Hypoglycemia is when the Chihuahua's blood sugar level drops to an extremely low level, causing "sugar shock." When glucose levels rapidly drop, the dog's body and brain are deprived of essential nutrients. Hypoglycemia results can be a weakness, seizures, coma, and in severe cases, even death. Because Chihuahuas are so small, they can be prone to hypoglycemia, especially as young puppies. Usual causes are stress, illness, lack of food, or use of stored energy without it being replenished. Therefore, it is important to ensure that young puppies eat regularly throughout the day. As a preventive measure or treatment, you can add a high-calorie supplement called NutriCal to your dog's diet or give your dog some syrup.
Occasional bouts of sneezing, snorting, honking, and wheezing are not unusual for Chihuahuas. This is sometimes referred to as "reverse sneeze" and is usually caused by an elongated soft palate that is thought to become temporarily misaligned. It is a common trait in toy breeds. Although it may sound scary, it usually only lasts a short time and can be ended by massaging the dog's neck and throat and encouraging the dog to swallow or lick. Another way is to pinch close to the dog's nostrils with your fingers, forcing it to breathe through its mouth and swallow.
Luxation of the patella, or dislocation of the kneecap, is a common hereditary problem with Chihuahuas. There are several different degrees ranging from minimal to debilitating. The dislocation is most commonly found on the inner side of the patella. The attached ligaments stretch until the patella is no longer where it is supposed to be and may "pop" in and out of place very easily.
The Molera, also known as fontanel or "soft spot," is common in Chihuahuas. In the past, this Molera was accepted as a mark of purity in the breed, and it is still mentioned in most Chihuahua breed standards worldwide. The Molera in a Chihuahua will occur on the top of the head and may vary in shape and size when present. The Molera should not be any larger than your thumbprint, and there should be no swelling, bulging, or throbbing. Unfortunately, many people and some veterinarians have tried to link the mere presence of a Molera with a condition known as hydrocephalus. This has caused many newcomers to the breed serious concerns and undo worry. The truth is that a domed head with a Molera present does not predispose to this condition.
Hydrocephalus is the accumulation of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and is not normal for any breed, nor is it curable. It is also known as "water on the brain." When fluid accumulates in the brain, it compresses the brain against the skull. A puppy can be born with this disorder or caused by a brain infection or head injury later in life. Chihuahuas born with hydrocephalus do not generally live more than a few months and do not grow normally, often staying extremely long. Signs of hydrocephalus include wide-set or protruding eyeballs (often with a lot of white showing at the corners), blindness, abnormal behavior, walking in circles, mental and physical slowness, seizures, abnormally slow growth, and lack of coordination. Unfortunately, there is no cure for hydrocephalus. Mild cases can be treated with steroids and diuretics to reduce pressure or with a surgically inserted shunt to divert fluid from the brain to the abdomen.
Coccidia is small protozoans (one-celled organisms) that live in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats. They cause disease most commonly in puppies and kittens less than six months of age, in adult animals whose immune system is suppressed, or in animals who are stressed in other ways (e.g., change in ownership).
A puppy is not born with the coccidia organisms in his intestine. However, the puppy is exposed to his mother's feces, and if the mother is shedding the infective cysts in her feces, then the puppy will likely ingest them, and coccidia will develop. Since young puppies, usually those less than six months of age, have no immunity to coccidia, the organisms reproduce in great numbers.
Exposure to the onset of the illness is about 13 days. Therefore, most puppies who are ill from coccidia are two weeks of age and older. Coccidia is contagious, so infected puppies should be isolated from those who are not.
The primary sign of an animal suffering from coccidiosis is diarrhea. Diarrhea may be mild to severe, depending on the level of infection. Blood and mucous may be present, especially in advanced cases. Severely affected animals may also vomit, lose their appetite, become dehydrated, and sometimes die from the disease.
The coccidia species of dogs and cats do not infect humans.
Coccidiosis is treatable! Drugs such as sulfadimethoxine (Albon) and trimethoprim-sulfadiazine (Tribrissen) have effectively treated and prevented coccidia. Because these drugs do not kill the organisms but inhibit their reproduction capabilities, the elimination of coccidia from the intestine is not rapid. This allows the puppy's immunity to develop and remove the organisms.
Please see your veterinarian for advice and treatment if your puppy shows signs of this disease
Giardia is a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestine of affected animals. This microscopic parasite clings to the intestine's surface or floats free in the intestine's mucous lining. Giardia occurs in two forms: a motile feeding stage in the intestine and a non-motile cyst stage that passes in the feces. The cyst is fairly resistant and can survive for several months outside of a host's body as long as sufficient moisture is provided. Giardia is transmitted from host to host by ingesting cysts in contaminated feed or drinking water. Cysts may also be found in streams or other water sources. The transmission also occurs by direct contact, especially with asymptomatic carriers. More recently, giardiasis has also been recognized as being able to be sexually transmitted.
Clinical signs of giardia range from none in asymptomatic carriers to mild recurring diarrhea consisting of soft, light-colored stools to acute explosive diarrhea in severe cases. Other signs include weight loss, inability to gain weight, vomiting, lack of appetite, and greasy stools.
The most commonly used medication for giardia infection is metronidazole (Flagyl). Alternatively, you may want to use Fenbendazole (Safe-Guard).
This disease may be contagious to people from infected dogs so good sanitary practices, like washing your hands after handling an infected puppy, are very important.