You remember when your Chi was a little pooch – full of energy. But over the years thing shave changed…
And you realize that your dog is now a senior.
And as an elderly Chihuahua, they have specific needs. So, as a loving dog parent, you start asking yourself how to take care of them in the best possible way…
No more wondering! This article will tell you everything you need to know and…
- 4 supplements you should give your Chi daily.
- How to ensure your Chi moves safely and comfortably around the house.
- 15 medical conditions that could put your Chi’s wellbeing in danger (#1 lists them all).
- An effective way to prevent your senior Chihuahua from slipping and hurting themselves.
- And much, much more…
Table of contents
- 17 easy and important tips on how to take care of an elderly/senior Chihuahua
- #1: Schedule a regular check-up with the vet
- #2: Maintain regular exercise
- #3: Provide a comfortable bed
- #4: Give them daily supplements
- #5: Provide them easy access to their favorite spots
- #6: Take care of your Chi’s mouth
- #7: Give them high-quality dog food
- #8: Give them low-calorie meals
- #9: Give them a quiet place to sleep
- #10: Set the right temperature at home
- #11: Help them deal with hearing problems
- #12: How to deal with vision problems
- #13: Give them a special diet for certain conditions
- #14: Give them toys and playtime
- #15: Avoid slipping accidents
- #16: Keep some potty pads ready
- #17: Have an endless supply of patience
17 easy and important tips on how to take care of an elderly/senior Chihuahua
#1: Schedule a regular check-up with the vet
A lot of things happen to a Chihuahua when they enter old age.
They become more prone to some illnesses and diseases. They start to lose hearing or vision.
All these changes can cause them stress. Thus, it’s important for you, as the owner, to be one step ahead.
That said, schedule a check-up with the vet. Preferably twice a year.
Because early intervention goes a long way in ensuring your Chi’s health.
These vet visits are usually routine checkups and whenever there are health problems. Your vet will screen your pooch for various medical conditions.
- Liver disease.
- Breast cancer.
- Dental disease.
- Sight problems.
- Kidney disease.
- Weight gain/loss.
- Hearing problems.
- Prostate disease for males.
- Canine cognitive dysfunction.
- Uterus cancer for intact females.
- Testicular cancer for intact males.
- Heart ailments (such as an enlarged heart).
When to start the checkups depends on your vet’s preference. But they may recommend starting these checkups when your Chi turns 8.
#2: Maintain regular exercise
One thing you’ll notice from your senior Chihuahua:
They slow down gradually.
These days they take longer to rise from their bed. They run slower than before. And most of all, they become tired easily.
But these don’t mean that they should stop exercising. On the contrary, they need to stay limber and healthy.
This is to improve theirr mobility and prevent gaining weight. Obesity is a major problem for this breed of dog. Yes, even if they don’t eat that much food.
When you take your dog to the vet, request for a body condition evaluation.
This determines whether your dog is underweight or overweight. Or whether their weight is ideal for their age.
You can also ask your vet to teach you how to evaluate your Chi’s body condition at home.
Caution: Your senior Chihuahua’s exercise must be appropriate for their health conditions.
You can gradually increase their exercise if they’re healthy.
For instance, you can take them walking up to 2 times a day. Make sure your pace is comfortable for them.
If your senior has regular walks, add 5 to 10 minutes to a session.
#3: Provide a comfortable bed
Chihuahuas, especially those with arthritis, are going to love a soft bed.
Consider investing in a canine orthopedic bed. This bed is perfect for small to medium-sized dogs, such as a Chihuahua.
The bed is made of memory foam, which is perfect for dogs that have joint or bone problems. The couch arms, on the other hand, provide good support for their neck.
A squeaker toy comes with the bed.
Here are a few other things to consider when getting a bed for your senior dog:
- Make sure it provides warmth for your pet. Warmth helps to loosen the stiffness of joints. And remember, they get cold easily. A warm bed makes all the difference in the world.
- Get a bed with a slip-proof bottom.
- Look for a bed that has a waterproof layer, in case of accidents.
#4: Give them daily supplements
A lot of age-related illnesses affect senior Chihuahuas. Thus, you’re going to need as much help as you can find.
Thanks to supplements, you can provide your dog with their much-needed nutrients.
Here are some supplements your Chi can benefit from:
- Chondroitin – to help prevent cartilage from breaking down.
- Omega 3 supplement – to keep their hair and coat healthy and shiny.
- Fish oil – for heart, joints, skin, and immune system. It also helps with pain and inflammation.
- Glucosamine – to ease osteoarthritis pain. This Glucosamine supplement will be a terrific choice for your senior Chihuahua.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are better given when your dog turns 6 years old. These supplements will help prevent joint issues in the future.
Note: Get your vet’s approval for the supplements you give your Chi.
#5: Provide them easy access to their favorite spots
Senior Chihuahuas will have a hard time climbing up and down the stairs.
Or even jumping up on the couch.
Make it easy for them by providing steps or ramps. You can use these to help them get to their favorite spots in the house.
With these ramps, your Chi no longer has to jump. They avoid hurting themselves when going up and down the couch or bed.
There are portable ramps that are foldable. Thus, storage is easy.
There are also ramps that have an anti-skid surface. Choose this kind of ramp so that your Chi doesn’t slip and fall over.
#6: Take care of your Chi’s mouth
Brush your Chihuahua’s teeth right from the start. It will prevent dental problems from arising in the future.
Also, give them dental toys and treats to help keep their pearly whites strong and clean.
You can also bring your Chihuahua to the vet. He can do a thorough cleaning of the teeth and removal of tartar buildup.
What’s more, your vet can spot the early signs of periodontal disease.
Did you know that periodontal disease afflicts 80% of all dogs by age 2?
Including Chihuahuas. In fact, this breed is more prone to dental disease.
Not only does it affect their dental health. It also affects their overall health.
Caution: If their teeth are neglected, it can lead to kidney, liver, and heart disease.
If your Chi has dental problems, they won’t be able to eat properly. This can lead to weight loss.
This research suggests brushing daily. However, it could seem overwhelming, thus most owners don’t do it.
But this study finds out that brushing your dog’s teeth at least 3 times a week is ideal. The researchers found out that this frequency is enough to keep gingivitis at bay.
#7: Give them high-quality dog food
Along with exercise, a healthy diet is vital for a healthy and long life.
Although there are dog foods formulated for senior dogs, you don’t have to make the switch. Especially if your dog is healthy and likes their particular dog food.
Also, there’s no need to switch if your Chi takes supplements and their dog food is already of high quality.
But if you want to switch, start giving it to them when they’re 10.
One good thing about senior dog food is that it contains fewer calories. Remember, Chihuahuas are prone to weight gain.
Even other breeds have difficulty losing weight once they become senior.
Senior dog food also contains more protein. This helps your Chihuahua to maintain muscle mass.
This is good news for Chihuahuas that are not as active as before.
In addition, senior dog food contains more fiber to help for a smooth digestive system. It also contains other nutrients such as omegas, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
Speaking of a smooth digestive system, here’s what to do if your senior Chihuahua experiences constipation:
Add apple pieces or pumpkin ones to their meals.
Just make sure the apple has no seeds and no peel. And the pumpkin must be the real pumpkin, and not the one used in pie filling.
#8: Give them low-calorie meals
If your Chihuahua has to lose weight, start with low-calorie meals.
Give them more low-calorie vegetables for healthy meals. Decrease the amount of their kibble and add green beans, kale, and spinach.
You can also replace their kibble with one that’s formulated for losing weight.
#9: Give them a quiet place to sleep
Dogs sleep a lot.
According to the American Kennel Club, an adult dog sleeps between 12-14 hours a day. As they get older, they sleep more to rest their mind and body.
You’ll notice from your senior Chihuahua that they have longer and more naps throughout the day.
This is completely normal. Just as long as there are no underlying conditions that make them sleep more that is.
Be observant of your dog’s sleeping pattern. In some cases, too much sleeping is an indication of arthritis or hypothyroidism.
But how do you figure out if there are underlying medical conditions? Here are some signs:
- They sleep in different places.
- The Chi can’t curl up to sleep.
- Your pooch sleeps standing or sitting.
- Your dog sleeps through loud sounds.
- There are signs of pain and discomfort.
- Your dog is awake at night and wanders in a confused state.
All of these have underlying health conditions. Bring your dog to your vet for a checkup.
To help your senior Chi get the most out of sleep, make sure they are comfortable.
Their bed must be in a corner where there is no foot traffic to disrupt their sleep.
But make sure that their corner is in a room that the family uses frequently. Chihuahuas need more sleep but they wouldn’t want to be excluded or isolated.
Also, keep them away from drafty areas, such as by the door. Senior Chihuahuas get cold easily.
#10: Set the right temperature at home
Senior Chihuahuas can’t tolerate the cold.
Since they have small bodies, they have little mass. Add to that their thin and sparse coat.
Thus, when it’s winter, the cold makes them uncomfortable. They have no extra body fat for insulation.
And when they grow older, their body cannot regulate temperature. So they could be shivering even if you think the weather is warm.
To keep your Chihuahua warm, make sure they are indoors. Put layers of blankets on their bed for added warmth.
And don’t forget to leave blankets on their favorite spots where they can burrow.
In addition, maintain the right temperature inside the house. A warm temperature is between 69℉ – 72℉ (20.5℃ to 22℃).
If you need to leave the house, set the thermostat no lower than 60℉ (15.5℃).
Caution: Avoid leaving your senior dog alone for longer than 6 hours. However, the length of time you can leave them depends on certain medical conditions. For instance, if they need to go to the bathroom more often, it’s not advisable to leave them this long.
If you can’t check on your Chi from time to time, hire a pet sitter.
#11: Help them deal with hearing problems
The sense of hearing starts deteriorating when Chihuahuas get old.
It can be scary for you as an owner. But more so for your dog, who uses this sense a lot.
You know it’s a hearing problem if your Chi does not respond when you call them. Sometimes they get startled when you try to wake them up.
If their hearing problem is age-related, there’s nothing you can do to fix it. But, you can make it easy for your dog in small ways.
For instance, avoid startling them when waking them up. Instead, hold your hand in front of their nose, then touch their back.
And since they have a hard time hearing, it’s essential to use gestures in place of verbal cues.
You can pet them instead of saying ‘Good boy/girl.’ Or use hand signals for commands.
#12: How to deal with vision problems
A Chihuahua will experience eye problems as they age.
One of the most common eye problems is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). This is also known as ‘dry eye syndrome.’
KCS is a condition where the tear films do not function properly. It then leads to dry and swollen eyes.
This is a very common eye disease among dogs. In North America alone, it’s responsible for 0.3% – 1.52% of annual incidents.
According to this research, KCS can be caused by a lot of factors, including:
- Immune mediated.
- Infectious (caused by canine distemper virus)
- Metabolic (caused by diabetes and hypothyroidism).
- Drug induced (caused by sedatives or local anesthetic).
If your Chi has KCS, they will blink more than usual. There will also be an ocular discharge, swelling of the eyes, and inflamed third eyelid.
Aside from KCS, your dog may experience vision impairment as they get old. Look out for these symptoms:
- Cannot find toys.
- Gets startled easily.
- Bumps into furniture and walls.
- Doesn’t want to go out at night.
There are a few things you can do to help your Chi. For one, do not change the arrangement of your furniture. Two, do not change your walk routes.
#13: Give them a special diet for certain conditions
If your dog has certain diseases, it helps to give them a specialized diet. With your vet’s approval, of course.
If your Chi has a heart disease, give them food lower in sodium. If they have a kidney disease, give them food that helps control phosphorus and calcium.
#14: Give them toys and playtime
They may be growing old, but they still need to play.
Interactive toys and puzzles are not only to keep them active. These help keep their mind sharp.
In addition, giving them toys will keep them healthy, occupied, and entertained.
Make sure you spend time on your play sessions with your Chihuahua. They need to know that you’ll be there to take care of them as long as it takes.
Look at how this mom opened her home to several senior Chihuahuas:
The Chihuahuas look happy and are enjoying their ‘retirement.’
Your Chihuahua can also be happy during her senior years.
#15: Avoid slipping accidents
Your senior Chihuahua is no longer as limber as before. Thus, they can easily slip on floors and surfaces.
There are 2 solutions to keep them safe. One is paw wax, which you can apply twice a week.
This paw wax is a terrific choice for your Chihuahua. It is made of food-grade waxes and oils. So it won’t be a problem in case your Chi ingests it.
In addition, it dries fast and is non-staining. So you’ll have no problem with your carpets or clothing.
You can also use this on your Chihuahua’s nose, ears and elbows.
Note: If your dog is slipping, you’ve put too much wax. Massage the wax into the paw pads and in between. Then wipe off any excess.
Another solution is by placing carpets or rugs over hard and slick floors. It helps your Chihuahua get around without slipping.
#16: Keep some potty pads ready
Bowel control is one of the things to consider when your Chihuahua enters old age.
That’s because Chihuahuas experience incontinence from age 11 and above.
While this is a sign of aging, it could also be an indication of other health issues. One of which is urinary tract infection.
For that reason, keep potty pads handy. These are a huge help for Chihuahuas that can’t make it outside. This would be their safe spot to poop or pee without damaging your flooring.
An alternative to using potty pads is bringing your Chi to the bathroom more often. And give them a longer time for bowel movement.
You can also set up a playpen for your Chihuahua with potty pads. Much better if you set this up in an area that is easy to clean.
But when you’re not home to help your Chihuahua, potty pads are your best bet.
#17: Have an endless supply of patience
Chihuahuas are blessed with a long life.
According to AKC, a Chihuahua can live up to 16 years. They will become senior at around 10 years of age. This means that you’ll spend many years with a senior dog.
That said, always be patient with your pooch.
So the next time your Chi has a small accident before reaching the pee pad, be patient. If they can’t finish an exercise routine, be patient as well.
Patience is one of the things they’ll need from you in their old age.