How to Care for Your Chihuahua Puppy
Chihuahuas are tiny dogs with big personalities who establish loyal and protective relationships with their owners. As puppies, they have a lot of energy and need to be exercised regularly, socialized with other dogs, and fed nutritious foods to keep them healthy. Chihuahua puppies do well with training, love to play, and enjoy exploring their new homes. With care and attention, your new Chihuahua puppy will be a cherished member of your family.
Feeding Your Chihuahua Puppy
1. Feed your puppy a healthy food. Like other puppies, Chihuahuas need nutritious diets to keep them healthy. They do not need to be fed a specific diet but you should ask your veterinarian for brand recommendations.
- Like other small dogs, Chihuahuas are at risk of developing heart and kidney problems if they are fed a diet high in salt. Look a dog food that is low in salt to help avoid this issue.
- Chihuahua puppies need more protein and calories than adults so look for a nutrient dense food.
- Canned puppy food may be easier for your puppy to eat at first since it is easier to chew but dry kibble typically provides better nutrition.
2. Feed on a schedule. Chihuahua puppies have very small stomachs but very fast metabolisms. They need to be fed multiple times a day to maintain their energy, maintain their blood sugar levels, and to help them grow. How many times they need to eat a day will usually depend on their age:
- For the first six months you should feed your Chihuahua four times a day.
- From six months to one year of age they should be fed three times a day.
- After one year they will reach maturity and can be fed twice a day.
- Feeding on a schedule is very important during housetraining since you can predict that your dog will need to relieve themselves about half an hour after eating.
3. Provide water at all times. Chihuahua puppies can become easily dehydrated since they expend a lot of energy throughout the day. Always leave out fresh clean water for them in a bowl that is shallow enough for them to reach into and won’t tip over.
- Puppies may try to climb into water bowls if they are too difficult for them to drink from and can drown.
4. Avoid foods that are toxic to puppies. There are a number of foods that are toxic for dogs to eat. Even very small amounts of these foods can be very dangerous for Chihuahua puppies because of their small size.You should also avoid feeding them table scraps. Human food is often very calorically dense and can cause weight gain, which is very common in Chihuahuas and is dangerous for their health.
- Alcohol, caffeine, avocado, chocolate, grapes, dried fruits (like raisins), dairy, onions, garlic, and salt are all dangerous for your dog.
- Feeding your puppy table scraps also encourages negative behaviors like begging and can easily account for one-third of their daily food intake needs.
Exercising and Training Your Puppy
1. Let your puppy adjust to their new home. Arriving at a new home can be an overwhelming experience for your new Chihuahua. They need time to become comfortable with you as their new owner, other pets, and in their new homes. It is very important to love and be affectionate with them during their first few days so they can feel comfortable.If you have other pets at home, you will need to introduce them to your new puppy.
- Supervise your puppy as they explore their new home, as this is the best way to keep them out of trouble.
- The length of the adjustment period will depend upon your pet’s personalities, but you should be prepared for the dogs to need some time to become fully comfortable around the other.
- An older dog that is used to being the only pet in the household may adjust more slowly to a new and energetic puppy, while other dogs are happy to have a new friend. Supervise these first interactions and be on the lookout for any aggressive behaviors from either pet.
2. Introduce your puppy to new situations. Your Chihuahua needs to be taught the appropriate ways to interact with new people, animals, and environments. Exposing your puppy to new situations and people early on helps to establish future habits.
- There is a critical socialization period for puppies (usually the first sixteen weeks) that is crucial in shaping your dog’s future temperament and behaviors.
- Ask friends and family members with friendly dogs to come to your home to meet your new puppy. This is a controlled environment where you will know that the other dogs are vaccinated and you can step in if any aggressive behaviors are shown.
3. Bond with your puppy. Chihuahuas often form strong bonds with their owners and you want to encourage a strong and healthy relationship with your puppy early on.
- Be physically affectionate with your puppy by rubbing their belly, patting their head, and petting them.
- Give them praise when they follow your commands and respond to their training. This is a good way to reinforce good behavior and helps your puppy associate you with pleasant feelings.
- Spend time with your puppy. Chihuahuas want to spend time with their owners and want their love and attention. Make sure you can spend some time every day, even if it is only in short increments, giving your puppy your undivided attention
4. Exercise your puppy daily. Chihuahua puppies have very high energy levels and need to be exercised daily to expend this energy or they will become hyper or destructive. A well exercised puppy is a happy puppy!
- Your puppy should go on two short walks for about 15 to 20 minutes each day.
- Over-exercise can be detrimental to growing puppies so encourage them to play and exercise as much as they want to but not beyond their energy level.
- Play games with your puppy to provide mental stimulation. Take a toy and hide it in an easy to find spot. Encourage your puppy to find the toy and reward them with praise when they find it. You may need to lead your puppy to the area a few times until they understand the game.
- Chihuahuas enjoy playing fetch but make sure you use a toy that is small enough for your puppy to hold on to.
5. Teach them to walk on a leash. Once your puppy has received their full set of puppy vaccinations, you can begin to take them on walks in public. Since walking is an easy way for them to get exercise, they should be taught to walk on a leash early.
- Use a harness while going on walks since collars can be easily slipped off of their small necks. A 6 foot leash is typically a good length to use on walks.
- Teach them to heel and match your gait by stopping whenever your puppy walks too far ahead of you. Wait until the leash is fully extended and the puppy can’t go any further before you call their name and encourage them to come back to you. Eventually, they will learn that the walk won’t continue until they stay by your side.
6. Housetrain your puppy. Housetraining requires owners and puppies to work together and follow a consistent schedule. Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviors and be aware that accidents will happen.
- Schedule their trips to their designated bathroom areas based on their age. Generally, you should expect to increase the time between trips for each month. So a two month old puppy should go out every two hours while a five month old puppy can wait every five hours.
- Plan ahead when you know you won’t be home for several hours. When you know that you won’t be able to take your puppy out for several hours, keep them in a gated area with floors that are easy to clean. You can also provide puppy pads during times like these.
7. Teach them basic commands. Chihuahuas have big personalities and will try to assert themselves as the leader of the pack if you let them. Establish yourself as the leader by training your dog to follow commands like sit, stay, and come.
- Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviors but do not reward bad behaviors.
- It is easier to establish good behaviors early on rather than to break behavioral problems later on.
- Be consistent and firm during your training and practice basic commands with your puppy at least fifteen minutes every day.
8. Consider crate training your dog. Crate training uses your puppy’s natural instinct to find a safe space to sleep in. If you decide to crate train, gradually increase the amount of time they stay in the crate until they can spend the entire night there comfortably.
- Do not force your puppy into the crate. Use treats and toys to help them associate the crate as a happy and pleasant environment.
Keeping Your Chihuahua Puppy Healthy and Safe
1. Puppy-proof your home. Chihuahua puppies are naturally curious but can be destructive and get into trouble since they tend to enjoy with their mouths. To keep them safe, you will need to secure any hazardous items in your home.
- Lock away toxic items like medicine, cleaning products, and chemicals.
- Pick up loose items from the floor, especially if they are breakable or fragile.
- Purchase baby or puppy gates to keep your puppy confined to a certain area in your home. It will be helpful during housetraining to keep your puppy in a room with easy to clean floors, like tile or hardwood.
2. Register your puppy. In many states and towns, you will need to register your dog with the municipal government in order to receive identification tags and a dog license.
- There may be a small fee associated with registration. Check with your local government to determine whether there is a fee and how much it will be.
- Attach your puppy’s new identification tags to their collar immediately after you receive them.
3. Visit your veterinarian. Regardless of whether you purchased your new Chihuahua from a breeder or adopted them from a shelter, you will need to take them to the veterinarian so they can receive vaccinations. You should also microchip and spay or neuter your puppy.
- Your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccinations based on the area that you live in. For example, if you live in an area where are a lot of ticks, your vet may recommend a Lyme disease vaccination yearly. Do not let your puppy go out in public or interact with unfamiliar dogs until they have been fully vaccinated.
- The microchip contains your contact information and is extremely helpful if your puppy is ever lost or stolen. It will usually be implanted in the scruff of your puppy’s neck or above their shoulder where they cannot reach it during a routine visit.
- Chihuahua puppies can be spayed between 8 weeks old and 3 months. Chihuahuas should be neutered between 8 weeks and 6 months. Many veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering your Chihuahua before they reach puberty (typically between 4 to 7 months).
- Spaying and neutering can decrease aggression, increase their attention span, and decrease their chances of developing some medical conditions like prostate conditions and womb infections.
4. Maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Chihuahuas often suffer from serious blood sugar problems and need to be fed in small amounts throughout the day to keep their blood sugar from falling or spiking. Young puppies under the age of four months old are the most susceptible to this.
- Regular feeding throughout the day can help to prevent hypoglycemia, which is a dip in blood sugar levels.
- You can stabilize a puppy with dangerously low blood sugars by rubbing honey on their gums. Once they are stabilized, you should take them to your nearest veterinarian or pet hospital.
5. Prevent accidental injuries. Like other small breeds, Chihuahuas are at risk of accidentally injuring themselves by jumping or falling off of furniture. While many owners let their Chihuahuas on furniture, it is generally a good idea to keep them on the ground.
- They have more fragile bones than larger dogs so they are at higher risks of suffering from fractures, internal injuries, and concussions.
- Chihuahuas are at a high risk of suffering from luxating patellas, which is essentially a displaced kneecap, by jumping or overexerting themselves.
- Keep Chihuahua puppies away from small children who can easily hurt them unintentionally.
Grooming Your Chihuahua
1. Brush their coat. Chihuahuas typically have one or two coat types: long or short. Chihuahuas do shed their coats but typically in very manageable amounts due to their size. Use a rubber grooming glove or a soft bristle brush each week to remove the dead hair and keep their coat healthy.
- A long coat is a recessive gene and appears much less frequently than a short coat. Chihuahuas with long coats will shed seasonally and need to be brushed once or twice a week.
2. Trim their nails. Chihuahua puppies have very small nails that need to be trimmed frequently to avoid breakage and overgrowth.
- Be very careful when trimming their nails because their small size can make the quick difficult to identify.
- Chihuahuas have delicate paws and keeping their nails at appropriate lengths can prevent unnecessary stress.
3. Clean their teeth regularly. Chihuahuas have very small mouths and may need to have teeth pulled when there is no room for the teeth to grow. Proper dental care is very important for this breed and their teeth should be brushed two to three times each week, if not daily.
- While most milk teeth (your puppy’s first set of teeth) will fall out during weaning, you may find that your puppy is still teething and is biting items to relieve discomfort.
- Hard bones and toys can help strengthen their gums and prevent tartar buildup.
4. Bathe your puppy regularly. Chihuahua puppies do not need to be bathed unless they are very dirty, muddy, or sticky. They can be bathed up to every other month since puppies have very sensitive skin and over-bathing can lead to skin dryness, rashes, and irritation.
- It can be easier to bathe your Chihuahua in a deep sink rather than a bathtub when they are very small.
- Use a gentle shampoo that is designed for puppies.
5. Protect them from temperature extremes. Chihuahua puppies have thin coats and are very susceptible to extreme temperatures, especially the cold. They were bred for the Mexican heat and often do not do well in the cold. If you do live in a cold area, you will need to make sure your puppy is kept warm when you’re outside.
- Many owners will purchase small coats and sweaters for their dogs to wear.
- Dog booties can help protect their paws from the cold ground.
6. Wipe their ears. Chihuahua puppies have large ears that are prone to wax buildup and dryness that need to be cleaned weekly. If you smell or see any wax buildup in their ears you may need to clean the ears more frequently.
- Use a soft piece of gauze with an ear cleaning solution designed for dogs to wipe their ears down. Gently wipe the inside of their ears and apply a small amount of baby lotion or coconut oil to any dry skin.
- Do not use a cotton tipped swab to clean their ears since it can damage the inner ear and push wax into the ear rather than remove it.
- Chihuahuas can do well in small homes and apartments, making them ideal for city living.
- They tend to bond closely with one person but can form strong relationships with multiple family members.
- Chihuahuas have big personalities and can become very bossy and aggressive if they are not trained appropriately.
- Never purchase a puppy that is less than 8 weeks old.
- Chihuahua puppies should never be left alone outside since they can become easy prey for wild animals and predatory birds.