We've created a first draft document containing important information to keep your Chihuahua healthy and active.
· Vaccinated with DHPP “Canine distemper vaccine” - This is the most common combination vaccine given to dogs. The initials DHPP refer to the diseases included in the vaccine. Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo and Parainfluenza
· Vaccinated with Nobivac L4 for active immunisation of dogs against: L. interrogans and L. kirschneri
Boosters are due annually
Our recommended treatment routine
· Every 3 months: treatment with ½ of Drontal bone per dog (1-5KG)
· Treatment monthly with advocate (0.4ml) (1-4kg)
· A lot of pet owners believe that worming/flea treatment is optional, we’d recommend you stick to a consistent preventative routine
· We find the best method is to set a reminder on your phone.
A handy tip if you’re struggling to feed a drontal ½ bone to your dog is to crush it into a powder and mix with a small amount of butter.
Other top products and suggestions
· Grooming: try not to over wash, especially during the winter months, pet heads dry shampoo is excellent for a quick clean. Link: http://goo.gl/QPyV52
· Also, Chihuahuas normally have a top (silky) and bottom (downy) coat. We don’t recommend any cutting/trimming or grooming until they’ve developed their adult coat after 1 year plus. Even then the only product we really use is a furminator http://www.furminator.com/ which removes the undercoat, leaving a silky smooth coat behind. This can reduce shedding by up to 90%
Types of Chihuahua
Firstly, at www.TheChihuahua.Club we specialise in long haired Chihuahuas and therefore have limited experience with their short haired counterpart, in the UK our Kennel Club classes them as two distinct breeds whose mating is not valid.
The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom and the American Kennel Club in the United States recognise only two varieties of Chihuahua: the long-coat, and the smooth-coat, also referred to as short-haired.
The texture of a short haired chi can vary from very short and soft like a plush toy, to more coarse and wiry. The long haired Chihuahua can take up to two full years to develop its full coat (which can lead to awkward in between stages) but it usually pays off with an adorable fluffy coat of long guard hairs on top of a full, downy undercoat.
Long haired Chihuahuas typically require less grooming than other long haired breeds, and shed less than short haired chis.
Chihuahuas that conform to show requirements for both the UK and America Kennel clubs need to meet an upper weight limit of 6lbs, although in the UK they prefer dogs between 2lbs and 4lbs. There is no height requirement but typically a smaller Chihuahua is considered more desirable (for show!).
Pet Chihuahuas come in many more shapes and weights and it is not unusual to see purebred chis as large as 10lbs.
We’d recommend very little grooming until your Chihuahua has reached maturity. http://www.furminator.com/ is an excellent brush for removing the downy undercoat, reducing shedding by “up to 90”, couple this with a dry shampoo, particularly in winter when it’s imperative to keep your Chihuahua dry and warm http://www.pethead.com/products/pet-head-dry-clean-spray-shampoo.
The teacup myth
Let's put this to rest shall we? There's no such thing as a "teacup", "micro", "pocket", tiny-toy", "standard" nor "mini" Chihuahua. They come in one size - it may vary, but they are not like Poodles who have Standard, Medium, Miniature and Toy varieties.
If someone is trying to sell you a puppy under the guise of "teacup" you're being cheated. It's one thing for a breeder to have a line of very small dogs, but it's an entirely other thing to claim that their Chihuahuas are of a particular type beyond smooth or long coat.
However, we do sometimes have a ‘runt’ available or can predict that one of our puppies is of a smaller stature. This is not an exact science. We invested a lot of time in search for our stud dog Elvis, who has a very petite build at less than 2kg and this has an obvious impact on the size of his progeny.
Feeding your Chihuahua
Just like with people, a quality diet for your dog will help them manage their weight, their energy and their health. With this in mind you should feed your dog the best quality food you can afford (and one that your dog will actually eat, which - with Chihuahuas, can be tricky).
Unless you regularly grocery shop at Wholefoods (in which case, how !!!????) it is best to avoid grocery store petfoods such as Pedigree, Kibbles and Bits, Iams and Purina. Although the advertising campaigns for these foods often feature gorgeous, healthy dogs, the ingredients tell another story.
If you'd like to learn more about the individual ingredients in common brands of pet food check out the Dog Food Project
The crash course on dog food ingredients is as follows. Dogs are not meant to eat grains, including whole grains. They thrive on meat! (Although a little vegetables can do them good too, in moderation). Commercial dog food is typically made of fillers such as corn, potato peels, oat grain husks and soy flour. Just like in the wild right? Don't let the pictures of falling steak and carrots food you. There's no steak or carrots in that bag of food.
So what should you feed them? Good question.
Thank you Eukanuba! We've partnered up to ensure every puppy receives the official Eukanuba "for an extraordinary start in life" puppy kit. This is in addition to our very own starter pack. There are so many different opinions on the matter of food. A good quality food is very important. We feed our puppies a wet food initially, then gradually introduce Eukanuba small breed puppy kibble, and finally Eukanuba small breed adult kibble.
Raw (frozen and dehydrated)
Over the last few years Raw food (as with grain free) has become wildly accepted as the highest quality of nutrition you can provide for your dog. While traditional foods are sort of like the McDonalds of dog food, feeding raw is like the farmer's market, cooking at home, no more sugar diet. Older dogs and small dogs do exceptionally well on a raw diet.
Raw diets consist of raw meat, organs, bones and some fruit & vegetables, typically ground into a "hamburger patty" and frozen until ready to serve. They are very nutritionally dense and require less quantity than a kibble diet (it's really very cheap to feed a Chihuahua raw since they eat so little).
Some advantages of raw are smaller, firmer, cleaner, smaller poops, less tissue inflammation (and less stiffness seen in older dogs), reduced or no more dog smell, no more weird greasy residue on fur (and eventually a dog that feels like a stuffed animal - soft!), less pickiness in Chihuahuas, better health overall!
If you're squeamish regarding handing raw meat you can buy dehydrated raw diets that you simply mix with water -but I urge you to give the raw, frozen type a try. You simply take out a patty, or nugget and let it thaw in your fridge overnight, then using a small scale you measure out the correct weight for your dog and watch them go nuts over it.
Common medical conditions
As one of the oldest breeds of dog Chihuahuas are medically very "stable". Though they do have a series of common complaints they are a resilient breed. Due to their small size however medical emergencies such as poisoning should be addressed immediately.
Reverse Sneezing ("honking")
Q. Sometimes when my dog gets excited, or out of breath it starts to make a choking/gasping/honking noise while sucking in air. What's going on?
The medical term for this is Mechanosensitive Aspiration Reflex or Paroxysmal Respiration. It's common in small dogs, particularly in Chihuahuas and it's nothing to panic about. It's commonly known as reverse sneezing, though some people just call it honking.
The soft palate, which is a fleshy bit at the back of your Chihuahuas mouth, can sometimes spasm (or come "misaligned) causing this honking reaction as they try to settle it. Typically an episode will end on its own but you can sometimes help your dog out of it by gently stroking their throat, or if the episode was started by excitement, soothing them back down to neutral (be the chi whisperer).
Reverse sneezing appears a lot worse than it is, generally posing no health threats whatsoever. It can be exacerbated in some dogs by seasonal allergies or dust and in some cases nasal mites (Pneumonyssoides caninum). If you find that your dog is having many severe pharyngeal spasms you might speak to your vet about testing for nasal mites that could be a source of irritation - however reverse sneezing is very common in Chihuahuas so don't panic! In some dogs it starts at birth, others only begin to experience it as they get older.
It is recommended to walk your dog on a harness rather than a leash, not only to protect his or her trachea but to reduce the occurrence of honking by removing this source of irritation.
Luxating Patella ("bad knee")
If you ever seen your dog skipping with one of its back legs during a walk it's possible your dog has a luxating patella. It's very common in Chihuahuas and it's severity should be diagnosed by your veterinarian. A luxating patella is when the knee cap slides out (to the left or right) out of its small groove, instead of up & down normally. When the patella is dislocated, the knee cannot extend properly and stays bent. When your dog skips they are usually trying to get it to slip back into place.
A luxating patella can be very painful for your dog if it's severe and not treated. Your vet will manually manipulate the knee to understand its severity and assign it a grade.
· Grade one - the knee can be manually pushed out of the groove but returns to position when pressure is released. This usually isn't painful for your dog and should be re-assessed later in life to make sure it's not getting worse. Your vet may prescribe pain medication or join supplements.
· Grade two - The knee can be manually pushed out of its groove but will not go back into place until it is manually pushed back in. In some cases this can require surgery.
· Grade three - The patella continually slips out of place, though it can be pushed back into place with veterinary assistance. With flexion and extension of the leg, it will keep falling back out of place. This is considered more severe and a vet will probably recommend surgery.
· Grade four - The patella is permanently luxated and cannot be repositioned without surgery. Recovery is usually about 30 days.
The object of patella surgery is to deepen the trochlear groove to better contain the knee cap and to release ligaments in the direction of luxation, tighten ligaments opposite the direction of luxation and repair any torn ligaments.
Chihuahuas have notoriously bad teeth which can lead to more severe health problems so it's wise to address any oral problems quickly and with the help of a vet as needed.
1. Retained puppy teeth - many chis retain at least one of their puppy teeth even after their adult teeth have come in - commonly the canines. Retained teeth should be pulled by a vet before they begin to impact the alignment and gums of the adult teeth. Extractions of this nature can often be done while your dog is under anaesthetic for their spay/neuter.
2. Dirty teeth - It can seem, especially in older Chihuahuas, that no matter how often or fast you clean your dog’s teeth they just get gross and plaque-y again. Starting an at-home dental cleaning routine EARLY is key to preventing problems (and battles) later in life. Using a finger brush and dog toothpaste, an in-water additive or even dog oral spray will all add to the health and longevity of your dog. Bad oral hygiene leads to gum disease, liver disease and heart disease... and really bad breath.
Molera ("hole in the head")
Technically this is considered a breed characteristic and not a defect but it can freak many new Chihuahua owners out, and does pose an injury risk, particularly in puppies. When a puppy's skull (and human baby's skull) forms the different parts of bone eventually meld together to create a solid mass of bone. In many toy breeds, including Chihuahuas the bones don't entirely meet up and leave a small gap at the top of the head. A molera does not necessarily lead to hydrocephalus (brain swelling/water on the brain) and should not be a concern for most Chihuahua owners.