The Chihuahua breed is typically skinny, lean, and tiny, which has made them the world’s top dog when it comes to purse-sized pooches. The small size of these dogs makes them easily portable in their owners’ purses and pockets, and they can often be found at the hip of many fashionable celebrities in Hollywood. However, as a Chihuahua owner, you might find yourself asking, how skinny and lean is considered too skinny?
The average Chihuahua weighs around 3-6 pounds, with a healthy weight for this breed being between 4 and 6 pounds. If your chihuahua is under 3 pounds, your dog is too skinny, dangerously underweight, and at risk for a multitude of health problems.
In this article we will show you the steps to determine if your Chihuahua is underweight and then discuss the different health problems brought about by being underweight, what to do if your Chihuahua is underweight, and how to prevent weight loss in your dog.
How to tell if your Chihuahua is too skinny
There are several steps you can take to determine whether your Chihuahua is too skinny or underweight. The easiest way is to get a weighing scale and find out if the weight is around 3 – 6 pounds. If your the scales show any number below 3 pounds then your Chihuahua is underweight.
If you don’t own a weighing scale, look at his ribs and chest. A healthy Chihuahua should have a well-defined waistline, but his rib cage should be visible once you look beyond his breast.
If his rib cage is not visible, you should be able to feel the contours of ribs underneath your dog’s smooth coat. If he feels flabby or if you can see his entire ribcage with no definition, then it is likely that your Chihuahua is underweight.
Underweight related health problems
A dog’s ideal weight is very important to his health and quality of life. When a Chihuahua is underweight, they are more susceptible to disease and may not live as long as an overweight or healthy-weight animal. Here are the different diseases that are associated with being underweight in Chihuahuas.
Heart disease – Although the exact reason is not known, heart disease is more likely to occur when a dog is severely underweight. As your dog’s weight decreases, they become weaker and their body works harder to keep them alive, which causes damage to the heart muscles.
Pneumonia – One of the most common diseases in underweight dogs is pneumonia, which is an inflammation of the lungs. When your dog’s immune system becomes weak they are more susceptible to infections like pneumonia. A weakened immune system can happen when a dog is severely underweight; their body does not have enough resources to fight infection effectively.
Diabetes – The risk for diabetes increases in underweight dogs. Diabetes is a condition when the body does not produce enough insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels and allows nutrients to be used by cells throughout the body
Skeletal Problems – Because Chihuahuas are typically very small in size, their bones can be easily injured or fractured . If your dog’s bones don’t have enough muscle and fat to protect them, they can easily fracture or break. This is very dangerous for dogs because this could lead to a broken jaw.
Not only are these diseases unpleasant for your dog, but they will also cause you more stress and monetary expenses during the duration of their treatment. Preventing weight loss in your Chihuahua can decrease their risk of developing these diseases, and therefore allow them to live a healthier, happier life.
What should I do if my Chihuahua is underweight?
If your Chihuahua has lost a considerable amount of weight over a short period of time you need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will be able to find the cause of your dog’s weight loss through various diagnostic tests.
Some common causes are parasites, diabetes, liver disease, cancer, kidney failure or anemia. These are treatable if you catch them in time so go see a vet right away if they suspect any of these problems in your Chihuahua.
Your vet will likely start them on antibiotics, supplements and a special diet to get their health back on track. In most cases, there is no need for drastic measures such as force feeding or placing your Chihuahua under sedation. This is because many of the things that cause weight loss can also be easily treated with proper diet and lifestyle changes. Which leads us to the next topic.
How to prevent future weight loss in your Chihuahua
Once your Chihuahua has started on medical treatment, you need to focus on preventing future weight loss.
The first thing is to schedule another vet appointment after they are done with their medications. Your vet will be able to tell you how much food your Chihuahua needs and also what kind of food it should be.
The veterinarian would likely prescribe you a different diet and increase the amount of food they eat. Make sure that your chihuahua eats according to the veterinarian’s prescription and schedule. In the meantime, monitor their eating habits to make sure they are eating when you know they should be.
Moreover, you need to adjust their exercise habits as well. Chihuahuas should not be allowed to exercise vigorously or for long periods of time. Make sure they are not overdoing it and that you schedule lots of down time for them as well. This will help your Chihuahua regain some weight, but also make sure that they do not lose any more weight in the future thanks to their more developed muscles.
Lastly, provide your chihuahua with the proper living conditions. Make sure that they are in a well-ventilated area, there is no excessive noise and make sure their living space is tidy. These factors can also cause your Chihuahua psychological stresses which leads them to eating less and therefore losing weight so try to do what you can to improve the environment for them.
If your Chihuahua is under 3 pounds, then your Chihuahua is too skinny or to put it more bluntly, dangerously underweight. When your Chihuahua is underweight, it is important to treat the problem by going to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
After medications, it makes all the difference to follow strict adherence to the vet’s new diet and exercise regimen in the long run. This will make sure your Chihuahua stays healthy and fit, as well as prevent future problems that might lead to weight loss in the first place.
Weight loss in Chihuahuas can be caused by many factors, some of which are treatable while some are life-threatening. That being said, it is important to always keep track of your Chihuahuas weight. If you notice any signs of weight loss, be sure to visit your vet as soon as possible.