In this article I will explain how to take care of a chihuahua so your dog leads a long, heathy and happy life. Caring for a chihuahua is an easier task than many other dog breeds but there are still important things to know if you want your Chi to be fit and healthy. These tips apply to all Chihuahua types – long haired, short haired, applehead, deer head and teacup.
Caring for your Chihuahua starts from the moment you bring your Chi home, and one of the first things you should do is schedule a visit to the vet to get her vaccinated. Vaccinations are very important to your dogs day to day health so don’t get mislead by some of the unfounded claims out there that vaccinations are harmful. If in doubt consult with your vet.
Once your Chi has had his initial set of shots, it’s best to get booster vaccinations ever year to maintain your dog’s immunity to diseases.
A good diet is the most important aspect of Chihuahua care. The food you choose to feed your Chi will determine how healthy your Chihuahua will be and how long they will live. Chihuahuas have small stomaches and it best to feed your Chi 2-3 small meals a day rather than one large meal. You should feed your Chi a protein rich diet with only small quantities of carbohydrates and as few “fillers” as possible. Too much carbohydrate particularly when you dog is still a puppy may trigger an allergic reaction causing you Chi’s skin to turn red and swollen. This can be very painful for your dog but with the right diet this can be easily avoided.
If you are serious about looking after your Chihuahua and giving them the best chance at a long, happy and healthy life then you should seriously consider feeding your Chi homemade meals. This is quicker and simpler than most people think and puts you in complete control of what your Chihuahua is eating. If you want to discover how to cook healthy home cooked food quickly and easily which your Chihuahua will love, 245 Homemade Dog Food Recipes is the best place to start. Their recipes are tailor made to give your Chi just the right balance of food stuffs and even includes a section on healthy treats!
I would also recommend Delicious Dog Food which teaches you how to get your dog started on a raw food diet. Raw food rarely causes vomiting as it’s natural properties are just what your Chihuahua is after. Delicious Dog Food does an excellent job of explaining why raw food is good for your dog and how to make the switch to a raw food diet.
Like feeding, training your Chi is a key part of Chihuahua care. Chihuahuas are smart dogs and are most receptive to training between the ages of 7 weeks and 12 months. Starting your Chi’s training early on in his life will make the process much easier for you although if you have adopted an adult Chihuahua, it is still perfectly possible to train them but it will take a little more time and effort. As soon as you get your Chi, you should establish yourself as the alpha pack leader and train your dog with a gentle but firm hand. Consistency is most important here as is socialization with children and other dogs.
Chihuahuas love to play and explore and caring for a Chihuahua involves exercising them daily. Your Chi will typically have short bursts of energy and because of this, you should keep your walks brief. Some smaller Chihuahuas may not need walking at all if they have a medium size room to play around in.
Chihuahua have small, fragile necks and it is better to use a body harness rather than a collar when walking your dog. Chihuahuas also hate the cold and are very sensitive to drops in temperature. If it is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) you should dress your Chi in a sweater and if it is any lower than 35 F (2 C) or there is a cold wind, it is better to play with your Chi inside instead.
People often ask me how to care for a Chihuahua so they aren’t at risk from illness. Vaccinations, a good diet and regular exercise should help you Chihuahua to avoid most common common health complaints. Chihuahuas are particularly at risk from heart disease, hypoglycemia, patella luxation and trachea problems and you should watch closely for any signs that your Chi might be developing the symptoms of these illnesses.
For more detailed information about Chihuahua health issues, the symptoms to look out for and how to prevent problems from happening, consult my article on Chihuahua Health Problems.
One of the most enjoyable parts of caring for Chihuahuas is grooming. This a time when you can really bond with your Chi and strengthen your relationship. Chihuahuas come in two types: shorted haired and long haired. Short haired Chihuahuas need only a little brushing every once a week or so. It is best to use a soft bristle brush, grooming glove or wipe her down with a soft cloth.
Long haired Chihuahua need to brushed more often, 2-3 times a week and in some cases where your Chihuahua has a particularly long coat, it is a good idea to brush her daily. For long haired Chis, use a soft bristle brush followed by a medium steel comb to keep their hair tangle free.
Use your grooming time to also check for fleas and ticks. If you find any, the best way to remove them is using a flea or tick remover which you can buy from most online pet stores such as petsmart.com
Opinions differ on how often to bathe Chihuahuas. While some experts say that bathing your Chi too often will remove the natural oils from their coat making it appear dull, others argue that regular shampooing can actually enliven the coat’s sheen.
It is up to you to decide for yourself about this, but I would recommend bathing your Chi at least once a month. Some long haired Chihuahuas need to be bathed more and it is important to brush their coat before and after bathing since otherwise, any tangles will be very difficult to remove.
Make sure you don’t get any water in their ears as this can result in ear infections and when drying your dog avoid using a hair dryer as most Chihuahua dislike the sound they make.
Nail clipping is one of the more challenging aspects of Chihuahua care as most Chis don’t like to have it done. However, if their nails become too long it will be uncomfortable for them so cutting their nails is a necessary evil. There are two types of nail clippers you can buy: guillotine style clippers or scissor style. Choose which ever you find easier to handle.
Chihuahua puppies have a vein running through their nails which will bleed if it is cut. The trick here is to trim the nail beyond the vein; this can be tricky and it may be best to watch a professional dog groomer do it first before you attempt it. If your Chihuahua’s nails are clear in color you should be able to see the vein easily. If they are darker you’ll have to shine a light on the nail. Your Chi will most likely squirm around, try to escape or may even try to bite you while you are doing all of this and it is a good to ask your dog groomer how best to hold your dog safely.