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What You Need Before Bringing Home a Chihuahua

3 cute chihuahuas
Be sure to read to the end to get the PDF list of what you need for your new chi. You you can print it and take to the store with you.

The beginning of this article will be the supplies you need and then I will tell you what else you need to know so you can make a plan and be prepared.

 

Deciding to bring a Chihuahua home is very exciting! But before you bring your new furry friend home, there are a few things that you will need to be prepared.

Puppies and adults have different needs, so I will begin by listing supplies that you would need based upon the age dog you are bringing home.

Chihuahua Puppy Supplies

Before you bring your puppy home, purchase the following supplies:

Quality Food

Purchase a quality commercial food, or work with a trusted veterinarian or canine nutritionist to obtain some healthy home made recipes.

Since Chihuahuas have tiny mouths in general, but even more so as puppies, some owners find it challenging to find a kibble tiny enough for them to eat. Two high quality options are Wellness Small Breed Puppy Food or Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Puppy & Small Breed Dry Dog Food; both foods feature Chihuahua size kibbles.

If you want to make home made meals for your Chihuahua, know that you cannot simply set aside a portion from your plate. Dogs have different nutritional needs than humans do, and some of the food we can eat is toxic for them.

Be sure to work with a veterinarian and or canine nutritionist to obtain healthy recipes before trying to cook for your Chihuahua on your own.

You can also order human grade fresh meals (that can be frozen) from subscriptions services such as PetPlate, The Farmer’s Dog, NomNom Now and Ollie’s. My dogs have tried all of these except for NomNom Now (though I have heard good things about them). I can recommend all the ones we have tried but the favorite from all of them was Ollie’s.

Regardless of what you decide to feed your puppy, start them off with what they were eating at the rescue, breeder or wherever you got your puppy from. Then gradually over a few weeks switch over to the new food. This way, it will be easier on their digestive system and there will be much less chance of diarrhea.

Dishes

Your puppy will need food and water dishes. I recommend purchasing 4-6 dish washer safe bowls so that you always have clean dishes ready to go.

I recommend a ceramic bowl, such as the PetRageous Metro Oval 1 Cup Dish or a stainless steel bowl such as the Bella Bowl (this is what we use).

Some Chihuahuas are not very good about drinking water; if you notice that your puppy does not drink from her bowl often, consider purchasing a fountain. Some puppies and dogs are more likely to drink from running water than standing water. After all, who doesn’t prefer fresh water? I recommend the PetSafe Creekside Ceramic Fountain.

Here are additional tips:

  • Avoid plastic dishes or fountains, as they can become scratched, and bacteria lives in the scratches.
  • If you are struggling to find small enough bowls in the dog section of a pet store, consider this: due to their small stature, some Chihuahua owners even use cat bowls to feed their puppies!
  • Purchase a place mat such as the Bone Dry Lattice Mat to keep the floor clean around your puppy’s dishes.

Quality Harness, Leash and Collar

These items are absolute necessities. Your puppy’s safety is greatly jeopardized if allowed to roam freely outside; always take your puppy outside on a leash.

Only take your puppy off leash in a securely fenced area, and even then, be present and supervise your puppy for safety. Chihuahuas are small enough that birds of prey could (and have done so) attempt to carry them off if left alone outside.

Collar

Consider purchasing a break away cat collar with a bell such as the Frisco Rose Collar. The bell helps alert people to your puppy’s presence, reducing the chance of an accident happening. Some puppies are so small even a cat collar is too big.  If that’s the case, ferret collars are available for purchase.

Collars should only be worn as an accessory and to hold an ID tag; they should never be used to walk a Chihuahua (detailed further in harness paragraph).

Harness

The DOGO Easy Go Harness is the safest and most comfortable harness I have found to date. This harness is virtually escape proof, easy to put on and take off, easy to wash, and available in cute patterns for every taste.

Only walk your Chihuahua using a harness; never leash a Chihuahua’s collar. Due to their tiny necks, it would be very easy for them to sustain an injury, such as a collapsed trachea.

Leash

Be sure to select a light weight leash, such as the Blueberry Pet Nylon Leash. I do not recommend retractable leashes, as they have the potential to cause injury to your dog and yourself, and they do not offer as much control over your dog.

Safe Space

Your puppy will need a safe place to be confined when you are unable to supervise her. The most common choices are a crate, either wire such as the Frisco Wire Collapsible Crate or plastic such as this Frisco Plastic Crate, or a play pen such as the IRIS plastic play pen (this is the one we use).

Whatever safe space you choose, be sure to fill it with cozy blankets such as the Bessie and Barnie Luxurious Blanket and a cozy bed, such as the Best Friends Donut Cuddler (I now have 5 of these in my house, it’s my dogs’ favorite bed).

Grooming Supplies

All puppies have grooming requirements:

  • You should bathe your Chihuahua when she becomes dirty or smelly, or about once per month. Use quality shampoo such as Burt’s Bee’s Tearless Puppy Shampoo.
  • Chihuahuas need their nails trimmed which can easily be done at home with nail clippers such as the Lil Pals Nail Trimmer. Alternatively, if you are nervous about cutting the quick, make a “pawdicure” appointment with a groomer to trim nails.
  • Smooth coated Chihuahuas (or short hair) may be brushed occasionally, but they do not require regular brushings. For smooth coated Chihuahuas I recommend the Safari Bamboo Bristle Brush.
  • Long coat Chihuahuas should be brushed a few days a week, or more, depending on if you feel their hair getting matted as you pet your puppy. For long coated Chihuahuas I recommend the Safari Bamboo Wire Brush.

Potty Products

If you plan to potty pad train your Chihuahua puppy, you will want to purchase quality potty pads and a potty pad holder (optional but nice to have)to protect your floors. An attractant scent is also helpful for encouraging your puppy to use the puppy pads.

If you will be training your Chihuahua to potty outside, this pheromone scented stick is helpful for training.

No matter how you will be training your Chihuahua to potty, you should always keep high quality cleaning products on hand to clean up after accidents. Natures Miracle Advanced is the most effective cleaning solution I have found to date.

Toys

Puppies need lots of toys! Since puppies teethe, they need lots of appropriate chewing options to ensure that they do not chew on things they should not. Be sure to purchase a variety of toys, such as:

Chew bones like nylabone durachews or nylabone flexichews.

Rope toys like this Mammoth Cotton Rope Toy or the Kong goodie bone rope toy.

Plush toys are great for puppies too, but sometimes it is hard to find plushies small enough to fit in tiny Chihuahua puppy mouths.

Kong makes mini stuffed toys that are perfect for tiny mouths: a plush teddy, a plush frog and a plush duck. Bonus, the squeakers are replaceable if they wear out!

Another good place to find tiny plush toys is searching for hide and seek plush toys, which are large toys that small ones fit into for dogs to pull out of the larger toy, like this zippy paws squeaky hide and seek toy.

Kong toys are great for safely entertaining puppies when they are left alone. They can be stuffed with peanut butter, yogurt, or kong stuffing and kong ziggies or kong snacks.

To make the filling last as long as possible, freeze the kong after you fill it. A frozen kong would feel nice to chew on when your puppy is teething.

Balls are great for getting your puppy to run around and get their energy out. Kong makes mini tennis balls and mini sports balls, which are sized appropriately for Chihuahua puppies.

Adult Chihuahua Supplies

Adult dogs and puppies may use some of the same supplies, but with slight variations. If you bring home an adult Chihuahua, here is a list of supplies that you will need:

Quality Food

Adult Chihuahuas should be fed a high quality commercial kibble or a homemade diet approved by a veterinarian. The dog food market is very saturated, so it might be hard to know which one to choose.

Based upon the most common needs of adult Chihuahuas, below are my top recommendations for commercially produced dog food.

And remember to feed them what they have already been eating when you first get them and change their food gradually over the next few weeks.

Adult Food. If your Chihuahua does not have any unique needs, a quality adult food will do. Consider American Journey Small Breed or Wellness Small Breed Adult.

Healthy Weight. For Chihuahuas who struggle to maintain a healthy weight, try Annamaet Lean.

Food allergies. For Chihuahuas with food allergies, try a limited ingredient food such as Blue Buffalo Basics.

Sensitive Skin. For Chihuahuas with sensitive skin, try Avoderm Sensitive Support.

Senior Food. For Chihuahuas over the age of 7, I recommend Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Chicken and Sweet Potato Senior Food.

Should you choose a home made diet, do not attempt to prepare your Chihuahua’s meals without first consulting with a trusted veterinarian and or canine nutritionist.

Dishes

Please refer to the puppy section; the same bowls and accessories may be used for adult dogs.

Quality Collar, Harness and Leash

Please refer to the puppy section; the same collar, harness and leash may be used for adult dogs.

Safe Space

Please refer to the puppy section; the same types of safe spaces may be used for adult dogs.

Grooming Supplies

Please refer to the puppy section; the same grooming supplies may be used for adult dogs.

The only difference is that you do not have to use puppy shampoo on an adult dog; you could use whatever quality shampoo you wish.

My personal preference to bath my adult Chihuahua is Buddy Wash Lavender and Mint Shampoo.

However, if your Chihuahua has sensitive skin or does not cooperate well for baths, puppy shampoo is recommended as it is gentle on skin and it is tearless.

Be sure to avoid low quality shampoos, as they may irritate your Chihuahua’s skin.

Potty Products

Please refer to the puppy section; the same potty products may be used for adult dogs.

Mobility Supplies

Depending on the health and age of the Chihuahua you adopt, you may need a few items to help with mobility, such as:

  • A ramp or steps can help a Chihuahua with joint issues be able to access furniture as they wish. These are actually a good idea for a chihuahua of any age. They will help prevent injuries.
  • A stroller can help your Chihuahua enjoy longer outings than they have the energy or ability to walk as they age. This Pet Gear Stroller is excellent quality.

Supplements

As Chihuahuas age they may benefit from supplements being added to their diets. The most common supplement needs are:

If you are unsure if your Chihuahua needs a supplement, consult with a trusted veterinarian.

Toys

Many adult dogs enjoy the same toys that puppies do, except that they may not need teething toys like puppies do.

Some dogs love to chew on things their whole lives while others grow out of that faze after a few years.

Please refer to the puppy section for good toys for adult Chihuahuas.

Some adult dogs may not have the same playfulness as puppies, so if your adult Chihuahua is more content to snuggle with you than play, know that it is normal for the breed.

Regardless if you are bringing home a puppy or adult dog, you will need to establish a schedule.

Establishing a Schedule

Puppies and dogs thrive on schedules. They like knowing what to expect and can even “tell time” once they know their schedule. You may find your canine companion eagerly waiting in the kitchen around meal time, or fussing by the door when it is time to walk.

There are 3 basics to consider when setting your schedule:

Potty

The first week you bring your furry friend home, I would recommend offering a potty break once an hour. Once you know that you can trust your puppy or dog to not have an accident in the house, this part of the schedule becomes more simple.

You will learn when your puppy or dog has to go potty as you get to know them. Always offer a potty break when your furry friend first wakes up and right before bed time, and about an hour after a particularly long drink of water. 

For puppies, take them out after they eat too.

Be sure to offer potty breaks every five hours minimally. If you work outside your home and cannot go home during your break to let your puppy or dog out, consider hiring a dog walker. Be sure to carefully interview your potential dog walker.

Safe Space

We live in an imperfect world, so you will likely not be able to have your Chihuahua with you all the time. This means that you need to establish a safe space where your Chihuahua can be when you must leave her home alone.

Most owners either purchase a dog crate, a dog play pen, or make a room in the house dog safe to be their Chihuahua’s safe space.

Whatever option you choose, you should make it a positive place to be and not only put your Chihuahua there when it is time to leave. To accomplish this, tell your Chihuahua to go there to receive a treat and allow your dog free access to the area so she can choose to go in whenever she wants.

Sleep

Decide where your Chihuahua will sleep before it’s bed time. Some owners have their Chihuahua sleep in their safe space and others have their Chihuahua sleep in their bed.

If you want your Chihuahua to sleep in their safe space, be sure to stay firm on this decision, because you will likely hear a protest! Chihuahuas love their people and always want to be with them. You could tuck your Chihuahua into his play pen in a very comfy bed and blanket, and he could still become upset when you leave the room.

This protest will end abruptly if your Chihuahua is brought to bed to snuggle – but it will also set a precedent! If you bring your Chihuahua to bed he will come to expect that is where he will sleep and he will accept nothing less.

Most Chihuahuas are low energy and love to cuddle; this is not a breed you have to worry about tiring out before bed time! Due to their snuggly nature, bed time is generally one of their favorite times of day. You can start asking your Chihuahua, “Do you want to snuggle in bed?” at bed time, and she will learn what that means and eagerly run to be picked up or run to the bed.

Choosing a veterinarian is crucial; your Chihuahua will require preventative care and regular check ups, as well as emergency treatment potentially.

Choosing a Veterinarian

To choose your Chihuahua’s primary care veterinarian, begin by asking friends or neighbors who own dogs that appear well cared for if they would recommend their veterinarian. If you do not have anyone you trust to ask, try an internet search and read reviews.

If you have it available in your area, ask on Next Door too. That’s how I found my latest vet.

Once you take your Chihuahua for his first appointment, you will get an understanding if the veterinarian is reputable and trustworthy. Here are some characteristics of a good veterinarian:

  • The office is clean; there is not urine on the floor or walls in the waiting room; exam rooms are clean and do not have blood or other bodily fluids or dirty supplies remaining when you are seated in the room.
  • The veterinarian genuinely listens to you and answers any questions you have.
  • The veterinarian and their support staff treat your pet ethically with dignity and respect.
  • The veterinarian will perform tasks in your presence if requested.
  • The veterinarian understands that your pet is valued member of your family and treats her as such.

Keep in mind that many veterinary offices have limited hours, so it is important to learn where the closest emergency veterinary office is in the event of an after hours emergency.

Chihuahuas have long life spans, which makes training crucial to having a well behaved dog to share your life with.

Choosing a trainer

To find a trainer, try the following search methods:

  • Ask your veterinarian for a trainer recommendation.
  • Ask for recommendations from responsible dog owners you know.
  • Local pet stores usually have dog training classes, or may have recommendations for trainers.
  • Do an internet search and read reviews. And ask on Next Door for this too.

For training to be truly effective, owners should be actively involved in training their Chihuahuas. Some owners may consider sending their Chihuahua to a trainer to do the training for them, and while it may work, they miss out on a special bonding opportunity with their Chihuahua.

Closing Considerations

These special little dogs have won the hearts of many for a reason; bringing home a Chihuahua will change your life for the better. While supplies are needed and will help you care for your Chihuahua, what they most need is lots of unconditional love, snuggles, proper daily care and regular veterinary care.

Click to download and print the PDF list that you can take shopping with you.

For your convenience, you can find all the posts geared for each stage of life your chihuahua is in here:

Chihuahua Puppies

Adult Chihuahuas

Senior Chihuahuas

Good luck with your new best friend and feel free to email me at cathy@ilovemychi.com if you have any questions.