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Health Care Information

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"Now stick out your tongue..."

Due to the many questions new persons have, we have added a health information page. Hopefully this will answer some of the more common questions.

Topics: Hypoglycemia, feeding, vaccinations, Coccidia, Dental care, Parasites

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

Your Chihuahua’s Special Feeding Needs


I’m aware that most feeding regimes recommend feeding your dog once or twice a day, and for the most part, that is satisfactory. However, with the small size of the Chihuahua, I have found that this diminutive breed cannot always eat sufficient in one or two feedings to meet their nutritional needs. Now about the Chihuahua’s special needs. Because their stomach is so small, a chi cannot eat 1/2 cup of food at a time. To feed them once or twice a day is to almost insure an undernourished animal. We keep hard food down 24/7 for our pups and young adults.


The first thing you as the caregiver must do is to familiarize yourself with dog foods. There is a calorie/protein statement on the side panel. Always choose one that has the ingredients and percentages of daily requirement on the side. Puppies need a minimum of 27% protein, adults, 24%. In addition, do not be swayed by name brands—watch for recommendations by nutritional groups. The recommended amount of food for a 3 –1/ 2 pound dog is cup per day, based on calorie count. Remember, some dogs are more active than others and may require more.


NOTE: see below: Another special need  Chi’s may have, because of their small size, is a sugar drop, or hypoglycemia.  This is where the blood sugar falls because the animal has not eaten enough to keep it up.


Symptoms may include: a staggering gait, glassy eyes, limpness or rigidity. Their eyes may roll up in their heads, and they may shake uncontrollably.  If the dog doesn’t receive IMMEDIATE  attention, he can suffer seizures, unconsciousness, and finally death.


However, you can determine whether the symptoms are caused by a  sugar drop by placing a little honey or white Karo syrup (not maple) on the end of your finger and rubbing it on the upper gums  above the teeth. If the symptoms are due to a sugar drop, the pup should snap out of it quickly. Follow the syrup/honey with a watered down mix of   Mighty Dog Gourmet Blend . Another  problem can be caused from teeth that are not strong enough to chew the hard dog food, or teething. Puppies get new teeth at about 6 months. An older dog may need to go to the vet for a dental check.


Once you know your dog has a tendency toward hypoglycemia, you can prevent future attacks by changing his feeding schedule to several small meals a day and avoiding sugary treats (check ingredients). Too much sugar in his food can put puppy on a roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows rather than keeping his blood sugar nice and level.


(NOTE: these are also symptoms of serious conditions. If the remedy given doesn't immediately rectify the problem, take the pet to the vet immediately!)

Transient Juvenile Hypoglycemia,

which is brought on by fasting, is common in Toy dog breeds,such as Chihuahua,Yorkshire Terrier, Toy Poodle, Pomeranian and other Toy dog breeds, and usually seen in puppies 5 to 16 weeks of age. Stress, low body temperature, poor nutrition, sudden change in feed, water and schedule patterns, infections, and premature birth may precipitate the onset of hypoglycemia. Some puppies, bred exclusively for tiny size ("teacup Yorkies", "teacup Chihuahua"), are even more predisposed to Transient Juvenile Hypoglycemia since insufficient muscle mass may make it difficult for the body to store the glucose and keep its blood sugar properly regulated.

Most common clinical signs of hypoglycemia are drowsiness, shivering, collapsing, disorientation, seizures, listlessness, depression, muscle weakness and tremors. Lee Weston, author of the article about Hypoglycemia (Pomeranian Club of Canada) says that "the entire sequence of clinical signs is not always seen, so close observation of your pet and knowing when your dog is going into a distressed state can mean the difference between life and death of your dog. Immediate treatment by a veterinarian is imperative, as recurrence of, or prolonged attacks, can cause permanent damage to the brain."

It has been proven experimentally that eight hours fasting in a Yorkshire terrier puppy can result in marked variation of blood glucose, showing both hypo- en hyperglycaemia.

Frequent feeding of a high-energy, protein-rich diet to both mother and puppies may prevent toy-breed puppies from developing hypoglycemia and may help them to overcome periods with a decreased intake of energy.

Puppies and dogs can develop severe hypoglycemia after consuming sugar-free gum sweetened with the sugar-alcohol xylitol. In humans, xylitol has little to no effect on plasma insulin or glucose levels, but in dogs xylitol is a strong promoter of insulin release and can cause severe hypoglycemia with collapse and seizures. With the increased appearance of xylitol-sweetened products in the US, xylitol toxicosis in dogs may become more common. Sometimes, a dog will outgrow this condition

Special Information About Your New Family Member:


Average Rectal Temperatures for Normal Puppies & Dogs: 100.5 – 102.5 – elevated above 102.5 should be considered fever, a drop below 100 should be regarded as serious and call for immediate treatment.


Vaccinations: All of your family needs to be vaccinated against serious childhood and adult diseases and your pet is no different. You must take your pet to a veterinarian to obtain these necessary vaccinations.


Parasites: Parasites are living creatures that feed on your pet. Internal parasites include worms. External parasites include ticks, fleas, and mites. Follow your  veterinarian’s recommendations for dealing with these pests. Over the counter products in retail stores will  not do as good a job dealing with parasites as medicine from your vet.


Poisons: Your pet is susceptible to poisoning by many household products and plants. Keep them out of your pet’s  reach.


Medications, bath products, and hygiene: You wouldn’t take medicine prescribed for a dog, nor should you give your medications to your pet. Many human products, including Tylenol, can be fatal to your pet. Use only pet products for your pet, unless directed by a vet.


Food and Treats: While your pet may like the taste of what you eat and may even beg for it, your food is not good for him, especially in small breeds where the intake of food is small; therefore every bite should be nourishing to insure his health. Hard dog food for small breeds is better for your Yorkie. Soft foods can cause diarrhea and dental problems. Soft food makes a nice treat.


Dental Care: Your dog can develop serious health problems from tartar and plaque build up. It can even effect his heart and shorten his life. You can help maintain good dental health by dipping  the end of a cloth or toe of a sock in baking soda and cleaning his teeth with it. Make this a game, and he will not  protest. Start early, some healthy games are easier taught to puppies!

Luxating Patellas, part 1

by Steven Buie


 Luxating means to dislocate. You have Medial Patella Luxation where the patella is displaced inside of the knee and Lateral Patella Luxation where the patella is displaced to the outside of knee. When a person conditions the...ir contract and says that it has to evaluated on a case by case basis is because of injuries that can occur. To start with you have Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture which occurs suddenly with tramatic injury (where the Chi had no symptoms of Patella Luxation and all of sudden does). Another injury type is a Patella Fracture which usually occurs because of a direct blow to the knee cap. Another injury is Patella Tendon Rupture which can be caused by over extension such as climbing stairs or rapidly going down stairs or steps. Last and not least is Collateral Ligament Injury which can be caused by injury. Each of these can be pin-pointed by a quality Vet. So when you have someone condition a contract with an injury clause on Patellas generally they have an in-depth knowledge of Anatomy and understand that not all Luxation is genetic induced or a congenital defect. Each one of the injury items have to be evaluated before one can label as Genetic Luxating Patella. I would suggest you share what I have wrote with your Vet and if he or she disagrees with anything I have wrote I would like to know. Granted it has been several years since I was in Med School but I feel confident in what I am saying. Hope this helps you have a better understanding of Injury vs Patella Luxation.

Vaccinations against disease is important for the life and health of your pet. Puppies require a set of three vaccinations given 3-4 weeks apart after weaning. At 6 months, Rabies vaccination is required by law.

Some vaccines are contraindicated for chihuahaus, including lepto. For safety, administer only 5 in 1 vaccines to Chihuahuas.

There is  great debate regarding the quantity of vaccine administered to small dogs: ie, whether a dose for a large breed and for a small breed should be the same. At this time, most vets administer the entire dose for a 12 ounce puppy or a 12 lb puppy. In addition, annual boosters are in question. Discuss this with your vet, and be sure to read the scientific research on the topic before making your decision on the care of your pet.

When your pet receives a vaccination to protect him from a potentially serious or fatal disease, he may have a reaction. Reactions can include mild lethargy, muscular soreness, decreased appetite, mild fever, mild vomiting or diarrhea. These mild reactions normally last no more than 24 hours. If our pet exhibits any of these symptoms or if they last longer than 24 hours, call your vet to discuss them.

Rarely, pets may experience more serious conditions soon after vaccination including: swelling of face or ears, hives or significant itching, difficulty breathing, significant lethargy, significant vomiting or diarrhea, or fluid build up or infection at the injection site. IF YOUR PET EXHIBITS ANY OF THESE SIGNS, GET HIM BACK TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY. He may need medications to treat the reaction. Contact local emergency vet service if after hours, as such reactions can be deadly.

Occasionally pets develop a hard lump under the injection site. This usually resolves in 2-6 weeks.

Understanding a puppy's health needs


Many puppies are acquired by their new owners at 6 - 8 weeks, which is the usual weaning age. Up until this time, the pups should have been dewormed every two weeks, starting at two weeks of age. At six weeks of age the pups start their well-puppy examination/vaccinations series. This series is an ideal time to establish a relationship with your pet’s veterinarian. Owner, puppy, and veterinarian should get to know each other. (We recommend that puppies remain with the breeder until they have had all puppy shots.)

The well-puppy series is a schedule of examinations and vaccinations that is performed at approximately six, nine, twelve, and sixteen weeks of age. Even though most puppies remain healthy throughout their well-puppy series, it is recommended that a physical examination be very subtle initially. Also a fecal examination should be performed each time to check for worms and other intestinal parasites.

The basic well puppy procedure is as follows: A physical examination and fecal check are performed at each visit. A standard distemper, parvo, hepatitis, etc. combination vaccine is administered at each scheduled date. Rabies vaccination is given at twelve or sixteen weeks of age. Additional vaccines such as Lyme, bordetella (kennel cough), etc. are given based on the possible exposure of these diseases to your dog. Check with your veterinarian on these additional vaccinations. More frequent or earlier age vaccination is not recommended. Heartworm prevention is started at eight to nine weeks of age and maintained throughout the dog’s life. Deworming is performed regularly until heartworm prevention is started, as most approved heartworm preventatives today also treat for some of the most common intestinal worms.

Diet and dental health are important in your dog’s overall health. Puppies should be fed a premium brand puppy food in measured amounts until they are one to two years old. They are then switched to a premium adult dog food. Measured amounts of food help prevent obesity and other health problems. Good quality dog food helps maintain healthy teeth, but regular teeth brushing and preventative dental cleanings are most important for good dental health. Most pups can be easily trained to accept daily teeth brushing. Use toothpaste developed for your pet and not human toothpaste which may cause stomach upset if swallowed.

Once a puppy has completed its puppy health series, regular checkups and vaccinations are recommended to help maintain your dog’s health. Physical examination, fecal exam, heartworm test, and dental exam are recommended yearly. Dental cleaning by your veterinarian is performed as needed. Booster vaccination traditionally have been given yearly based on initial vaccine manufacturer recommendations. However, vaccination protocols are evolving as new research is being done on length of vaccination protection. Last, but not least, spay or neuter your dog unless it is a valuable working or breeding animal. Regular preventative medicine, good diet, regular exercise and routine veterinarian examinations will help your dog live a long and healthy life.

Teeth, or how to Avoid Doggie Dentists



Dogs are susceptible to gum disease. Perhaps as many as 80% of adult dogs three years old and older develop gum disease. This is unnecessary. If you brush your pet’s teeth three or four times a week, you can keep plaque under control. Tartar causes heart disease, a leading cause of death for toy breeds.


The easiest way to prepare a dog for brushing his teeth is to do so as a puppy. It is much more difficult to train an older dog to allow you to clean his teeth. You can purchase dog toothpaste and toothbrushes at a pet store. Do not use human toothpaste as it tastes bad to the dog, will upset his stomach, and he will fight it. Begin by getting your puppy used to you lifting up his lips and gently touching his teeth and gums with your finger. Don’t make a big deal out of it, and he will be more likely to accept it quickly. When he stops pulling away, you may purchase a toothbrush made for human babies. At first, just touch the teeth with it, then gradually add pressure and brush up and down. Before long, you will be able to clean all his teeth with ease.


If you have a dog who is not used to having his teeth cleaned, you can make a game of it. Put a sock on your finger, dampen it, and dip it in baking soda. Play a chew fingers game with the dog (him chewing, not you) as you clean his teeth. If the teeth are very dirty, or if there is a very bad smell, you may have to schedule a cleaning at the vet.


If your pet was an adult when you got him, he may already have gum disease. Symptoms are a bad breath, swollen, bright red or bleeding gums, tartar along the gum line, loose teeth, or infected teeth. Some dogs who appear to be finicky eaters may be having problems with their teeth or gums. They may chew only enough to survive. If your pet has any symptoms of gum disease, see the vet right away.


Baby teeth


Dogs have two sets of teeth, puppy teeth and adult teeth. The puppy teeth should all be gone by the time your pet is 6 months old and be replaced by permanent teeth. This doesn’t always happen. When baby teeth refuse to fall out, the permanent teeth cannot slip into their slots, so they grow in whatever direction they can. The result is a mouthful of crowded crooked teeth.


Watch your pet’s teeth. You can tell if a new tooth is trying to emerge before the baby tooth has fallen out. If the baby tooth is loose, you may extract it with your fingers. If not, the vet can remove it so the permanent  teeth can come in.

What are coccidia?

Coccidia are small protozoans (one-celled organisms) that multiply in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats, most commonly in kittens and puppies less than six months of age, in adult animals whose immune system is suppressed or in animals who are stressed in other ways (e.g., change in ownership, other disease present).

In cats and dogs, most coccidia are of the genus called Isospora. Isospora canis and I. ohioensis are the species most often encountered in dogs. Regardless of which species is present we generally refer to the disease as coccidiosis. As a puppy ages it tends to develop a natural immunity to the effects of coccidia. As an adult it may carry coccidia in its intestines, shed the cyst in the feces, but experience no ill effects.

How are coccidia transmitted?

A puppy is not born with the coccidia organisms in its intestine. However, once born, the puppy is frequently exposed to its mother's feces and if the mother is shedding the infective cysts in her feces then the young animals will likely ingest them and coccidia will develop within their intestines. Since young puppies, usually those less than six months of age, have no immunity to coccidia, the organisms reproduce in great numbers and parasitize the young animal's intestines. Oftentimes this has severe effects.

From exposure to the coccidia in feces to the onset of the illness is about 13 days. Most puppies who are ill from coccidia are, therefore, two weeks of age and older. Although most infections are the result of spread from the mother, this is not always the case. Any infected kitten or puppy is contagious to other puppies. In breeding facilities, shelters, animal hospitals, etc., it is wise to isolate those infected from those that are not.

What are the symptoms of coccidiosis?

The primary sign of an animal suffering with coccidiosis is diarrhea. The diarrhea may be mild to severe depending on the level of infection. Blood and mucous may be present, especially in advanced cases. Severely affected animals may also vomit, lose their appetite, become dehydrated, and in some instances, die from the disease. Most infected puppies encountered by the authors are in the four to twelve week age group. The possibility of coccidiosis should always be considered when a loose stool or diarrhea is encountered in this age group. A microscopic fecal exam by a veterinarian will detect the cysts confirming a diagnosis.Also the breath will smell like finger nail polish remover—this is a definite sign and should be heeded immediately.

What are the risks?

Although many cases are mild it is not uncommon to see severe, bloody diarrhea result in dehydration and even death. This is most common in animals who are ill or infected with other parasites, bacteria or viruses. Coccidiosis is very contagious, especially among young puppies. Entire kennels may become contaminated, with puppies of many age groups simultaneously affected.

What is the treatment of coccidiosis?

It should be mentioned that stress plays a role in the development of coccidiosis. It is not uncommon for a seemingly healthy puppy to arrive at its new home and develop diarrhea several days later leading to a diagnosis of coccidia. If the puppy has been at the new home for less than thirteen days, then it had coccidia before it arrived. Remember the incubation period (from exposure to illness) is about thirteen days. If the puppy has been with its new owner several weeks, then the exposure to coccidia most likely occurred after the animal arrived at the new home. The authors merely point this out as they have been involved in legal cases as to who was responsible for the cost of treatment, the breeder or new owner. Usually coccidia was present only to surface during the stressful period of the puppy adjusting to a new home.

Fortunately coccidiosis is treatable. Drugs such as (Albon) and (Tribrissen) have been effective in the treatment and prevention of coccidian. Elimination of coccidia from the intestine is not rapid. By stopping the ability of the protozoa to reproduce, time is allowed for the puppy's own immunity to develop and remove the organisms. Drug treatments of five or more days are usually required.

How is coccidiosis prevented or controlled?

Because coccidia is spread by the feces of carrier animals, it is very important to practice strict sanitation. All fecal material should be removed. Housing needs to be such that food and water cannot become contaminated with feces. Clean water should be provided at all times. Most disinfectants do not work well against coccidia; incineration of the feces, and steam cleaning, immersion in boiling water or a 10% ammonia solution are the best methods to kill coccidia. Coccidia can withstand freezing.

Cockroaches and flies can mechanically carry coccidia from one place to another. Mice and other animals can ingest the coccidia and when killed and eaten by a dog, for instance, can infect the dog. Therefore, insect and rodent control are very important in preventing coccidiosis.

The coccidia species of dogs and cats do not infect humans.



In the gap between non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Rimadyl and Deramaxx, which some dogs cannot tolerate and some owners aren't willing to give, and can rarely be safely used in cats, and heavy-duty narcotics like Fentanyl and morphine, is a human pain drug getting recent increased attention in veterinary practice. This is the drug tramadol (Ultram).

I first heard of tramadol when it was prescribed for post-surgical pain for a dog of mine at the specialty practice where he had his surgery. Being the kind of dog owner I am, I investigated it thoroughly before giving it to him, and when I did, I wondered how I'd managed to miss it before - and to wish I'd known about it when I had a senior dog who became intolerant of NSAID drugs, and ended up being put to sleep when I could no longer control her pain or maintain her quality of life.

There are many ways to inhibit pain. NSAIDs do so by interfering with the production of an enzyme known as "cyclo-oxygenase," or "COX," which is involved in inflammation (as well as many beneficial and essential organ functions). The class of drugs known as opioids does so by stimulating opiate receptors in the brain. Some opiate receptors are responsible for beneficial effects such as pain relief, while others can produce hallucination, sedation, and heart and respiratory problems. Tramadol works by stimulating the "mu" receptor, which provides pain relief without sedation and without addiction.

Some Side Effects and Contraindications

Like all drugs, tramadol has side effects, although they are usually mild. There is a wide range of possible dosing with this drug, and sedation sometimes can occur at higher doses; if this happens, it is recommended that the dosage be reduced.

Constipation can occur rarely in some dogs, and will resolve when the drug is discontinued.

Although tramadol does not harm the gastrointestinal lining as NSAID drugs can, it can cause nausea. This is rare.

Contraindications include dogs who are being treated with L-Deprenyl for Cushings or cognitive disorders, or dogs taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or certain antidepressant medications.

Note: The human drug Ultracet is a combination of Ultram (tramadol) and Tylenol (acetaminophen). This drug must not be given to animals.


Unlike NSAIDs, tramadol can be taken with steroids. It can also be taken with NSAIDs to provide additional pain relief and allow a lower dose of both drugs to be used.

Tramadol is a prescription human medication and will require a prescription from a veterinarian. It is not a controlled substance and no special paperwork is required to prescribe, stock, or dispense this medication in veterinary practice.

Tramadol is not passed to nursing puppies through the dam's milk so can be used for pain control in lactating bitches.

Dosing Information

There is a wide range of dosing possible with this medication. Within the recommended safe dosing levels as given in the veterinary literature, it's possible to experiment with different intervals and amounts to achieve the desired level of pain relief and minimize unwanted effects or sedation. Some animals do very well on the minimum dosage given in two equal doses, 12 hours apart, while others might need the same dose, but given in six doses 4 hours apart, or four doses 6 hours apart, or three doses 8 hours apart. And still other animals might need a higher overall dose, given at any of those intervals.

The lower doses are typically used for chronic pain relief, such as with arthritis pain, while the higher are for severe post-surgical pain. But this is extremely variable and each animal's and owner's needs should be taken into account on an individualized basis before a dosage schedule is finalized. For example, sometimes giving a slightly higher overall dosage at greater intervals will allow the animal to experience relief of pain without the owner having to adminster the medication repeatedly throughout the day (which is not always possible).

Because tramadol is not in widespread use yet in veterinary practice, it's possible that a veterinarian you consult or work for is not familiar with it. For more information, including recommended dosages, veterinary professionals should consult Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook (the latest edition, the fifth, includes Tramadol; earlier editions do not), or the website of the Veterinary Anesthesia Support Group (scroll through the alphabetical listing to "Tramadol").

This information is not intended to be used as veterinary advice, nor to replace consultation with a qualified veterinarian.

It is always best to contact your veternarian with health questions. We are not vets, nor do we offer veternary advice. These are just observations and things that have worked for us.

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