Chihuahuas make great indoor pets. But how about outdoor?
If you’re wondering whether it’s safe for Chihuahuas to live and sleep outside, you’ve come to the right place!
This article will tell you everything you need to know about:
- The #1 danger when leaving your Chihuahua outside.
- How anxiety affects whether your Chi should stay in or out.
- What the Chihuahua’s worst enemy when living and sleeping outside is.
- How a Chihuahua can get traumatized by staying outside and how to recognize the signs.
- And more…
Table of contents
- Can Chihuahuas live outside?
- Can Chihuahuas sleep inside?
- 5 dangers of letting your Chihuahua live and sleep outside + 19 tips
Can Chihuahuas live outside?
Chihuahuas can’t live outside for long. They are able to play outside for brief periods, but because of their small size, they have poor protection against the cold and heat alike. You should limit their time outside to 30 minutes a day for exercise.
Can Chihuahuas sleep inside?
Chihuahuas can sleep inside. They are well-suited for indoors because owners have better control over temperature. For afternoon naps, turn the AC on to keep them comfortable. You can use heaters or even your own fireplace for winter. Try to keep room temperatures at 60-65°F (15-18°C).
5 dangers of letting your Chihuahua live and sleep outside + 19 tips
Danger #1: They get lonely quickly
Chihuahuas love to communicate. However, they often feel lonely, especially at a young age.
In fact, they get so anxious that it’s often best to keep them indoors. Doing so makes it easy for them to smell their owners.
You should also give them multiple safe spaces within the house. The more areas you give them to roam around freely, the safer they will feel.
Here are some recommended spots that your Chihuahua will love:
Chihuahuas are room-friendly due to their small size. As a result, you can have them stay and enjoy your room, especially if you have an AC there.
This is another good spot for Chihuahuas. Since they’re small and the room has plenty of food, you can train them to “stay” and “sit” here.
Caution: If your kitchen’s in the dining room, keep them away while you cook. The temperature changes might make your Chihuahua uncomfortable.
This is the premier spot for Chihuahuas. Spacious and easily accessible, they can have fun on their own here or have a place to rest.
Caution: Be sure to dog proof spots that are hard to reach, such as the back of a cabinet or under the couch. Chihuahuas are small, so they’ll reach them easily!
If you must keep your Chihuahua outside for any reason, have a sitter, neighbor or relative accompany them so they don’t get lonely.
If this isn’t possible, keep them outside while doing the following:
Tip #1: Install a pet door
This is useful for giving your Chihuahua a chance to get back in when something makes them anxious, such as storms or loud noises.
Plant traces of your scent inside the house and have another crate prepared for them to retreat into.
Tip #2: Get a fence or playpen
Chihuahuas are slippery dogs due to their size, so you need to keep them contained, while still giving them enough room.
If you have a pet door, make sure the fence offers a path to it so your pet can readily access your house.
Tip #3: Let them take your smell with them
You can take a used cloth with your scent on it and give it to your Chihuahua so they can feel safe.
Note: Only let your Chihuahua sleep outside if they have no separation anxiety. This can be difficult to diagnose since Chihuahuas can become nervous quickly, so consult your vet first!
Danger #2: They can injure themselves behind your back
Chihuahuas are notorious for getting into a lot of tight spaces.
If your gate has holes in them, they might escape into the open road. They might also get stuck within shelves or tight corners.
Since Chihuahuas have small and delicate bone structures, they might develop health issues such as:
The cartilage preventing your dog’s leg bones from grinding against each other is slowly damaged over time. This is a painful condition that occurs more often in older Chihuahuas.
The hips become lopsided and unable to keep up with your pet’s body weight. This can take away their ability to run or even exercise safely.
Your pet’s kneecap is dislodged after running, having their leg stuck or walking at an odd angle. This can cause long-term damage and may require surgery to fix.
Note: In all of these conditions, limping is often the first symptom. You need to catch this quickly before your Chihuahua develops complications. Here is a good video on limping and how to spot signs on your pet:
Most treatments involving bone-related concerns are costly and require operations or extensive therapy. This is why you need to take these preventive measures:
Tip #4: Use a large crate
Chihuahuas will warm up to larger crates due to their need for space and comfort. Try getting something that’s twice or even thrice their size.
Remember to make this crate self-sufficient. Fill up their bowls with water and treats for nightly meals. Keep the crate open.
Tip #5: Seal off certain spots
Place your furniture close together to discourage squeezing into corners. Put slabs of wood underneath cabinets so they can’t come in.
If you’re keeping your Chihuahua outside, have the gates completely sealed off.
Tip #6: Have regular checkups
If your Chihuahua lives outside for extended periods, have monthly checkups. Get X-Rays taken to keep tabs on their joints.
Pay attention to limping or any related changes in behavior or movement.
Tip #7: Invest in home cameras
This will allow you to check for hard-to-reach spots that your Chihuahua may go to.
Tip #8: Place their crate in spacious places
Chihuahuas love to move around. They tend to only go to difficult spots when there’s no space.
You can put their crate in your garage or garden for outdoor stays, but put it in the living room if possible.
Note: Letting your Chihuahua live outside is a risky trial-and-error process. You should only do it if you’re willing to check your Chihuahua constantly and if they have no existing behavioral or physical problems.
Danger #3: They will loudly defend their territory
Chihuahuas aren’t that loud compared to other breeds, but they are territorial.
When they see stray cats or dogs, they will bark with all their cuddly might.
This can cause a lot of noise in the neighborhood, annoying those who just want a good night’s sleep.
Read also: Do Chihuahuas like cats?
However, there are other things that can keep your Chihuahua barking at night:
If you live near a busy highway, nightly honking is your dog’s biggest problem. If the sound gets too close to your gate, they might think they’re intruders.
Critters like ants or lice can also keep your Chihuahua on edge. Their bites can be very itchy, which can make your Chihuahua bark if it becomes unbearable.
Note: If your dog gets lice, have them checked as soon as possible! Since Chihuahuas are small, bloodsucking lice can make them anemic.
Strangers walking past your gate can be seen as intruders by your dogs. Chihuahuas can be active at night, so they can cause chaos if they smell anyone funny.
Thankfully, you can keep all these to a minimum by following these tips:
Tip #9: Do not yell
Yelling only adds to the noise and makes your dogs think you like what they’re doing. Ignore them and keep walking if they seek attention too much. Let them bark until they stop.
Tip #10: Let your neighbors know
If you live in an apartment, you want them to be more understanding of your dog’s behavior. Inform them that you have a Chihuahua around.
Note: Be transparent about behavioral problems so they can adjust and keep triggers away!
Tip #11: Give your pet some puzzles
Chihuahuas are smart dogs with a love of mind games. Try placing special, outdoor treats inside food dispensers like Kong Wobblers.
Note: It’s harder to supervise them during nighttime, so only do this if you want them to stay outside during the day. Use non-squeaky chew toys for nighttime.
Tip #12: Spot any changes in attitude
If your Chihuahua starts to make a mess on purpose, keep them indoors. Excessive barking or whining can mean they have developed a phobia from something outside.
Tip #13: Keep them close to your front/back door
If you have a gate, don’t put your pet near the exit. Put up a playpen and place it near the front door. This will help them relax more since they won’t see anything outside.
Danger #4: Weather is their worst enemy
Chihuahuas have a problem with weather in general. Although some can have double coats, their small size means they easily take in heat or cold.
In fact, the best temperatures for them are 60-65°F (15-18°C), while the best they can deal with is 90°F (32°C). If temperatures exceed these, your Chihuahua might get hurt.
The worst part is that because dogs are clever at hiding their pain, owners don’t often see any problems until their dog is suffering in front of them.
Thus, knowing more about hypothermia and hyperthermia is key.
Here are some signs for hypothermia:
- Impaired gait.
- Lowered heart rate.
- Stiffness in movement.
Note: Shivering is the most neglected sign because it’s often common in Chihuahuas. But bear this in mind especially in snowy environments. Give your pet some heat once they start to shiver.
Tip #14: Gear up your pet
To prevent hypothermia, you need to get your Chihuahua booties and a doggie jacket. These will help them stay warm outdoors.
Tip #15: Get physical during winter
You should only go out on snowy days if you want to play with your dog, since physical activity will help them stay warm. Have them stay indoors if you just want to relax.
During winter, you need to prepare your fireplace or heater. Keep your Chihuahua near the heater when they start to shiver.
Tip #16: Stay home during the cold months
Bring their crate and all other outdoor materials inside. They should not be allowed to go out on their own on cold days.
As for hyperthermia, you need to watch for excessive outdoor temperatures.
When temperatures reach 91.4°F (33°C), your Chihuahua may show worrying signs of heatstroke:
- Unprompted panting.
- Distressed movement.
- Fur being hot to the touch.
Note: In some breeds, panting can sometimes be ignored. However, Chihuahuas can heat up quickly, especially those with double-coats. Bring them to shade when they start showing distress
Thankfully, preventing it is easier than you think. Here’s what you’ll need:
Lots of shade
Chihuahuas can stay indoors for long periods of time because it protects them from the sun. If you need to bring them out, be sure there’s a tree or roof that will protect your pet from the sun’s movements.
Before sending your Chihuahua out, you need to study weather reports. Watch the news or use your phone to stay up to date.
Rehydration stops hyperthermia on the go. Don’t give your Chihuahua cold water because the sudden temperature change might only worsen symptoms.
Caution: When you see any combination of these symptoms, don’t stop at first-aid. Take your dog to their vet and check for any damage, especially after prolonged exposure outside.
Danger #5: They can be traumatized by loud sounds
Chihuahuas are brave dogs that can hear even more than we can.
They can hear the lightest of footsteps, making them great at spotting intruders and thieves. Unfortunately, that is also a weakness.
When they hear sounds like thunder or blaring speakerphones, they can recoil and display the following symptoms:
Chihuahuas can hide underneath things in order to feel safe. If you haven’t dog-proofed your shelves or tables, they could be stuck or suffer injuries trying to weather the storm.
The sudden cracking sound of thunder can cause a dog to do their business prematurely. If they’re trained, pick up the poop and put it on their potty area. This will let them know that the pooping area is still the same.
Chihuahuas can pace around nervously when they start to notice changes in the atmosphere. When you see this happening, bring them inside and let them know you’re close enough to pet them.
Noise anxiety can be hard to prevent because your dog is exposed to all kinds of noises every day.
Once you zero in on a noise they don’t like, you should:
Tip #17: Get a checkup
Owners often detect noise anxiety late, and that’s okay. Some dogs may injure themselves before their owners even realize it. Be there for your Chihuahua and have them checked for any joint-related injuries related to hiding in tight spots.
Tip #18: Use medications
Medicines like Benadryl can help them put to sleep for a quick fix. Don’t forget to ask your vet for the dosage.
Tip #19: Recondition your dog
Play the problematic noise and increase the volume. Feed them with treats for every milestone until they can tolerate it.