Caring for Chihuahuas...
If you a adopt a rescued Chihuahua, we give you written instructions on how to care for your new family member. We explain to you what we have been able to learn about the little dog and how best to handle his or her particular problems if any. If an adopting family change their minds for some reason, the dogs are always able to be returned to us.
We stress that this is the only way - they must not be turned loose or dumped at a poind etc. We make an open offer to baby-sit your adopted dog if you go on holiday or have to spend time in a hospital etc.
Some of these little dogs have been greatly traumatised by their experiences and mostly we can only guess at some of the horrors they have experienced. There is only one way to treat them - with lots of love!
We are often asked what we feed our little rescue dogs.
Each week we make up a stew which can be frozen in serving sizes.
As for our stew, we use chopped beef and minced beef from a pet food store. Following is the recipe, which we give freely to anyone requesting it.
Chihuahua Suggested Diet
This section was also featured as our Chihuahua Suggested Diet newsletter.
The Chihuahua is a dog - despite its size - and must be fed like a dog, not a human. Human food is too processed and will rot their teeth rapidly. Definitely do not feed them cured meats such as bacon, ham etc. Never give them human milk products or chocolates. Nor should you feed them potatoes, onions, or grapes.
Here is the recipe that we use for our rescue dogs - it is our own Chihuahua Rescue Stew.
Use these ingredients for cooking the mixture with.
- ½ kg minced beef.
- ½ kg chopped beef.
- 1 clove garlic chopped finely (or 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic).
- 2 cups pasta (any sort).
- Water to cover.
- 1 cup of rise.
- 1 egg (optional).
- 2 cups of a mixture of vegetables - chopped or grated.
- Use vegetables such as spinach, carrot, celery, broccoli, peas (not too many) or beans.
- NO potato and NO onion should be used.
Have these ingredients on hand for serving the cooked product with.
- Some raw minced beef.
- Some cooked chopped chicken.
- Put the beef, garlic, pasta and water to cover in a big pot. Heat until the mixture comes to boil.
- Add the rice and boil until thickened and the rice is almost cooked.
- For a change you can beat an egg and stir it in while boiling the mixture with the rice.
- Turn off the heat and stir the vegetables into the hot mixture.
- Allow the mixture to stand until cool before refrigerating or freezing.
Serve about ½ of a small cup of this mixture (depending on the dog's size), topped with a level tablespoon of raw beef and a level tablespoon of chopped, cooked, chicken meat, each morning or evening.
If the dog does not eat their food the first time, leave it down for 1/2 hour, then take away the bowl. Cover it with glad wrap and refrigerate it. You can then offer the same dinner again in the evening. They may test you for up to 24 hours before eating, but they will eat it and soon they will love it!
General Feeding Tips
If we have a dog eating their own poo, we mix one egg into a half cup of crushed pineapple and put it into the hot food (it will not harm any of the dogs) It makes their poo highly distasteful to them and they will stop eating it immediately.
If the Chihuahua is a tiny fragile type you may need to feed it several times daily or give it some sugared water or honey to avoid fainting spells. After they have decided to eat the stew then you should start their doggie regime: one or two small servings of the stew per day; ½ cup dried dog food each day; every second day a raw chicken neck; raw beef or lamb bones should be given weekly, and allow them to get smelly in the yard. Your dog will love it!
You can offer any sort of chopped fruit (except grapes) whenever you have some, but in very small quantities.
Chihuahuas have a very fine bone structure, especially in the bottom jaw, so there is very little support for holding teeth in place. Proper "doggy" food will aid in keeping your little dog's teeth, bones and heart far more healthy. This diet teaches them to CHEW and so helps strengthen their jaw bones and teeth.
Remember that a sudden change of diet may cause an upset tummy, so introduce new diets slowly and gradually.
Purchase a jar of unprocessed pure honey from the fruit shop (supermarket honey is far too processed), and keep it on hand at all times. A good finger scoop rubbed on the roof of the mouth will bring a little one out of a "sugar drop" and could avoid a death.
Sometimes, we have a Chihuahua who has extremely dry, itchy or flaky skin and I will give the dog flax seed or fish oil - but you must check with your vet first to make sure it is ok for your Chihuahua.
If you are unsure, always check with your vet first to make sure it is ok for your Chihuahua - we want to keep them safe!
These little dogs do not require bathing very often. Too many baths and their coats tend to become very dry and lose most of its luster and shine. A good brush daily will ensure dead hair and any flaky skin etc is removed without harm to the dog or it's coat, and will help with the growth of new hair.
Some people believe that the short coat Chihuahua does not require the same amount of grooming as those with a long coat. I believe this to be incorrect. I have found that the smooth coats still shed dead hair etc. and this needs to be brushed out to keep the coat nice and shiny and prevent skin itchiness.
A good lukewarm bath with a doggy shampoo is always required if the dog is extremely dirty, smelly, and riddled with fleas. We see quite a number in this state when first rescued.
CLEANING EYE AREA
Some Chihuahua's eyes water exceedingly and leave a dark stain around the eye area. I have often heard "My little Chi cries a lot". Our Vet advises that they are not actually "crying". Mostly it is caused by minute particles of dirt or dust from the floor getting into their eyes and causing them to tear. A soft cloth dipped in lukewarm water and a soft and gentle wash around the eye area of the stain, done on a regular basis will soon remove the darkened patches. For such a tiny dog they have rather large eyes, and being so close to the ground, it is easy to get bits of dust in their eyes.
A fairly common trait in the Chihuahua breed is a sort of choking coughing which quite often happens when there is great excitement, or rapid exercise. For the novice it can be quite frightening. The dog stands there and appears to be unable to get his breath as he gasps and chokes. A gentle massage along the throat from chin downwards will normally relax the dog enough for this to clear. It is caused by the soft palate falling over the airways. If your dog coughs while they are resting or without a reason, check with your vet.
FEEDING A CHIHUAHUA
Due to the Chihuahua's very small size these little dogs require feeding more often than much larger dogs. The very small Chihuahua requires feeding regularly and often, where-as the larger ones do not require feeding as often. When deciding the size of a Chihuahua it is best to judge by weight, but also look at the bone structure. A Chihuahua below 1 1/2kg in weight with a very fine bone structure will require feeding smaller amounts four hourly, if not more often. 1 1/2kg to 2kg with very fine bone structure will require feeding at least three times each day, while a good solid bone structured little dog of more than 2 kg can easily get by on twice daily feeds. These little dogs have very small stomachs so are unable to digest huge quantities of food in one sitting. When it is not possible to be home to feed often we use pasta, rice, and porridge to thicken their meals.
There are commercial dog foods that are suitable to feed a Chihuahua, but you need to be very aware that the SALT content in many dog foods is far too high for a tiny little body to cope with, and the high salt content will slowly kill the dog. Bearing in mind the Chihuahua is a very small animal and can fade very rapidly in a matter of hours! Some signs to watch out for when feeding commercial dog foods are sporadic vomiting, wind, diarrhoea, continual scratching, dullness of coat, or any one of these symptoms. Salt is used as a preservative so be very wary when selecting a commercial dog food. Salt affects the kidneys and the heart muscle in small dogs
Chihuahua Rescue Victoria has always prepared the food for our little "rescues" using a good quality beef, pasta, rice, rolled oats, oils, garlic, green and yellow vegetables and some fruits. This stew is fed daily (or twice daily if required) with some chopped cooked chicken and some raw beef on top. A good quality dried commercial dog food is constantly available all day for the dogs to "graze" on. Any little "sickly" dog is given daily doses of a good quality vitamin/mineral supplement such as Nitragell. The really small ones are fed an additional "stew" meal midday. We always give a raw chicken neck every second day to exercise their jaws and aids in keeping their teeth clean. Large raw beef, lamb bones are given weekly and these last for several days until they become too smelly.
The really old dogs are fed similarly to the very small Chihuahua, smaller feeds more often. We have found that despite their lack of teeth, they still like to "mouth" a raw chicken neck which seems to help exercise their jaw structures. We do not soak their dried food but allow them to "mouth" the little biscuits and soften them with their saliva.
Diabetics will know this term as Hypoglycaemia, however when talking about small breed dogs, in particular the Chihuahua, we refer to this as "sugar drop". There are two types of "sugar drop".
The first is seen in older puppies and adult Chihuahua's. The smaller Chihuahua's are more prone to this phenomenon, however sugar drop can occur in all Chihuahua's if they are over active in play or exercise; walked for too long; becomes over excited and overactive; lack of appetite so failing to eat sufficient food; is left without food for longer than six hours or so; miss out on their fair share of food when stronger playmates push them aside. Some of the very small Chihuahua's can become effected by sugar drop when handled too much or too actively; shock; change of home; change of diet; change of routine; tummy upsets etc.
Signs to watch out for are:- glassy or staring eyes; squatting down and scrabbling with front legs but getting nowhere; passing out completely and falling on side; lying on side and trying to "walk" (this is often mistakenly called an epileptic fit).
What do you do? Urgently give the dog honey or glucose on the roof of the mouth and tongue. In all cases, even if comatose, so long as they are still breathing, they will still be able to swallow. They will require about half a teaspoonful given in one or more doses. Comfort the little one at the same time as they sometimes are frightened. Once recovered , are up and walking, give food such as high carbohydrate foods, as they will be hungry.
The other is seen only in puppies and all breeders of small dogs will be, or should be, aware of the treatment and care of puppies suffering from the sugar drop which is different for baby puppies.
DISINTEGRATING JAW STRUCTURE
This was a doggy problem that I had never heard of, that is, until six years ago when we picked up this little starving dog whom we later named "Elvis". He was starving as he had been wandering on the streets and could not find food to eat, and because he had no lower jaw (hence so bottom teeth) he could not eat any of the food that was available on the streets. Refer to Elvis story in success stories on the web page. With hand feeding and vitamin supplements, Elvis gained weight and some joy in living. He was placed with a loving family who gave him his last months of happiness and love.
October 2004. Now we are actually seeing this phenomenon occur in front of our eyes. PEACHES is a tiny little Chihuahua showing a fragile bone structure. Peaches was about ten years of age when she was rescued from under a house and bought in to Chihuahua Rescue. She was pregnant and was allowed to have the puppy before speying.
Checking up on her history this poor little dog had been having litter after litter every season without respite for her entire ten years of life, so it had not been easy for her. Ten years is too old for most people to adopt a little dog, even though some of them live for many more years. Peaches is one of them. She has been with us now for four years, so she would be about 14 years old.
A few months ago she was licking her lips and mouth a lot, which indicated to us that she had tooth ache or hurting teeth. Her teeth angled outward toward the front of her mouth, instead up upwards. Our Vet told me that she was losing the bone structure of her bottom jaw, and so there was nothing to hold the teeth upright, and that they were annoying her. Hence we had all the bottom teeth that were affected, removed. During this short time we have watched the bone structure disappear. Her tongue hangs out and the bottom jaw and tongue hang down. Amazingly, she is able to eat soft foods, as Elvis did) by "scooping" the food onto her tongue.
This disintegration of the jaw bone structure is caused by the teeth falling out, or being removed, and thus no longer allowing the massage and exercise of chewing, which keeps the teeth and jawbone strong. As the jawbone shrinks, it becomes absorbed into the tissue around the bottom jaw. It would seem that not all Chihuahua’s are affected in this way, but from our observation it would appear to be those who have had a pretty hard life;
are of the very tiny size and have the very fine bone structure.
This problem is not necessarily a Chihuahua only complaint, it is more common to the "big eyes" breeds of dogs.
Sophie was found roaming the streets of the western suburbs of Melbourne with extremely protruding "Cherries" in the corners of both eyes. Our Vet explained that the cherry eye is actually a prolapsed tear gland and does not cause any pain.
There are two options for correction of this complaint. He explained that we could have the gland stitched into the eye socket while she was under anesthetic to be speyed, or she could have a plastic surgery operation where a new "pocket" is formed and the "cherries" stitched into it. The first option was reasonably priced whereas the second option was very expensive. We opted for the first choice, even though our Vet explained that the operation is not necessarily always permanent..
Joyce and Russ met Sophie and fell in love with her. We explained to them the cherry eye syndrome had been stitched back under her eyelid, but had come back already (two weeks or thereabouts after the operation). They decided to adopt her anyway.
Joyce took this photo to show the cherry eyes. Joyce and Russ had to decide if they thought it was worth while to have the plastic surgery operation, or leave the eyes as they were.decided to have the plastic surgery operation done a few months after adopting her, as the eye had developed an ulcer under the eyelid.
What is Cherry Eye?
With a normal dogs eye, the tear gland attaches to the surface under the eyeball. It is attached by a ligament which holds the tear gland in place, and out of sight. When the "cherry" is like Sophie’s was, it means the ligament is either very weak and cannot hold the gland in place, or is non existent. The tear gland then pops out and so looks like a cherry in the corner of the eye.
There are two stages of cherry eye. The first is mostly cosmetic and not causing any pain or irritation to the eye. However, this can deteriorate into the second stage where the swollen gland can actually rub against the cornea of the eye which causes irritation, and in severe cases it causes ulceration, and therefore pain and irritation for the dog. Sometimes excessive tears are formed and dribble down the dogs face.
After Sohpie’s operation she became a gorgeous little dog, and the pride and joy to Joyce and Russ.
Look at those gorgeous EYES!