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What Do Chihuahuas Usually Die From?

Tan chihuahua laying on a couch pillow looking at the camera

Infection and trauma are two of the leading causes of mortality in Chihuahua puppies. Adult Chihuahuas can be affected by contagious diseases and unintentional injuries just as easily. Chihuahua owners must be careful of their small stature, especially while their pup is still growing. Keep reading to know about the common illnesses from which Chihuahuas usually die.

Some dogs were bred for hunting, some for speed, but what were chihuahuas bred for?

Common Chihuahua Illnesses

Chihuahuas are typically a healthy breed that may outlast the majority of canines. Despite their robustness, they are resistant to illness and some of them can survive to reach 20 years old. This feat is achieved by only a handful of dog breeds. However, they are still prone to certain health concerns and some of the most common ones are discussed below.


Overweight brown and white chihuahua standing next to wooden furniture on grass

It’s difficult to avoid spoiling our pets, but in the long run, too much food and too many snacks contribute to obesity. According to the American Kennel Club’s breed regulations, a pure-bred Chihuahua should not weigh more than six pounds. Obesity in Chihuahuas can lead to musculoskeletal issues, spinal tension, breathing difficulties, arthritis, and a shorter lifespan.

You should limit the quantity of your dog’s food and monitor calorie intake if they are obese. You can also take your vet’s help to bring your pup back on track.

Spinal Injuries

Xray of a dog's spine highlighting 2 vertebrae by coloring them red

In the blink of an eye, a spinal injury can occur. Chihuahuas have such tiny frames that one misstep may be disastrous. Chihuahuas suffer nearly completely from spinal injuries and disorders as a result of trauma. Intervertebral Disc Illness (IVDD) is one such disease that arises when a spinal disc moves or slides out of position (this disease is oftentimes genetic and not the result of trauma).

Fortunately, doggie wheelchairs and physical therapy can assist with any pain or movement concerns that emerge as a result of the accident. Keep an eye out for your pet, especially if there are a lot of people and larger dogs.

What Kind of Chihuahuas are There? Click here to learn more.

Kidney and Bladder Stones

Blue gloved hand holding kidney stone with lab equipment in the background

Kidney and bladder stones are frequent in elderly Chihuahuas, particularly males. These calcium stones accumulate in your dog’s urinary system over time, causing difficulties peeing, bloody urine, and acute pain.

Stones usually pass on their own. However, if you find that your Chihuahua is having difficulties urinating, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Kidney stones can cause obstructions, which can swiftly become medical crises.


Black and white chihuahua having eye drops placed in its eye

Scleritis is caused by a parasite. The sclera, or white component of a dog’s eyeball, is inflamed. When a Chihuahua develops scleritis, the sclera as a whole becomes inflamed. When left untreated, it hardens and can cause a Chihuahua to lose an eye.

Chihuahuas are more prone to eye problems than other little breeds. Most parasites, thankfully, can be avoided with access to clean drinking water and frequent check-ups. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if you see your Chihuahua continually licking or scratching their eye.

Oral Diseases

Close up portrait of a tan chihuahua with its bottom teeth poking out

All tiny breeds have inherently small mouths, which predisposes them to overcrowded, difficult-to-clean teeth. Gum disease develops in dogs as a result of plaque and tartar buildup. Food gets lodged in a Chihuahua’s mouth regularly.

Therefore brushing their teeth properly and frequently is essential. Dental chew toys and treats can also help your Chihuahua’s teeth stay clean in between brushings. You may also give them natural chews that will keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Patellar Luxation

Dog standing on its hind legs with its back to the camera with human legs wearing bluejeans behind the dog

The patella is made up of three components (calf, kneecap, and thigh bone). Dislocation is referred to as luxation. Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap slips in and out of position regularly. Its symptoms include an irregular stride, varying degrees of discomfort, leg lameness, and, at worst, immobility. Various treatment options (from physical rehabilitation to corrective surgery) can be used depending upon the severity of the condition.

Pulmonic Stenosis

It is a congenital cardiac ailment that occurs when blood does not flow properly through the dog’s heart. It is called pulmonic because it is the valve that does not develop properly, causing the heart to work twice as hard to pump blood throughout the body. The degree of pulmonic stenosis varies widely between cases, with some requiring only dietary modifications and others requiring cardiac surgery.

If left untreated, the ailment can be fatal, since the heart will eventually weaken and fail due to the stress.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Close up of a chihuahua's head against a white background

PRA immediately affects a dog’s eyes and occurs when the photoreceptors in the rear of the eye begin to fail. The symptoms begin with night blindness—the dog will have difficulty seeing in the dark. However, as time goes on, it begins to impact their daylight eyesight.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this ailment, and as it progresses, it will result in total blindness. However, veterinarians can detect it early and give the dog and the owner enough time to prepare for blindness.  Except for a loss of eyesight, Progressive Retinal Atrophy has no other physical repercussions on a Chihuahua’s body.

Chihuahua Life Expectancy

Senior black and grey chihuahua sleeping on a couch

There is no foolproof technique for estimating how long they can live, but studies show that when properly cared for by a loving owner, Chihuahuas live an average of 15 to 20 years. Small breeds such as the Chihuahua and Yorkshire Terrier outlive medium-to-large breeds such as the Labrador Retriever and Mastiff. The typical life expectancy of medium-to-large breeds is 10 to 13 years.

However, a Chihuahua’s lifetime (like any other breed) varies based on various factors, like diet, healthcare, and genetic makeup. Likewise, vaccinations and activity levels are important aspects of a dog’s health. Hence, owners should become acquainted with these variables and try to provide their Chihuahua with a long and healthy life.

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