Chihuahuas are blessed to be live the longest out of all the dog breeds. But because of that, you will have a lot of years with an elderly dog. And you want to keep your Chi healthy and happy for as long as possible.
Because of their long life, Chihuahuas aren’t considered a senior until they are about 10 years old.
Many of the issues that afflict dogs as they age are often the same as what aging humans experience.
Hopefully your Chi will never experience these things but you should be aware of them and know how to help your pup if they do.
Health Issues that Elderly Chihuahuas May Develop:
- Arthritis, and other joint issues such as Luxating Patella
- Dental disease
- Weight gain
- Weight loss (may be caused by dental or liver disease)
- Diabetes (look for sweet, fruity breath, frequent urination and drinking more water than normal)
- Liver disease (look for foul-smelling breath, vomiting, weight loss)
- Senility which is called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction which is similar to Alzheimer’s in humans
- Incontinence (may be caused by physical or mental issues)
- Sight problems
- Hearing problems
- Heart condition which is usually an enlarged heart in Chihuahuas
What You Can Do To Help Your Senior Chi:
As a dog owner, you want to make sure that your senior Chihuahua has everything they need to age well and stay comfortable. Below, you will find a few tips on how you can help your senior Chi at home.
Maintain Regular Visits with Your Veterinarian
Now more than ever, it’s important to take your dog to the vet for regular checkups and whenever there is a health issue. Visiting the veterinarian at least twice per year is ideal. The vet will take the time to check their heart, eyes, head, knees, and spine. Early intervention is essential when it comes to senior Chihuahuas and their health.
Feed Your Chi a Quality Dog Food
There are specially formulated dog foods that are made for seniors. A healthy diet is essential and can help keep them healthier for much longer. The right diet also helps maintain healthy teeth and gums, ensures proper digestion, and can even boost their immune system.
Specially formulated senior dog food also contains lower levels of fat and higher levels of protein. This helps your Chihuahua dog maintain lean muscle mass and improves their overall health. It is especially important if your senior dog isn’t as active as they used to be.
Choose the Right Supplements
Omega 3 supplements are great for your dog’s hair and coat. Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate supplements work well for joint issues. The right supplements help reduce inflammation, improves their range of motion, helps their joints, and can also reduce any discomfort they may be experiencing as they age. This leads to more comfort and better health.
Chihuahuas are also known to be plagued with eye problems as they age. So, eye supplements may also be beneficial. They can help encourage healthier tear secretions while promoting ocular health overall.
Proper Dental Hygiene
You should also make sure to brush your dog’s teeth at least several times a week and give them dental treats. You can schedule a visit with your veterinarian to have their teeth cleaned. They can scrape away the tartar and remove any infected or broken teeth. The vet can help catch the early signs of periodontal disease.
Regular Exercise and Activity
Exercise is also important as your Chihuahua ages. Gentle exercise and play for your older dog keeps them limber and healthy. Before starting any exercise plan, make sure to visit the vet first so that their weight and current health condition can be checked. The vet will also check their range of motion.
Exercise for older dogs is just as important as it is for younger and more active pups. However, you need to make sure that the physical activity is appropriate for your dog’s age. Adjustments will need to be made for senior dogs, and you have to keep a close eye on them.
Toys and Playtime
Puzzle food toys, balls, and other dog toys keep them entertained. As your Chihuahua ages, they may become less energetic; however, you still need to encourage them to stay as active as possible. Giving them the right toys can help keep them occupied and healthy and fit both physically and mentally.
Orthopedic beds help to ease their joints while sleeping. These beds can also help improve mobility for your adult Chihuahua and give them as much comfort and support as possible as they age.
Ramps or steps to couches and beds help your dog access them without jumping. These are good for all Chis, so they don’t hurt themselves going up or down on the furniture. Many ramps are also portable and can fold up easily. When choosing a ramp or steps, make sure they have an anti-skid surface, so your dog has a good grip. You don’t want them slipping and falling over the edge.
Warmth and Safety
Keep them warm with doggy sweaters, warm bedding, etc. If you have hard, slick floors, place floor mats to help your Chi maneuver them without sliding. These are helpful when you have tile, hardwood, or laminate flooring throughout the home. Yoga mats are also a good option for those more highly trafficked areas in the home to keep your senior pup safe.
Potty pads are another item you may want to have on hand for your elderly and aging Chihuahua. It is a disposable potty solution for older dogs who might not be able to make it outside as easily as before. It gives them a safe spot to go potty while also protecting your flooring.
Other Tips to Help Your Elderly Chihuahua
Keep them stress-free as much as possible. Keep small children or other pets who tend to annoy your old pup away from them.
If your dog has sight issues, do not move furniture around to confuse them.
Last but not least, know when it’s time to let go. Don’t let your faithful friend suffer because you are having a hard time letting them go.
When they are in pain, and medication no longer helps or when their quality of life has diminished significantly, it’s time to do the right thing and put your beloved baby out of their misery. Discuss it with your vet and get their guidance on when it’s time to let go.
The senior years can last for 10 or more years in your Chihuahua’s life, and with a little extra care, there’s no reason they can’t continue to be a happy, healthy companion.