Health Issues, Symptoms and Treatment

nadia chihuahua facts, chihuahua health concerns 86 Comments

A Healthy Chihuahua Puppy

To ensure the health and well-being of your chihuahua, you need to be aware of possible health concerns, especially during the first 16 weeks of their life.

The following health information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or replace the care of a veterinarian. It is also not intended to dissuade you from obtaining a Chihuahua. After about 6 months of age, Chihuahuas are generally healthy little dogs which live a long lifespan.


Even though Chihuahuas need to be socialized at an early age, it is best to avoid taking your pet to the park, on walks in the neighborhood, or around other unknown pets until it has been fully vaccinated and has a fully developed immune system (usually 16 weeks of age). This is because until your Chihuahua has had its full set of vaccinations, its immune system may not be properly equipped to handle diseases with which it could come in contact. Your puppy could easily get worms, parvovirus, or coccidia from contaminated feces or ground. Unfortunately, these diseases can live in feces and on the ground for many days and can be easily transmitted to a puppy. Puppies are very curious of their new surroundings and will go smelling around the ground and trees where another contaminated dog or cat may have left their markings.

Symptoms: Symptoms could vary widely, depending on which disease your puppy has come in contact with. Parvovirus often causes either depression, vomiting, diarrhea and/or cardiac problems (Myocarditis). Myocarditis usually results in the puppy stopping nursing, crying out, and gasping for breath. Coccidiosis can cause diarrhea, dehydration, appetite loss, and anemia.

Treatment: Seek veterinary treatment immediately if your puppy has come in contact with any of these diseases and has not been fully vaccinated, as they can cause death in your puppy. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Avoid contact with other animals and unknown places prior to full vaccination of your puppy. Have those people who handle the puppy wash their hands before handling. Since parvovirus can also be carried on the bottom of your shoes, it is a good idea to keep shoes that you wear outdoors from contacting any area where the puppy sleeps/plays.

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

Because Chihuahuas have such a small fat reserve around their liver, they are prone to low blood sugar. Although this can occur at any time, it’s especially important to watch your new puppy due to his small size.

Symptoms: Lethargy, lack of coordination (stumbling, falling, staggering), followed by coma and death if not treated.

Treatment: Although you should always consult your veterinarian for the proper treatment of your particular Chihuahua, you can keep some sugar handy (e.g. Maple Syrup, pure honey) to boost your little friend’s blood sugar level stays when it starts dropping. The Vitacal supplement is essential for any pet owner’s medicine chest. It is specially formulated to give your pet the nutrition it needs and fast. It has been known to bring a puppy suffering from low blood sugar immediately out of the beginning stages of a coma. It also has high potency vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates which your puppy needs. Because it is high in B vitamins, Vitacal can actually stimulate your pet to start eating right again. We recommend it be taken home or purchased immediately after taking home a Chihuahua weighing less than a pound and a half. It can very easily save his life. It costs less than $5.00, much less than an emergency trip to the vet. VitaCal is especially beneficial for pets that are stressed (due to a change in environment or a new home) or recovering from illness or injury. It is also specially formulated to be gentle on sensitive digestive tracts, and can also be used for kittens. Each ounce provides 90 kiloCalories of usable energy. VitaCal can be ordered from Drs. Foster & Smith, R.C. Steel, or Becky’s Chihuahuas. Or you may be able to obtain it through your veterinarian.

For severe cases of low blood sugar, your veterinarian may need to give an IV of a sugar solution. As a precaution, you can always make sure that when you’re going to be away for a while that your little friend eats before you go and that you leave him food for when you’re gone. Don’t feed him candy, as this can cause the blood sugar level to surge and then drop drastically.

Slipped Stifle (Luxating Patella)

Slipping knee joints (also referred to as luxating patellas, slipped stifles) are a common problem in small breeds. In this condition, the kneecap slips out of its groove and moves against the thighbone (femur) instead of along its natural groove. Although this has been found to be a heritable condition, small, active breeds are likely to aggravate it through the course of their natural activities (jumping up and down) around taller objects such as furniture.

Symptoms: Rear leg lameness, shifting from one leg to another, hopping and/or skipping, and an inability to fully extend the leg, and can result in arthritis over time. Some breeders recommend doing one of the following when buying a puppy to determine if it may have a predisposition to a slipped stifle: (1) See if young puppy’s back legs cross at the ankles when lying on its back. (2) See if young puppy sits up straight, rather than leaning, when sitting on his haunches.

Treatment: See a good veterinary surgeon who can diagnose the severity of the problem and recommend the correct treatment. Treatment usually involves correcting the problem surgically, where the type of surgery is determined by the severity of the condition. If treated early enough, the condition can be repaired such that the pet can lead a normal, healthy life.

Stress (common)

Because Chihuahuas are such a small breed, stress (such as diet changes, moving to a new home, etc) can affect them physically.

Symptoms: Coughing, Diarrhea, Hypoglycemia, Infection

Treatment: Always check first with your veterinarian to rule out a more serious reason for these symptoms, but coughing, diarrhea, and low blood sugar are fairly common Chihuahua responses to stress. Many of these symptoms are temporary and will go away once the Chihuahua gets used to their new environment or situation. Of course, you need to treat low blood sugar as described above. Because stress can cause the immune system to become depressed, this may make the puppy susceptible to bacterial and/or viral infections. Your veterinarian will best be able to diagnose this and prescribe antibiotics in the case of a bacterial infection.


Because Chihuahuas are so small and because vaccine manufacturers recommend giving the same amount of vaccine to a Chihuahua as to a Saint Bernard, Chihuahuas may be more susceptible to vaccine related problems.

Possible Symptoms: Lethargy, depression, and possibly death

Treatment: Vaccines are a very controversial subject and one you should discuss with your veterinarian. The information presented here is just an opinion and not to be used as a substitute for proper veterinary advice. Many Chihuahua breeders were losing puppies a few days after giving vaccines (especially the tiny ones) and once they started giving half doses of vaccines (the killed vaccines rather than the modified live ones), and they quit losing their puppies. Logically, you would wonder: “Why give the same dose of a vaccine to a 90 pound dog that you would to a 3 pound dog?” Even within the breeding community, there is dissension about which vaccines to give. One breeder has quit giving the Leptospirosis Vaccine to their puppies based upon research at Kansas State University that suggests that there are more reactions to this vaccine than to others, and that Leptospirosis is pretty rare. Another breeder has not had any problems with this particular vaccine, although it is not given to their pups until 4 months of age. In the final analysis, the decision when and how much to vaccinate is left to the owner’s and their veterinarian’s discretion.

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Comments 86

  1. Holly

    To everyone else, when your dog acts sick or hurt, take them to the vet. Vet prices vary widely! Some are shockingly high & many very reasonable. Call around & ask how much a visit costs or how much vaccines cost, etc. dogs can’t tell you if they aren’t feeling well. Usually by the time symptoms are bad enough to be noticed by the owner, the problem has probably been coming on for a good while. If they are acting odd, depressed, withdrawn, helping when you pick them up, take them to the vet! Even if your only symptom that “your dog just isnt acting herself”. People know their dogs & vets know this. If they are not acting themselves, then something is wrong. It is cruel for you not to get them care when they need it, they can’t take themselves to the vet, & cant tell you how bad they are feeling or how much pain they are in. Pkwase consider these things & ALWAYs take your dog in & not sit there and have them suffer while you hope the problem goes away. A good vet will work with you or direct you where to go if expense is a problem. Oh, & to the person who’s dog shakes their head & falls down. Take her to vet. Ear infections are very painful & can cause deafness. Take that baby to the vet please people.

  2. Holly

    Stacey, what you described what your chi is doing sounds just like my sisters boxer symptoms. He gets this awaits stare & starts bobbing his head like he is catching flies. My sis scoured the Internet b/c the vets didn’t know what it was & he didn’t do it all the time. She found something called Bobble Head Syndrome. Common in boxers. She read that it is due to low blood sugar. At the time, we had went to leaving food out all the tine, to feeding them twice a day. So, we figured that was the problem. We went back to having food out for them all the time & he hasn’t had it since. Appears to have been due to drop in blood auger due to us feeding them only twice a day. We think that he just wasn’t eating enough to sustain him to the next feeding. Hope this helps!

  3. Christina

    Hi there, i just recently got a baby toy CHi and she is awesome, but very , very tiny. I have had some problems with her health, she has had some sugar drops and some upset stomach and bowels. I took her to the vet and they gave her an antibiotic for her an antiboitic in the sulfa drug line. It did help her, but now we are back to the upset stomach and bowels and being lazy. It’s not due to sugar drops that is causing her to act like this, because i have kept up with the nutra -cal. She is now 12 weeks old and weighs 1 lb and 3 oz. I had a good vet so i thought, until she needed to be seen one morning and they would not work her in, so i am searching for another caring vet. I love my baby Tinka and i am going to do what it takes to help her get healthy. Good luck to everyone.

  4. Kim

    I have my little chloe in the last week her left ear has become hyper sinstive and when she trys to shake her head she goes down on her tummy all legs out and looks at u as to say wow what happened is this just an infection or something more please some advice would help also I read they need calicum and karo syrup why is this and how much is what she would need I am lost she was my daughters dog but she is now mine and I am lost as to over all health. Thanks

  5. Lorain

    My buttercup is almost 8years. For the past month she has not been herself. she become mellow. less agressive and not as loving she sleeps all day . she dosn’t what to go out for her walk. sshe seems so sad. she sometime yelpse when i pick her up. please help

  6. stacey

    Hi, I have a 3 1/2 year old male Chihuahua that is acting very strange. he will pace back and forth on the edge of my bed really fast and bob his head up and down and side to side. He acts like he sees things or trying to catch flies that are not there. He hasn’t slept in days the vet gave him something to help him sleep but that hasn’t even worked. This has been happening on and off for over a month now and i’m getting really worried. I have her sister as well and she used to get the same thing but not as bad but she hasn’t had any problems for over a month now. what could it be… please help

  7. Angel

    I just got my first Chihuahua. I was told he was house broken and in good health. I first realized he’s not house broken, though with direction will use a piddle pad. Secondly I noticed he’s a trash digger. Leaving me to believe he was a back yard pup who learned a meal could be found in the garbage. I think he prefers garbage as I have had a mess trying to get him to eat the right foods. Finally..I noticed a tint knot on top his head which appeared to be in the skin, as it moved when the skin moved. I watched it & thought it had gone away, but realized it had moved further back on his head. As of yesterday..his whole top head is full of these tiny,pin head sized knots. Does anybody know what they are ? The cause & how to rid them?

  8. Donna

    My boy is 10yrs old. he has epilepsy, and thyriod problems. Took him in for blood test. He his gained 2 lbs in the last three months. Looks hard and puffy on main cavity. Should I get x-ray, or we are getting fat, diet and walking first?

  9. chi owner

    I own 4 chis, they were all rescues from the local shelter and vary in age from 8 weeks up to 2years. When i got them they were in horrible condition, one was said it may not make it. i offer this advice as an experienced owner, please cook your dogs food and don’t feed them that crap they try to sell you “dog food”. your babies are so small and the food in dog food is just food that was deemed “not fit for human consumption”. an easy recipe is to take fresh ground turkey breast, brown rice, a teaspoon of flax-seed oil and veggies such as cauliflower, peas, carrots and / or beans and make a mix. You can cook several days worth and store it in Tupperware / freeze excess. I buy the veggies in the frozen section and just steam them in the microwave, couldn’t be easier and your babies will gobble them up….they will be healthier, have a much shinier coat!

  10. Taylor

    i just recently got a toy chihuahua for graduation she will be 8 weeks old this coming up Saturday. She has had some diarrhea and was walking funny yesterday when i came home from school at 1:30 and i fed her and she was better. well today i came home from school and i went and tanned and got home about 2. well she was very lethargic could barely stand and she couldn’t hold her head up i was freaking out thinking she was going to die well i was about to take her to the vet but i wanted to give her some wet food first to see if she had an appetite and she ate it but she fell over in it and rolled she was so sick and weak. i took her to the vet and they got me seen really quick she had perked up some since i got home from school she could stand now and move around he said her blood sugar was 23 and it was supposed to be like 130 or something … im really glad i came home when i did or she could have died. hypoglycemia can be really scary because low blood sugar can kill you in a very short amount of time… he gave me something called “nutri-cal” it looks like honey or caramel and she actually really likes it he told me to give it to her 4 or 5 times a day. she was so much better after giving her the nutri-cal she is still very tired but she has her playful moments. shes still very wobbly and weak when walking and she doesn’t really want to walk right now. im hoping she will be better by tomorrow. it’s really scary knowing this can happen to your pets. i already worry constantly about stepping on her or someone else stepping on her haha i love my baby girl 🙂

  11. misty

    i have a min chihuahua hes bout a yr old weve moved around alot but the past three days hes acting sick. Hes laying around hes usually a hyper dog n hes crys when u touch him every now n again he eats but not much ive been giving him pedialyte to help bt what else should i do i believe hes depressed bt wats up with the symptoms

  12. Ariel

    my dog is about three months and today she has been acting weird. She has been sniffing around the house as if shes finding something, she sometimes has a ‘tear’ i think on her face, she is reacting to small noises like a zipper being zipped and shes really tired. We had company come over and she was touched alot and she was playing around… and we just got her 3 shots 2 days ago…. so is my puppy sick or is she just tired?

  13. Teresa

    hello…I have a 10 week old chihuahua. My husband brought him home 3 days ago. We immediately noticed that he was not acting like a normal puppy usually does. He has been peeing, but not drinking alot of water. He was not eating at all. The 3rd day we had to take him to the vet immediately, since he litterally slept the whole time and we spotted bright red blood spots in his feces. They said he was probably depressed and gave him sugar water to bring his blood sugar up and we have been feeding from a serringe since he wont eat on his own. We have fed him since yesterday, 4 times a day, every 3-4 hours and he still isnt up and aware, he has been sleeping all day and his feces still had some blood and i honestly do not know what to do. We called the vet back to update him on our baby but he never called us back.

  14. Bill

    I have a new litter of 4 puppies. For some reason now I am greatly in fear of vaccinations for them.. they are the smallest babies I have ever seen and I am very attached to all of them … They are now 6 and 1/2 weeks old and regular little members of our household.. The smallest male is probably barely over a pound and a complete riot.. I am keeping all of the puppies LOL… What should I do as far as vaccinations go? I have always given all my other dogs their shots myself , but now I’m worried to do so and even more afraid to have the local vet do this.. any advice here would be great…

  15. miguel

    i bot a tea cup chihuahua puppy i dont no how old he is but he vomiting diarrhea a lil bit has worms doesn’t move as much crying every other hour i don’t like this it scary i gave him his fomer an water also so pediatric he going to the vet at 8:30 am i hope its not that bad i gave him a gift for my girlfriend for xmas any help plz!!!!!!

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  18. RachylovesSoco

    I saw some questions on here about your puppy being lethargic, vomiting, diarrhea, not eating or drinking… I advise anyone whose dog is acting in any of these ways to bring him to the vet now! Do not wait to go to your regular vet if they are not available go to the 24hr Pet Hospital NOW! I just receieved a yorkie pup for my graduation present from college. I only had him for less than 24 hrs and he quickly became very ill. He had all the symptoms of Parvo and he was only 10 weeks old at 2lbs. I took him to the emergency vet as quick as I could. They told me he would have died in less than 3 hrs. He only lived for about 10 hrs at the vet. He flat lined twice and was revived thro CPR/Oxygen. Even tho I am so sad and fell in love with the day I saw him, PLEASE dont wait. The vet could really help you saved your little loved one. Mine did not make it but I hope and pray for all the other lil pups out there who have Parvo! Give your sick babies a kiss on their head for me and I hope and pray everything will be ok. Just please the vet is your best bet DON’T WAIT!!

  19. dawneekfunqnstuff

    please have your lil chihuahuas checked for elevated liver enzymes and possible liver infection. We had to take our 6 month old deer chi to the vet this week, she was lethargic and threw up. She looked like she could have lost consciousness any second. Her stools had a very toxic odor although they were normal in color the consistancy varied. She never had diaherria at any time. The vet drew blood and we rushed it to our local hospital. The results were that she had contracted a liver infection somehow. Be very careful with your precious chi. These types of infections can kill your wee friend if left unchecked. She was put on Amoxicillan antibiotic and special diet food. She is doing much better although she doesn’t care much for the diet food. Poor Moezha!! We love her so much, she is so loving and cuddly. We think it is because she is 3/4 apple chi and 1/4 deer chi. She has the best temperment and she is full of energy and personality. Her favorite pasttime is meeting new people!!! She gives kisses and does such cute antics… like a forward roll onto her back for a couple of Zerberts. You know… rasberries on her tummy!!! She just loves it!! Anyway, Please get your chi to the vet if she suddenly acts lathargic, refuses water and food, throws up and her feces have a strong icky odor.
    They will thank you for it!!!!

  20. irene henle

    I just found your site.It is very helpful.
    I just gave Zoey girl (6yrs.) some organic honey.
    I am hoping this might help her have a little more energy.She is a rescue dog and had a very stressful life before being rescued.
    Thank you for the excellent advice

  21. Val

    My 10 year old chihuahua/terrier coughs back up quite a bit of the water he drinks from his dish. This happens every time he drinks. I give him filtered water, elevated the bowl, keep the bowl clean – any ideas?

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