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Caring For Your Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are a good breed for city-dwellers, or those who just don't have the time to walk their dogs that often. They are highly intelligent, so will need stimulation. They love their own breed, so why not keep at least two if you intend to leave them for any length of time. They are very affectionate and loyal little dogs, and love to please their owner.

 

GROOMING

Opinions differ on how often to bathe a Chihuahua. Some say that bathing too often removes the natural oils from the coat, and thus dandruff will result and the coat will look dull. It has been my experience that Longcoat Chihuahuas should be bathed at least once a month, during the warmer weather. When bathing, take care not to get water into their ears, as an infection can develop. I do not bathe my Chihuahuas in the winter months, I use instead a spray dry shampoo. I do however wash the genital areas with a flannel and dog shampoo when neccesary. I use a Eucalyptus shampoo as this keeps fleas away. They should be brushed and combed regularily too.

You will need to trim their nails at least once a month. On the smaller Chis, cat claw trimmers can be used. It's good to start a nail-trimming routine early-on so that your dog becomes accustomed to your handling its paws. Consult your veterinarian on the periodic cleaning of your Chihuahua's ears and teeth, booster shots, and vaccinations.

Nutrition

Just like us all dogs need a healthy and balanced diet for a long healthy life. Dogs are omnivores, which means that they eat both plant and animal matter.  I always thought that feeding my dog meat would be fine, but I have learned that they also need fruits, vegetables and starch. Their nutritional requirements vary according to their age, size, weight and level of activity. Smaller breed dogs burn more calories than larger ones because their energy level is higher. Smaller breeds have a growth period of about 8 months versus large  breeds, whose growth period can last up to 24 months! After weaning puppies should be fed four meals a day until three months old, from 3 months to 6 months they should be fed three meals a day, and from six months to a year they should be fed twice a day. After 1 year once a day is fine, if you may be give just a snack in the  mornings. I have found that regular adult dog food is just fine for this breed. I always use a moist food, and would never consider using a dry food, as I do know of many a Chihuahua that dry food has caused health problems. Their tiny stomachs are better suited to the moist  foods, either tinned or fresh. Vets suggest NOT feeding a dog only once a day. It is better to divide the amount of food into 2 or 3 meals. This allows for overall better digestion and better maintenance of the dog's blood sugar. Chihuahuas are more prone to hypoglycemia, low blood sugar. Also it decreases the chances of your Chihuahua developing a serious and sometimes deadly condition called "bloat". I feed mine in the mornings and again early evening, with no treats in between. Neutered/spayed pets have a slower metabolism. Simply give them less food. The more exercise your dog gets, the more calories he will burn up. In colder months dog's activity level tends to decrease. You may want to decrease the amount of calories too. The following treats, in small quantitites, are useful as rewards when training or as general special snacks: cheese, raw carrots, dog chocs. However, do be careful not to over-indulge with snacks, as overweight is a health-hazard for dogs in general.

Always provide a clean, cool bowl of water for your dog!  Avoid plastic bowls, as they can harbour bacteria. Water helps with digestion and regulating body temperature.

 

Obesity In Your Dog

Stand above your dog and look for his waist. Lay your hands gently on his rib cage you should be able to feel the ribs. Look for any rolls of fat especially in the abdomen area. If you notice any then you need to determine the reasons why your Chihuahua is overweight. Take into account his age, activity level and amount of food consumed. Devise a food program with a desired weight to aim for. Cut calories and decrease the amount of snacks he gets daily. Divide the amount of food for the day into 2 or even 3 meals.  Don't allow free-feeding, which means leaving a bowl of food out all the time to snack on. Make it a team effort, make others aware that your pet is dieting. Consult your vet for more suggestions. Foods to avoid include milk fat, butter, fatty red meat, anything chocolate, sugar, salt, caffein. They are all harmful. 

Protect Your Chihuahua From Hidden  Poisons 

When you get a puppy it is important to make yourself aware of any flower and shrub disasters waiting to happen. Chihuahuas, as smart as they are, may not bother a plant one day only to eat an entire bush another. It is a hazard that must be monitored. Another poison danger can be found in a variety of foods that we humans eat everyday. It is important to remember that Chihuahuas may react more violently to medications and foods than larger dogs living in the house. If you are a chocolate fan ignore your Chihuahuas pleading. Your treat could be your Chihuahuas death. Chocolate contains theobromine, poisonous to dogs. A healthy Chihuahua that eats a bite of chocolate may suffer epileptic seizures or cardiac irregularity that could cause a heart attack. Another horrible side effect could be bleeding in the digestive tract which causes a slow painful death over a day or two. Nuts are not generally good for dogs but walnuts are especially lethal. Other nuts might cause bladder stones because of the high phosphorous content. Onions are triggers for anemia in dogs. Raw onions are very dangerous to your little guy. Turkey skin can cause acute pancreatis in Chihuahuas. The most common small animal poison exposure is human medicines. Regular aspirin can poison Chihuahuas, cause ulcers, damage kidneys, as well as cause major tissue damage to them. You may have child-proofed your house for your own children or grandchildren. Never leave cleaners, hair coloring, bleach, antifreeze or any other items sitting around for your Chihuahua to investigate. It is best to Chihuahua proof your home and secure your dog when you clean. If your Chihuahua does accidentally ingest a poison, make certain you are prepared with your vet's or emergency hospital phone number handy. Preparing for the worst can help you get your Chihuahua the help needed as quickly as possible. And when it comes to poisoning, fast action is you next best defence.

 

 

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