Chihuahua Health Issues To Look Out For

Chihuahuas are a popular breed, but that doesn't mean they don't come without challenges. Learn the most common health issues Chihuahuas face.

Vanessa Armstrong

Updated July 05, 2024 • Published October 26, 2022

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Chihuahua Health Issues To Look Out For

Chihuahuas are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. While they're cute, cuddly, and easily transportable, like many purebreds, they are more likely to have certain health issues.

Every Chihuahua pet parent should be aware of the ailments that their little furry friend could potentially face. Read on for the list of common Chihuahua health issues and what you can do to treat or prevent them. 

Chihuahua health issues to look out for

Joint issues (especially the kneecaps)

Perhaps the most common health issue Chihuahuas face is their kneecaps slipping out of place. If your pup has this genetic condition, which is also known as a luxating patella, they may skip or hop when running and then stick their leg out straight to pop their kneecap back in. Most cases of luxating patella are minor, but severe cases may require surgery. 

Chihuahuas are also prone to inflammation of the joints, which can cause them to walk with a stiff or stilted gait. Your vet can prescribe medication for your pet and work with you on a treatment plan if they have this condition. 

Tracheal collapse

A dog’s trachea or windpipe is made up of rings of cartilage. In Chihuahuas, these rings are often weak and can collapse, which will cause your pup to have difficulty breathing or cough a lot. Most cases of tracheal collapse can be treated with medical management and weight loss plans, if the dog is obese. Severe cases, however, may require surgery. 

Low blood sugar

Chihuahuas, especially young ones, are susceptible to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Symptoms include being sleepy or lethargic, neck spasms, and seizures. You can lessen the chance that your Chihuahua gets hypoglycemia by feeding them small meals throughout the day and keeping sugar supplements on hand. Any treatment, however, should be done in consultation with your vet. 

Heart problems 

Chihuahuas often get heart disease in their later years and most commonly develop mitral valve disease. Your vet can check to see if your pet has a heart murmur and prescribe medication accordingly. 

Eye problems

Chihuahuas have large eyes for their body size, so they're more prone to eye injuries and infections. Like humans, Chihuahuas can get cataracts or glaucoma, both of which can lead to blindness.

Chihuahuas are also subject to iris atrophy as they age, where the muscle in the iris starts to thin, causing your dog’s pupil to look misshapen. Dogs with iris atrophy are usually more sensitive to light or may squint more often. If your dog appears to have any eye issues, you should make an appointment with your vet immediately. 

Tooth and gum disease

Chihuahuas are prone to keeping their baby teeth, a condition your vet may call retained deciduous teeth. If your pup has this condition, their adult teeth come will likely come in crooked, which will cause food to become trapped more easily and make your Chihuahua more susceptible to periodontal disease.  


Chihuahuas are at risk of fluid build up in the skull. This condition is called hydrocephalus and puts pressure on your dog’s brain, which can lead to brain damage. Hydrocephalus is usually identified by a vet when a pup is young, and one sign of the condition is a dome-shaped head.

Some Chihuahuas may also get regenerative anemia, a condition where your pup is producing red blood cells, but not enough to meet the needs for their body. Chihuahuas often have that condition because they have what’s called a pyruvate kinase deficiency, an inherited red blood cell disorder that leads to your dog’s blood cells having a shortened life.  

Respiratory issues

Some Chihuahuas may have a congenital condition called ciliary dyskinesia. This ailment means the cilia in their lungs don’t work properly, which causes your dog to have respiratory issues like coughing and nasal congestion. 


Like many dogs, Chihuahuas often become obese because of their diet. Obesity can also make the likelihood of your dog getting other ailments like heart disease and arthritis much higher. 

How to treat and prevent Chihuahua health issues

Many of the conditions listed above are congenital ailments, meaning that your Chihuahua has had them since birth. Congenital conditions are not preventable—for most of these ailments, the important thing to do is work with a veterinarian to identify them quickly and take the necessary steps to treat it. 

Some conditions, like obesity and hypoglycemia, can be prevented by making sure your Chihuahua gets a well-balanced meal within their daily caloric intake, fed to them in small amounts throughout the day. 

No matter what conditions your Chihuahua may have, your dog’s personal vet as well as the experts at Pawp are here to support you and your pup 24/7. 

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