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What Do Chihuahuas Usually Die From?

What Do Chihuahuas Usually Die From?

For pet owners, the death of their sweet dogs is a sensitive subject. Many prefer to never really think about it for as long as possible.

However, it is always a good idea to know what to expect when you add a furry friend as part of your family.

 You want to predict when he will leave your family for good so you can prepare accordingly.

If you are considering having a Chihuahua for a pet, knowing when she’ll leave your side helps manage expectations.

Chi’s are some of the longest-living dog breeds in the world along with other toy breeds. They live for anywhere between 12-18 years depending on their care given, genes, environment, etc.

The reason for the long lifespan isn’t yet clear but some believe that smaller dogs age at a slower rate than their bigger counterparts. Learn more here: Why Do Chihuahuas Live So Long?

But even with long lifespans, Chihuahuas come to the end of their lives at some point.

What do they usually die from?

Common Causes of Deaths in Chihuahuas

Researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) conducted a study in 2016 to establish some of the causes that take different dogs to the grave.

For Chihuahuas, the following were the findings.

1. Heart Disease (18.8%)

On top of the list of Chihuahuas’ killer medical conditions is heart disease.

Because of wear and tear throughout the dog’s life, the heart sometimes malfunctions in one way or another.

Some Chis inherit the condition from their parents but a big majority acquire it along the way.

Some of the common cardiovascular diseases in Chihuahuas include the following:

A. Valve Deterioration

This is a condition where the valve that regulates the flow of blood is deformed so that it stops closing completely.

What happens is that blood leaks back and strains the heart in turn.

Other heart valve issues that trigger heart disease in Chihuahuas include stenosis (heart valve doesn’t open enough to let blood flow well) and valve prolapse (bulging of the valve into the upper chamber of the heart).

B. Heart failure

This occurs when the heart doesn’t pump blood effectively causing blood to back up and create a buildup in the lungs.

What happens is that the dog will have shortness of breath.

Narrowed arteries and high blood pressure can cause heart failure in your beloved Chi.

C. Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia refers to a situation where the electrical impulse traveling through the heart’s muscle is compromised.

It can either do this by traveling through an incorrect pathway or failing to initiate correctly.

2. Lower Respiratory Tract Disorder (16.3%)

The lower respiratory tract of your dog includes the bronchi, trachea, alveoli, and bronchioles.

These organs essentially facilitate the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of the lungs respectively.

Any infection in any part of the tract can cause a Chihuahua severe problems including death.

Examples of lower tract infections include canine distemper virus, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, tracheal collapse, lung disease, and Rhinitis.

3. Trauma (13.8%)

Because of their small size, Chihuahuas are often victims of many forms of traumatic injuries.

They are constantly picked and dropped by kids – sometimes with enough force to cause trauma.

Others are stepped on by accident or get knocked by cars or motorcycles.

What may appear as minor trauma to a bigger dog can hurt a toy breed in so many ways.

 For one, it can cause head trauma which can prove fatal fast.

Trauma also leads to bone fractures, internal bleeding, joint dislocation, skin wounds, and organ injuries.

4. Brain Disorders (11.3%)

Brain disorders have also been shown to affect Chihuahuas. These are disorders of the nervous system including the following:

  • Seizures: This is a sudden electrical disturbance in a dog’s brain. It causes changes in his behavior, feelings or movements, and consciousness. Seizures are caused by a lack of calcium, low blood sugar, tumors, infections, and epilepsy.
  • Hydrocephalus: This is a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. What happens is that the brain will experience pressure and may bulge causing pain and loss of brain function. Small dogs are predisposed to the condition.
  • Cerebral degeneration: Refers to the death of cerebellum cells caused by canine herpes.
  • Encephalitis: This denotes the infection and inflammation of the brain, meninges, and spinal cord. Causes include bacterial, parasitic, viral infections and tick-borne diseases.
  • Brain tumor: A mass or swelling within the brain.

5. Enteropathy (6.3%)

The term enteropathy refers to a disease in a dog’s gut. It is typically an accumulation of cells within the canine stomach lining or the small and large intestines.

The condition used to be called inflammatory bowel disease in veterinary medicine.

 The cause of the disease is not clear but experts believe that it is triggered by dietary antigens (proteins) or intestinal bacterial antigens.

Fortunately, enteropathy can be treated through dietary changes. If it doesn’t respond to diet, antibiotics and immunosuppressive therapy can be administered.

6. Poor Quality Life

Taking good care of your Chihuahua is vital as it has been shown that poor quality of life is another leading cause of death in the breed.

You can tell your pet has a bad quality of life if they are constantly in pain, struggling to get around, having trouble eating and drinking, showing issues with the use of the toilet, displaying changes in their behavior, failing to clean themselves properly, and having more bad days than good days in general.

 If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to the vet about improving your pet’s quality of life.

Else, you might lose them sooner than later.

7. Renal disease

Although it’s low in the percentage of factors that lead to mortality of Chihuahuas, renal failure is also worth a mention.

It refers to the loss of kidney function in a dog. It can be grouped into chronic renal failure (gradual over a period of weeks, months, or years) or acute renal failure (sudden decrease in the function of the kidney over a period of hours or days).

Renal failure is caused by congenital disease, bacterial infections, dental disease, geriatric degeneration, and toxicosis.


There it is – 7 causes that cause death in Chihuahuas.

If you are looking to own a Chi or already have one at home, you might want to pay attention to the above.

While some are out of your control, there are those you can do something about.

Give your best shot and hope for the best for your dog.

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