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Caring For Your Elderly Chihuahua

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elderly Chihuahua

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
  • Fatigue
  • 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. GlucosamineChondroitin 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.

Ensure Comfort

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.

Easy Access

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

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.

peachs and gypsy
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Catherine Mommsen Scott

Wednesday 19th of August 2020

This article was extremely helpful for me. The links to suggested aids are well-chosen. I would like to see an article with suggestions for senior chi’s who have no teeth. What toys would be suitable? It seems to be a common issue in senior tiny dogs.

Cathy

Wednesday 19th of August 2020

That's a great idea Catherine. I'll put that on my list of articles to write.

Heidi

Thursday 6th of August 2020

I have a 15 year old chi who was hit by a car at 6months old so she has replacement hips and other joint issues. In the past year she has slowed down a lot and in the past month has had frequent accidents in the house. I believe she must be deaf because she doesn’t bark that much any more. This week she has had an energy spurt like I haven’t seen in years. Running around the house , playing. Just now she took off on us and made it quarter of a mile running on a busy street (we haven’t needed a leash for awhile because she cannot get around that easily). What has gotten into her?

Cathy

Thursday 6th of August 2020

Wow, I don't know Heidi!

David

Sunday 9th of September 2018

Hello my 15 year old Belle just passed away today and I am very confused! Her vision and hearing were starting to deteriorate. But she was a very spunky Chi. She would always hound me down for food like a little greedy puppy. Lol. Occasionally she would poop in the wrong area. Other than that she seemed pretty active to me. Every time I was in the kitchen she would always wait for me to give her a little treat. Seemed like she was training me. Lol. She passed unexpectedly. Today I went into the kitchen to feed here and she would not leave her bed. I had to pick her up and take her to her bowl of food. She looked at her food and slowly walked back to her bed. I picker back up and brought her to the food again. I noticed she had shortness of breath. She looked at her food then looked at me and walked back to her bed. I was very worried at that point. About 1.5 hours later I noticed she totally missed her pee pee pad. I had a bad feeling. I knew it was time to go to the vet. Loaded her up in the car and 30 mins into the drive she pooped on her bed that I put in the car and she had stopped breathing and was already getting stiff. When I got to the vet the dr did not give me an answer of what it could be. Just threw out if could of been a heart or blood issue. Wanted to charge me 2000.00 to get a definite answer. Any idea why she passed suddenly without prolonged symptoms? Sorry for the long comment. She was perfectly fine the night before hunting me down like she always does for food. Lol. Thank you

Jamie

Sunday 20th of September 2020

@David, I am so sorry for your lose ....it’s never easy! I lost my “Lucy “ in May I still tear up when I think about her. 5 weeks after losing her I needed to get another one. Tinkerbella came from a rescue. She is approx 6 yrs old and 5lbs of pure love. She really helped with my grieving. Shame on your vet trying to take advantage of you. Obviously about the $. Please find another vet. May you little Belle RIP and fly high🌈❤️

sherry hansen

Sunday 9th of September 2018

Hello David, My heart goes out to you in the loss of your beloved Belle. My wee chihuahua, Perry, passed Jan 2018, age 16 years and I truly believe that Belle's issues was heart failure and sudden. I am still not over Perrys death and doubt I ever will get over it. He was my **All*, since he was 3 months of age. He was my family, my wee protege. I feel deeply for your loss, as it is very real. To get me to this period in time, I have lit candles EVERY day, to light the way and also therapeutic for me as well. Have his photos about and talk to them daily. Where do the years go ??????? Time is precious. Chihuahuas are prone to heart murmurs, fluid on lung, hacking cough, cataracts, and I have to remember the Happy Times of the 16 yrs. I feel absolutely empty, what else is there to say..... Go in Peace, know that others care and feel for you... Sherry PS I am also on : Petlossgriefmessageforum

Cathy

Sunday 9th of September 2018

I'm so sorry for the loss of your precious Belle. I'm not a vet and no one could know for sure without an autopsy but it sounds like a heart problem. My Kilo passed from congestive heart failure but she was fine until an hour or two before she died. She passed much in the same way your Belle passed with loss of appetite and shortness of breath.

Veronica

Saturday 18th of August 2018

Hi everyone! I have a soon-to-be 18 year old chihuahua named Emmy, I've had her since I was 12 years old. I was just cuddling with her on the sofa and decided to google further information about dogs her age and here I am! Because of her age, she now sees the vet every 6 months, simply to monitor her health. During her last visit, she was given the all clear--everything was normal for a dog her age. She has very poor vision due to cataracts, sways a bit when she walks, and tends to get lost in the dark but that seems to be the norm. To help her with these issues, my husband and I have not moved any furniture in the past 2 years or so, keep her from walking long distances and follow her outside in the early morning and evenings when she needs to go to the bathroom. She stills jumps a bit when she wants to sit on the sofa and eats regularly and has little bursts of her old self when she wants to play, but those days are soon fading. Our vet told us to keep her diet as is, Pedigree, that if it has worked for her this long then there was no point in changing it--and she's 18!!! So, for those of you who are worried about the costs of supporting a delicate dog like the Chihuahua, there are potential savings there, especially for those of you who have younger ones. Best of luck to all of you and here's to many more years of cuddling with your loved ones.

Cathy

Saturday 18th of August 2018

It sounds like you are doing everything right for your little old lady Veronica. Thanks for sharing!

Vanessa

Thursday 26th of July 2018

Looking for some advice. My Chi is 18 years old. She has an enlarged heart, heart murmur, hard time walking and kidney disease. Medication helps manage those conditions. Recently though she has had diarrhea. She has an appetite. The vet gave me something to treat the diarrhea and her blood results were normal for her. She showed low potassium and salt so i give her a little pedialyte during the day. She drinks water well. Not sure what to do about her diarrhea. Its been weeks. She will go a few days without a bowel movement and then have a normal one and then diarrhea. She normally eats blue buffalo duck and potato. She loves it and never has gotten sick before. During this time the vet suggested chicken soup and rice. It helps but the diarrhea keeps returning. Any suggestions to manage this issue? Thank you.

Reid

Sunday 9th of August 2020

@Cathy my Chi 18 yes old is fed baby food in the am sweet potatoe with chicken or turkey...easy to digest and I feed it to her with my finger

Cathy

Thursday 26th of July 2018

Sorry Vanessa, I don't know how to help her. Maybe add a little yogurt with pro-biotics to her diet to help with tummy troubles. There are also supplements on the market for dogs that have them too.

I know Lucas had a severe case of diarrhea and vomiting twice now. It was pretty scary because he had blood coming out of both ends. One time her was in the hospital for several days.

Among some of the prescription meds the vets gave me, they also told me to get some Pepcid tablets and give him 1/4 of a tablet every 12 hours. I've used it on him several times when I can tell he may getting diarrhea again since then and it has nipped it in the bud.