuahua rubbing or pawing at the eyes?
  • is your chihuahua squinting?
  • do the eyes appear to be sunken or excessively protruding?

regarding the ears

  • do you notice any swelling or discharge from the ears?
  • are the ears drooping when they normally stand erect?
  • are the ears red and inflamed?
  • do you notice any odor to the ears?
  • is your chihuahua rubbing or pawing at the ears?
  • have you noticed a lot of head shaking?
  • have you noticed any pain or crying when you rub or scratch your chihuahua’s ears?

regarding the nose

  • have you noticed any congestion, sneezing or coughing?
  • have you noticed any blood coming from the nose?
  • have you noticed any nasal discharge?

regarding the mouth

  • have you noticed any swelling of the lips or tongue?
  • have you noticed any bleeding from the mouth?
  • what color are the gums – tissue just above the teeth?

looking inside the mouth

  • are there any foreign objects such as bones or sticks stuck on the roof of the mouth or around the teeth?
  • is your chihuahua able to open and close the mouth normally?
  • is there any pain involved in opening or closing the mouth?
  • have you noticed any excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth?
  • is your chihuahua able swallow food normally?

regarding the chest

  • is your chihuahua experiencing any difficulty breathing?
  • have you noticed excessive panting?
  • is there any pain when the chest area is petted?
  • have you noticed any recent coughing?
  • is the heartbeat steady and consistent?
  • what is the heart rate?

place your hand or your ear on the left side of your chihuahua’s chest, just behind the elbow. you should be able to feel or hear the heartbeat. count how many beats the heart pumps in one minute.

regarding the abdomen/stomach area

  • has your chihuahua been having any diarrhea or vomiting?
  • is your chihuahua able to eat and drink normally?
  • does the abdomen/stomach area appear swollen or distended?
  • does your chihuahua appear to be in pain when the stomach area is petted?
  • is your chihuahua known to chew on non-food items such as clothing, towels, rocks, or other items?

regarding the urinary and reproductive systems

  • have you noticed any difference in urinating?
  • does your chihuahua seem to strain to urinate or cry in pain?
  • does your chihuahua repeatedly try to urinate with no urine produced?
  • is there any blood in the urine?
  • how frequently does your chihuahua urinate?
  • is your female chihuahua spayed?
  • has your female ever had puppies? if so, at what age?
  • if your female is not spayed, when was her last heat cycle and was she bred?
  • do you notice any discharge from the vaginal area?
  • is your male chihuahua neutered? if so, at what age?
  • do you notice any discharge from the penis?
  • if your chihuahua is not neutered, do you notice any swelling of the testicles?
  • have you noticed your chihuahua excessively licking or grooming the genital area?

regarding the musculoskeletal system – bones and joints

  • have you noticed any limping?
  • are any legs or joints swollen?
  • has your chihuahua been excessively licking at one area of his/her legs?
  • does your chihuahua show signs of pain when walking?
  • is your chihuahua able to walk normally?
  • does your chihuahua walk on his/her knuckles?
  • does your chihuahua drag any legs when walking?
  • does your chihuahua seem to be in pain when petting him or her?

by supplying the answers these questions, your veterinarian will be in a much better position to help your chihuahua. additional tests may be necessary to find out what the problem is, but the answers to the above questions can greatly narrow the area of concern.

chihuahua with veterinarian

please note that famous chihuahua is providing this information to chihuahua owners as a guide so you know when to take your chihuahua to see your veterinarian.

the editor of famous chihuahua would like to encourage chihuahua owners to follow this advice as their rule of thumb as to when to take their chihuahua to the vet:

if at any time your chihuahua is showing signs or symptoms of illness and discomfort, don’t wait, just go the vet!

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Comments 398

  1. karla

    My chihuahua was given to a family friend after i had a stroke but i was called late saturday because she was worried about lola because she has not used the bathroom and was not eating and only drinking and she is unable to get on her paws at all. i picked her up and as soon as i got her home offered her food and water and she ate well. but did not stand and did not use the bathroom still late this morning. i have fed her white rice and chicken and water and she has eaten but has not gotten up on her paws and not used the bathroom. i have called several vets to have her seen today but because the lack of monies no one would see her. some one please help me help lola!!

  2. Karen

    My female long haired chihuahua is 8 years old and has always been healthy. The last 3 days she hasn’t eaten much at all and has vomited a few times. She seemed better this morning but this evening she keeps gagging as if to throw up and is lethargic. Her abdomen is pulsating up and down non stop, not sure if it’s because she wants to vomit? Really worried, what do you think?

  3. Kara

    My chihuahua has not been herself for three days. She hasn’t eaten , she drinks very little and has been vomiting for three days as well. We normally keep her indoors except to go outside for the bathroom. I know she seems to want to eat things she shouldn’t but i thought that was normal for puppies. I also have a concern about flee’s. We have constantly bathed her to keep the flee’s from irritating her but i have noticed a raw spot behind her ear. She is normally full of energy and for three days has done nothing but lay down or sit very awkwardly. Please help with any suggestions.

  4. Tom S.

    Hello everyone,
    This comment is to Kristina about the dog having a dry cough . Was it from a hair ball and is there any kind of medicine or other remedy I could use to remove it.

  5. Angie

    I have a two-year-old male Chihuahua that is fixed . This morning when I got up at 7 AM I noticed a small amounts of throw up downstairs about the size of a quarter. It is a 30° temperature change in Colorado today going from 91° yesterday to 62° today … He has been sitting on my lap and wants to be under a blanket is shivering when he is not . He normally barks at anything that walks by and gets very excited when I offer him a treat… Today he has not wanted to do anything but sit on my lap. About an hour ago I noticed a red watery substance near my trashcan I did not know if he urinated as it does not have any smell or if it was something that one of the kids spilt but this very hyperactive dog is not wanting to play eat treats eat or go anywhere other than on my lap today Is there anything I should be watching for his heartbeat seems normal I just cannot figure out what he may have gotten into

  6. Bill prince


  7. Jennifer

    I have Chihuahua, he is 11 years old, his chin has started quivering, almost like chattering, is this something to be concerned about? Does it hurt him?

  8. christie

    I have a 7 week old pup thats mother died.. she will eat small amounts of wet dog food 5 times a day but refuses to drink this enough fluids for her or should i be giving her the milk suppliment that u can get from the vet?? Shes very playful doesnt seem sickly..please help me

  9. Nacin

    i bought my chihuahua like 2 months ago from
    Craigslist and I noticed she was limping from her
    Left leg and 2 weeks later I noticed on her limping
    Leg that she had 2 little balls on her leg and all her
    Hair from that leg was missing and it’s pink where there’s hair missing. Everything else is fine good
    Appetite etc.

  10. Pingback: the most common signs of illness in your chihuahua (and what to do about it) | famous chihuahua

  11. tonysam

    My 11 year old chi has just started walking kind of funny. His hind legs at times look like he is walking in slow motion. He is not in pain and he can run and jog normally. I just started giving him glucosamine to see if that helps him. I have reduced his walks this winter and think he might be losing some muscle mass as a result.

  12. Missy vesprina

    I have a male Chihuahua that jus turned 3 months and 2weeks old. He has never acted sick but for the past two days all he does is sleep. He threw up his puppy food so I gave him rice n chicken and he threw it up too. He can’t keep down even water. His other siblings died due to parvo after a month of their birth. My baby is the only one that survived and I’m super scared.

  13. Destiny

    I have a chihuahua Sparky 2 1/2 years old boy and one day he starts to vomit and not hungry or thirsty and all he wants to do is lay down he doesn’t jump on the couch and he’s front pawl was in pain.what do I do need help ASAP PLEASE HELP ME AND SPARKY!

  14. Christina

    I have a 12 1/2 year old chihuahua; she is the love of my husbands life (besides me of course). about two months ago she started going blind and now is totally blind. Today we discovered she has urinary incontinence when she sleeps at night. She is eating and drinking normal and she has no problem in incontinence during the day. Since she is totally blind now she sleeps a great deal. She still tries to play but she does get tired easily. Should I be concerned with the blindness and incontinence; I wonder if it is just age. She recognizes everyone and gives hugs and kisses to whoever is holding her. Taking her to the vet is hard for us because we are living on my husbands disability. Any advice is welcome. Thank you for reading.

  15. ashley

    Hey all, my Chihuahua boy, glitch, is 6 months old. He is very active and healthy and shows no signs of pain. He has recently though, started favoring sticking his tongue out to the left side. Once in awhile I will catch it just barely sticking out but its most noticeable when he licks my hand or takes food from me. as I said hes active and healthy in every other way with no sign of pain, also teeth are all there, he does shake (shiver) sometimes but I have read that is normal for them. was just wondering if anyone else has experienced this with there chi.

  16. Kristina

    Please, if your dog is dry coughing (sounds like a hair ball) take them to the vet immediately. We just lost our baby of 12 years because people said it was just something chihuahuas do so we thought he could wait one day to go to a vet in the morning when they opened instead of a vet hospital. They were wrong, we left for only two hours and he was dead when we came home. We are devastated and our loss is huge, he had a lot more years to live. I regret listening to anyone and I would go spend the extra money if it could have him here today!

  17. tiffany


  18. Aletha place

    I have a puppy that’s a little over 2months old he been fine I had him since he was old enough to get rid of and and the other day he stopped eating and drinking n today he lost the energy to play but gets around n follows me every where I took his temp n it was normal but I gave him pedialight and I have to give it to him by a seringe n he wants to lay down but there is no blood or diareah in his stool what should I do

  19. Erica

    Amanda, it sounds like your chihuahua is reverse sneezing. Mine does it too, usually isolated, but sometimes flares up due to allergies. He has a prescription antihistamine from the vet that keeps him from having reverse sneezes all day that I give him as necessary :)

  20. Missy

    I agree with several people here….acting like a stuck up jerk saying we need to have our animals taken because we couldn’t pay a ton of money EVEN THOUGH WE WOULD LOVE TO is heartless!!!! Who the hell are you people? I notice not ONE OF YOU ANSWERED THE PLEADING QUESTIONS OF THE 12 year old girl. Not one!!! But you were very quick to say how terrible people are and how “disgusting” it is. For your info you pompous asses, I don’t have emergency vets where I live. Not one. Closest one is two hours and a min of $400 to walk in the door with no financing available. Ask me how I know? My dog was choking. I googled how to help her because regardless of my bank account she would have been dead by the time I got her there….two hours away!!!! So why don’t you all stop acting high and mighty and step off your soapbox of perfection. Your cruel! We love our pets. Dearly!!!! And my vet is worthless here. So I go the two hours for exams etc, but for an emergency my animals have no hope unless I educate myself. So stuff it and try acknowledging that little girl for once?

  21. tiara

    Hi my Chihuahua seems to just have a mild cold but I really want to be sure. All she’s been doing the past 2days is sleeping and she’s usually the life of the party. Full of energy and life. Well she doesn’t seem to be in any pain. My boyfriend Nd I were recently sick Lilly sleeps in the bed wit us right under our heads so I’m thinking that’s where she got is from. For the first time today she threw us white form it was very little she’s shivering like she cold all the time. She won’t eat or drink anything. I don’t have any money to take Her to a vet so I, praying you can help me and it’s not a serious case. Right now I have her in the bathroom wit steaming hot water running from the shower. She’s asleep. There’s not pain. So that’s y I’m thinking it’s nothing serious. Please help!!!!!

  22. Hayley

    My pup is showing no sign of being sick yet throw up a bit of blood last night . Shes eatting , playing ect just fine . No diarrhea just blood in her throw up once last night around 3am

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