Chihuahuas are the world’s smallest species of dogs, but they are stashed with a wonderful personality that makes them loveable to human owners or rather their ‘parents’.
Their fun-loving nature and longing to be close to their human parent lead them to form an affectionate relationship with an individual. Thus people take pains to give all the care they can to their Chihuahuas and ensure they live a long and healthy life.
Chihuahua Lifespan is Related to Breed Types
There are different breed types of Chihuahua dogs like the Teacup, Fawn, Long Haired, Short Haired, Apple Head, Deer Head and the average breed dog.
The Teacup breed is estimated to have the shortest lifespan of about 10 to 13 years as compared to the average breed that may live from 15 to 20 years. Compared to other dog species this is quite a long life span.
The health problems that the Chihuahua breeds develop affect the Chihuahua lifespan. For instance, the long-haired species may develop cataract or luxating patella. As pups, they can be affected by worms. Their fragile immunity makes them susceptible to eye infections like hypoglycemia and lung infections like bronchitis.
This dog species also has issues with the development of their skulls that fail to form fully resulting in a condition called molera or ‘soft spot’ at the top. This condition seems to be common in Chihuahuas. The dogs with heads shaped like an apple are the ones with a greater chance of the molera condition.
When the bones of the skull do not fuse together the dog can suffer from brain trauma due to inadvertent eternal pressure being put on the head at that spot when the dog is playing with its companions or children or jumping down from the couch rod the arms of the pet owner. These spots on the head need to be protected.
Ailments Affect Chihuahua Life Expectancy
Dental Problems - Chihuahuas are very likely to develop dental problems as they age because of the long lives that they live. Though dental problems may not be life-threatening they can cause havoc to a dog’s quality of life as it hampers the dog’s ability to eat properly. This in turn may cause serious health issues. This illustrates the need for good dental health for the dog. A visit to the vet is needed at first signs of eating problems.
Obesity - The Chihuahua putting on weight and becoming obese is another area of concern for the health of the dog. Obesity can lead to health problems where the heart, the liver or the kidneys get affected. These conditions can lead to a shortened life. It is advisable to watch the waistline of the pet and to make sure that the dog stays fit. Feeding the pet a controlled diet and giving it plenty of exercise will make sure it remains within the ideal weight range. Chihuahuas fuss over food but can eat too much as well. They can develop diabetes and thus have a shortened life.
Arthritis - As the Chihuahua ages, the dog may develop arthritis. The cartilage in the joints wears down and the dog experiences extreme pain. The dog’s quality of life is reduced and it may go into depression. Exercise is difficult with this condition and eventually other complications set in shortening the life span.
Hypoglycemia - Hypoglycemia is another condition which if left untreated can be fatal. However, if treated promptly this condition isn’t problematic and the Chihuahua can go on to live a long life.
Hydrocephalus- Some Chihuahuas are born with a condition known as hydrocephalus, which means spinal fluid has built up in the brain. The condition is recognized with the dog having a swollen head. Chihuahuas born with hydrocephalus don’t live beyond four months of age. If the dog has a mild case of hydrocephalus then it can be treated with steroids.
Heart Conditions - Chihuahuas are vulnerable to heart conditions that can shorten their lifespan. Heart murmurs can be treated with medication and may not necessarily be a problem. Other heart problems will require the dog to be less active and this will limit the amount it can exercise thus affecting the quality of its life and perhaps the number of years it can live.
Precaution Leads to Longevity
It is not possible for the owners of Chihuahuas to protect them from every kind of ailment, but many can be prevented or their severity limited thus ensuring the pets lead a fairly healthy and long life.
A good way to protect the Chihuahua from potential ailments is to get it vaccinated against all the ailments as advised by the veterinary doctor. Disease caused by the parvovirus is very contagious and can be fatal. Distemper is another fatal contagious virus that affects respiration, the intestines and the nervous system.
Fitting the Chihuahua with a tagged dog collar is also important as the pet may run off chasing another dog or small animal such as a squirrel while the pet owner may think the dog is playing in the yard. For similar reasons, it would be advisable to keep the dog on a leash. The Chihuahua can get excited easily by a passing car while being walked and there could be a chance of it being run over.
Chihuahuas don’t need to be walked as vigorously as the larger breed of dogs, but they still need to be taken out for a walk every day. Exercise for them is important so they can live to the full term of their lives. In the winter months, cladding them with a winter coat will prevent them from catching a cold and falling ill.
Bringing a Chihuahua into the family requires commitment over the long term. Regular visits to the vet, 30 minutes of running and playing, and nutritious food should see the dog living a good healthy life for 15 years or more.
Before a Chihuahua is brought into a home the pet owner must ask the question if one is ready to be committed to doing what is necessary for looking after the pet. Will the pet be suitable for the family? If yes then go ahead and adopt the Chihuahua which will give all in the family many years of joy and companionship.