Although Chihuahuas are tiny and can be somewhat physically fragile, the breed as a whole has relatively few genetic defects. For the most part, breeders work to eliminate hereditary problems and strengthen the breed, but Chihuahuas may be subject to various health challenges peculiar to Toy breeds. Here are a few Chihuahua health concerns to note.
Subluxation of the Patella
‘Loose kneecaps’ in common terms is a condition that occurs when the kneecap (on the rear leg) slips out of its groove. This may happen often or only rarely, depending on the severity of the problem. This is a relatively common issue with small dogs and in severe cases, it may require surgery. Most Chihuahuas don’t have to worry about this problem, but it is something to be aware of.
Hypoglycemia just means low blood sugar. Lots of Toy breed puppies experience this problem, characterized by glassy eyes, staggering gait and sometimes, limpness. Usually the puppy will grow out of the condition before they have left the breeder, but for a few Chihuahuas, the problem remains with them for life. Usually a careful schedule of small amounts of food several times per day is all the treatment necessary to manage this issue. Take action immediately if your Chihuahua suffers a hypoglycemic attack: place some sugar in it’s mouth and visit the vet clinic.
A characteristic of the breed, also known as the fontanel, is called the molera, a soft spot on top of their head. Human babies have a small fontanel, but in Chihuahuas (80-90% of them) the molera never disappears altogether. Be gentle with your pet and the molera will never be a problem. In some unusual cases a large molera can be an indicator of a problem known as hydrocephalus, but this is quite rare and not something for the majority of Chihuahua owners to be concerned about.
This is a serious health condition also known as water on the brain. A dog with hydrocephalus typically has an unusually large head caused by swelling. This is a fatal condition characterized by falling, seizures, and an unsteady gait. In most cases, a dog with hydrocephalus will not live long, but consult a veterinarian to discuss options. Fortunately, hydrocephalus is rare.
Despite their tiny stature, Chihuahuas are generally a healthy, robust breed. Chihuahua owners can expect their dogs to live long, happy lives.