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Do Chihuahuas Have Health Problems (What Vets Wish You Knew)?

Chihuahuas, with their charming demeanor, unfortunately, carry a basket of health issues, some of which manifest in quirky behaviors often dismissed as 'just being a Chihuahua'. The sight of a shaking Chihuahua or one that spins incessantly may be indicative of underlying health problems, leaving owners puzzled and concerned. Unravel the mysteries behind these behaviors, explore common health problems, and arm yourself with preventive measures to ensure your Chihuahua leads a long, healthy life.
Do Chihuahuas Have Health Problems

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Chihuahuas, those adorable little dogs with big personalities, are a joy to have around. Their petite size and endearing expressions make them irresistible to many dog lovers. However, like many purebred dogs, Chihuahuas come with their share of health concerns. The purpose of delving into these health issues is not to worry you but to equip you with the knowledge needed to keep your furry friend as healthy as possible. So let’s dive into the world of Chihuahua health, and explore what you can do to ensure your dog lives a long, happy life.

Common Health Issues in Chihuahuas

Dental Problems

Chihuahuas are notorious for dental issues. Their small mouths can have overcrowded or misaligned teeth which make proper cleaning tough. Food and tartar can easily get stuck, leading to gum disease, tooth decay, and sometimes tooth loss. Regular dental checkups with your vet, along with daily tooth brushing at home, can go a long way in preventing dental problems.

Heart Problems

Heart disease, particularly a condition called Mitral Valve Disease, is common in older Chihuahuas. This condition prevents the heart valve from closing properly, which can lead to a host of complications. Early detection through regular vet checkups and medication can manage the condition, ensuring your Chihuahua remains active and happy.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation, or a slipping kneecap, is another common issue in Chihuahuas. This condition can cause pain and lead to arthritis if left untreated. A vet can often manage patellar luxation with medication, and in severe cases, surgery might be recommended.

Eye Problems

Due to their protruding eyes, Chihuahuas are prone to eye issues like infections and injuries. Keeping the eyes clean and avoiding situations where your dog could injure its eyes is crucial.

Why Is My Chihuahua Shaking?

Chihuahuas have a bit of a reputation when it comes to shaking or shivering, and if you’re a Chihuahua owner, you’ve likely noticed this quirky behavior. It’s almost as if they have their own built-in vibration mode! The shaking can look concerning, but often it’s just one of their idiosyncrasies. However, it’s essential to understand when it’s normal and when it could be indicative of something more serious.

Temperature Regulation

One of the primary reasons Chihuahuas shake is because of their small size. They have a higher metabolism than larger dogs, but they can also lose heat quickly. When they’re cold, they shiver to generate heat much like you would if you were chilly. Keeping your Chihuahua warm with sweaters or blankets, especially in colder climates or during winter months, can help curb the shaking.

Excitement or Anxiety

Emotions can also trigger shaking in Chihuahuas. They might shake from excitement when you come home, when it’s mealtime, or when they meet new furry friends. On the flip side, anxiety, fear, or nervousness can also cause shaking. In these cases, it’s essential to observe what triggers the shaking and provide comfort and training to help alleviate any anxiety.

Excess Energy

Chihuahuas are energetic little creatures. Sometimes, they may shake simply because they have excess energy to burn off. Regular exercise and playtime can help manage their energy levels and reduce shaking.

Medical Concerns

While many instances of shaking are harmless, sometimes it could be a sign of a medical issue. Pain, discomfort, or illnesses like Distemper or other neurological disorders could cause shaking. If your Chihuahua’s shaking is accompanied by other concerning symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, or behavior changes, a trip to the vet is in order.


Chihuahuas, especially puppies, are prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which can cause shivering or shaking. If you suspect this could be the case, it’s crucial to contact your vet as hypoglycemia can be dangerous if left untreated.

Why Does a Chihuahua Lick So Much?

If you own a Chihuahua, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of their affectionate licks. While sometimes their persistent licking can be seen as an adorable display of affection, at other times, it might leave you wondering if everything is alright with your furry companion. Here’s a deeper look into why Chihuahuas might have a penchant for licking and when it might warrant a closer look.

Showing Affection

Licking is a natural behavior for dogs, stemming from their puppyhood. Puppies lick their mothers, and in return, mothers lick their puppies as a form of bonding and care. Your Chihuahua licking you is often their way of showing affection and building a bond with you, their human.

Seeking Attention

Chihuahuas are known for their attention-seeking behaviors. If they’ve learned that licking gets them the attention they crave, be it positive or negative, they’ll continue this behavior. It’s a way for them to interact with you and get a reaction, whether it’s laughter, petting, or even just a “stop that” from you.

Tasty Residue

Let’s face it, sometimes we have remnants of food or even the natural salt from our skin that might be intriguing to our Chihuahuas. They lick to taste these residues, and it can be quite rewarding for them.


Licking can also be a self-soothing behavior. It’s akin to humans biting their nails or twirling their hair when anxious. If your Chihuahua is feeling anxious or stressed, they might resort to licking as a way to comfort themselves.


Chihuahuas will lick themselves as a way of grooming. It’s their way of keeping clean. However, excessive licking of themselves, especially in one area, could be a sign of discomfort or an underlying skin condition.

Health Concerns

Excessive licking, especially if it’s a new behavior or focused on one area, could be indicative of a health issue. It might be a skin irritation, allergy, or even a more serious internal issue causing discomfort.

Why Does a Chihuahua Spin?

Spinning in circles is a behavior you might observe in your Chihuahua, and it can be both amusing and bewildering. Like many behaviors, a little bit of spinning isn’t usually a cause for concern, but understanding why it happens and recognizing when it might be problematic can help keep your Chihuahua happy and healthy.

Playfulness and Excitement

Chihuahuas are playful and energetic dogs. Sometimes, the sheer excitement or joy can send them spinning in circles. Whether they’re excited to see you, about to get fed, or engaging in play, spinning can be a way for them to express their enthusiasm.


Chihuahuas are known for their attention-seeking antics. If spinning gets them attention from you or others, even if it’s just a laugh or a look, they might continue this behavior. They learn quickly what behaviors get them the reaction they desire, and spinning might just become one of their go-to moves to grab your attention.

Chasing Their Tails

Some Chihuahuas spin in an attempt to catch their tails. This can be a playful behavior or simply a form of self-entertainment. It’s amusing to watch, but if it becomes obsessive, it might be time to intervene or consult a vet.

Ancestral Behavior

Spinning could also be tied to ancestral behaviors. In the wild, dogs would circle around to pat down the grass or leaves, creating a comfortable spot to lie down. While your Chihuahua has a comfy bed, the instinct to circle before settling down can still linger.

Neurological or Behavioral Issues

In some cases, spinning can be a sign of a neurological or behavioral issue. Conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can manifest in repetitive behaviors like spinning. If your Chihuahua spins excessively or appears distressed while spinning, it’s advisable to consult with a vet.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

A lack of exercise or mental stimulation can lead to boredom, and spinning might become a way for your Chihuahua to burn off energy or ease boredom. Ensure your Chihuahua gets plenty of exercise and has toys or puzzles to keep their mind stimulated.

How Long Does a Chihuahua Live?

Chihuahuas have a relatively long lifespan, often living to be around 14 to 17 years old. Their small size can contribute to their longevity, but a healthy lifestyle plays a significant role too. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and prompt medical care can keep your Chihuahua in top shape for years to come.

Ensuring your Chihuahua has a good quality of life involves regular vet checkups, a nutritious diet, and plenty of love and attention. Keeping them at a healthy weight is crucial as obesity can lead to other health problems.

Prevention and Regular Care

Taking a proactive approach to your Chihuahua’s health is the best way to prevent many common issues. Regular vet visits, vaccinations, and preventative medications are key. Dental care, including brushing your dog’s teeth, and regular grooming will keep your Chihuahua looking and feeling its best.


By being attentive to your Chihuahua’s health and working closely with your vet, you can tackle and prevent many of the common health issues associated with this breed. Your Chihuahua is a cherished member of your family, and with the right care, you can enjoy many happy years together.