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

famous chihuahua editor chihuahua facts, chihuahua health concerns 470 Comments

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 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 470

  1. Louise

    it’s so heartbreaking to read about these Chihuahuas and so infuriating for me to read about your health questions. hear is the scoop ALL these dogs need veterinary care asking for advice from the laypeople on this site is ridiculous any vet or lay staff who will give advice over the phone without laying eyes or hands on your chi r to be avoided @ all costs same for any vet who reccomends just a watch and wait treatment plan (i am assuming u don’t have a vet) is a lousy vet wickipeda,groomers,bredon’t know anything either unless their advice is to see a vet after working for veterinarians for 30 years i am so bloody sick of people w/little or no money waiting until a problem becomes a life threatening crisis it’s just a subtle, softer form of animal abuse and who pays? your chi when they’re euthanized because @ this point it’s the kindness option and don’t blame the vet for not treating your chi for free we all have bills to pay and so does your vet beg borrow try rescue org humane societies ect i am retired now and have moved too far to have any previous employer see my chi @ no change my only income is disability so i eat real cheap, use area food banks, cut my cable , get my wardrobe from thrift shops,ect so in other words before i brought my chi home i knew i would to drastically have to change my lifestyle to accommodate a pet. and it has been absolutely worth it !!!!!!

  2. Becca

    Please people, if you can’t afford to take you dog to the vet for treatment, you have no business having a pet!!!! If they are sick, TAKE THEM TO THE VET!!!!!! Don’t post on here hoping to get a diagnosis. Some of these dogs are clearly in need of medical help. 🙁

  3. Tammie Meeks

    I have a long haired chi that belonged to my mom. The chi is about 15 years old. This past summer the chi had problems with fleas. I tried just about anything and everything. She just started coughing a dry cough. She scratches all the time. Shes almost hairless on her backend. But thats not the worst….her hip area is very very boney. Almost like shes starving. But we feed her. Shes updated on all shots and i wash every 3 weeks.

  4. Sesley Finley

    I have a 15 year old chihuahua named sparky. I’ve had him since he was two months old he was given to me because the woman could not have him because she was moving into a nursing home and I’ve given him everything he’s ever needed or wanted he’s a happy chihuahua up until three days ago he’s had a cough for a few years that sounds like a goose and I took him to the vet she couldn’t tell me what was wrong. But it started three days ago he’s been acting strange not like himself at all he’s having trouble walking and he seems as if it’s painful to lay he kinda just gets all stiff and he seems kinda lost and he won’t look at you when you call his name to him and he shakes but these symptoms only come in hourly episodes. Please I’m reaching out to everyone and anyone this dog is the light of my life and I would be completely lost and devistated if I were to loose him can someone please help me.

  5. Irene luevano

    I have a adopted 4-5 yeay old chi
    She’s been having diarrhea.
    I adopted her about 2 1/2 months ago and she just started having diarrhea problems. I’ve need feeding her rice and dry dog food which she gobbles up like she never eaten before.
    Recently she been having diarrhea and it been about 2 weeks now. I’ve been giving her
    Chicken with rice for the diarrhea but it seems to come back after I stopped giving it to her. She was abused and devocalized and she is slowly attaching to me and doesn’t seem to have any other problems. She does eat a lot of grass and that worries me . I want to start her on something different to eat but don’t know what…… I thought chicken was good since she gobbles it all up.
    Ive read some articles on dogs with diarrhea and I’m thinking of not giving her the dry food because she may not be chewing and just swolling only. ….. any suggestion….. thank u for ur time!

  6. Marlene

    My chihuahua is about 14 years old. We adopted him from an abusive home. He has been fine up until last night when he started whining as if he is in pain. He has been peeing trickles of urine and and seems like he is having trouble to poop and does not want to eat or drink which is very strange cause he is a chunky dog and loves to eat. I know that the vet will be very expensive and I really cannot afford it. Can you pls pls sugguest anything that I can do for him to make him feel better?

  7. Neila Broussard

    My 1 yr. old chihuahua started having diarrhea last night, today he started limping. He doesn’t have any wounds on his foot or leg, no swelling but it seems to hurt. He doesn’t have much of an appetite.

  8. Cristine Diaz

    My 4 year old chi, Pete received his first bortadella shot a week ago yesterday at the vet. He weighs 6.5 pounds and already received his other shots from the time he was a puppy. Because we are going to board him at the vets in November for a week we scheduled this shot with the same vet. Last week he started sneezing , coughing and trying to clear his throat. It is the weekend and last nite he started inward hacking and
    sounding like he was strangling. I rubbed his throat and put him in bed with us and tried to distract him when he started to cough. I am caling the vet in the morning and taking him in. Is he having a reaction to the vaccination and is there anything I can do to help him till then?

  9. Dawn Whitesides

    I rescued a 1 1/2 yr old female, long haired, very abused, 1.5 Lb. tiny girl. She had breed before she was a yr old, and had to be rushed into a vet, because 1 of the 3 puppies she was giving birth to was, literally, stuck with the head out & the previous owner pulled on the puppy by the head so hard that she ended up having to rush the momma, (who I now have, & have named Penny), to the Vet’s, where she ended up having a C ~ Section & 3 pup’s, ( 2 of the 3 did not make it). So the Vet spayed her, and my I got a phone call about her, and I ended up rescuing her. Now she’s overweight & I’m trying to get her weight way down. But the last 2 to 3 days whenever we pick her up, by her rib cage/front leg’s, she screams in pain, and today she started vomiting yellowish/whitish foamy stuff. My husband & I always take our girl’s, (we also have a Chihuahua mix that we’ve had since she was 5 wks old, she’s now 4 1/2 yrs), to our daughter, or at least call her, because she’s a Vet. But we cannot do this because she’s Deer Hunting now, and I’m worried about my baby girl, Penny. She hasn’t eaten at all today, and she’s also kicking/jerking her back leg’s & burying her nose. Idk what to do?? I don’t think she’s bad enough to be taken to a Vet, not yet anyway. I’ve called a Vet in our erea & all they say is just keep an eye on her & if she gets worse than bring her in.

  10. Keely

    My chihuahua has a red eye, he scratches it and I have to clean it because his face down the side of his nose gets wet and red.
    He also has red ears and has started shaking his head but it doesn’t hurt him!
    Could it be due to me letting him swim in the sea? I’m in England and the seas are dull and not very clean. His eating is normal and so is his toilet routine, he’s getting a bit fat but he’s also still growing (he’s just turned 7 months)

  11. Lisa

    My little girl is named felice she’s about 10 years she’s list alit of weight now she just lays around she’s not wanting to eat or drink much I’m afraid she’s not going to make it much Longer I cant afford all the testing at the vet any home ideas to help her

  12. Rebecca

    My chihuahua is about 9 years old, we were gone on vacation came back and she was whining she finally stopped. I think she was just lonely but my son was home, we been home for over two weeks and now she is dripping and puffy around her belly. Don’t know if its her monthly or if she is sick. Seems to drink a lot of water and doesn’t want to eat much, she walks and then stops. Moody too….

  13. Jmv Villocillo

    Padme is my new 5 month old chihuahua. (
    got her as a gift when she was 2 months old) She is usually full of energy and so playful and one of her hobbies is biting me. But this morning. When I woke up to feed her. She can’t even stand at all and let alone eat with out my help holding her. I gave her milk which she drank and made her stand up and cheered her up a bit. But the night before she was so energetic and playful. And now she feels so light and so thin. What happened and what should I do?

  14. Crissy Pike

    My dog is coughing like a hacking cough and has been doing it a lot. She still drinks and eats and goes potty normal and is still playful. Should I be worried about the honking sound when she coughs?

  15. Stephanie

    My chihuahua is 8 years old. Male. He has been lethargic. Laying around and mostly sleeping (second day). He normally is active, playful with my femal chi, he would bark at the door when someone would come in and has hardly done any of it. He acts like he cannot jump up far at all like normal. Walking slow just long enough to lay down. Hes not eating a whole lot of drinking a lot.

  16. Sherry

    Hello Shawna,
    Do call your local SPCA in your area. I know here, Vancouver, BC they offer subsidized prices. Does not hurt to call.
    I have a week Chihuahua, age 14y, got him at 3 mnths, where does time go. He has been healthy but with age comes subtle changes.
    My best to you,
    Sherry/PerryX

  17. Shawna

    I own a beautiful little girl named kandi and kandi is 6 yrs old.
    Just recently about a day and a half ago kandi started breathing funny, almost like a fast panting and she won’t eat. We did get however get her to drink a little bit of water and she is urinating okay. The thing is, is that kandi is acting like her tummy hurts and when she did have a bowel movement it was like thick and sticky. Almost like she isn’t drinking enough water!
    I did notice that it looks like her chest on the left side is protruding. In retrospect I really don’t know what is going on with my dog! If anybody has any information please let me know. Thank you!
    I did take her to the vet and she didn’t have a fever but they wanted to charge me $600 for X-rays and blood work, which I can’t afford right now being disabled and on a fixed income. Any help would be appreciated. Please Just help me fix my kandi please!!Thank you again in advance.

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