Caring for your Chihuahua Puppy

Dogs are a little like humans in how they age. A well-cared for puppy tends to lead a healthier, happier life as an adult.

Water: Water is necessary for good health and should be available at all times. If your puppy is not drinking enough, add one part goat milk or puppy formula to two parts water. This will need to be changed every hour and may cause loose stools. If your puppy still does not drink enough, you may use a dropper.

Food: Knowing when, what and how much to feed is critical to your puppy’s success. If possible, a set schedule is very helpful, especially as you work on house-training. Put the food down for approximately 15 minutes and then take it away. If you have to be gone over a meal time, put the next feeding out. Leave fresh water out at all times. Remember that every puppy is different. How much and how often he feeds will depend upon his size and metabolism. The following recommendations are just that–recommendations. It is your responsibility to monitor and adjust your puppy’s food intake.

6 – 12 weeks

You will most likely be taking your puppy home during this age span. We recommend feeding your puppy 4 times a day through this growth period. When you take him home, he may tend to skip a few meals because of the new environment, new schedule, new people, etc. A small puppy cannot afford to do this, as it may cause low blood sugar (see hypoglycemia). If he refuses to eat, try softening his food with warm water, or offer him canned puppy pedigree–lamb & rice. If necessary, experiment with several different foods (make sure it is a high quality puppy food) until you find one he will eat. A lamb and rice formula is easy on the stomach. If your puppy develops diarrhea as a result of stress brought on by all the changes in environment, food, and more, try cooking rice and adding some canned dog food to the rice. Make sure he doesn’t skip more than one meal per day the first several days.

3 – 6 Months

We recommend 3 daily feedings during this stage. Your puppy may start to show less interest in one of the meals. Don’t worry about a skipped meal, watch his body condition. Dogs of the same breed and size may require different amounts of food to maintain the same body weight.

6 – 12 Months

Somewhere in this time-span you should be able to reduce the feedings to just twice a day. Supplements are not necessary. If you are feeding a dry food, the only supplement he needs is water. Careful observation tells us when a puppy is healthy and growing well (but not getting fat). By this time you are the expert. You know his schedule, likes, dislikes, feeding times and amounts, and you know better than anyone else what is best for your puppy.

Picky Eaters: The smaller teacup size puppies can be picky eaters. We normally hold onto these little ones until they’re past this stage, but in case you end up with one, here are a few suggestions of things that may help whet their appetite. Offer Gerber baby meats such as veal, chicken, or turkey. Its easy to slip some onto the puppy’s tongue to get those saliva glands working. For a puppy who is not thriving properly because of lack of appetite, a prescription puppy food, AD, can be obtained from your veterinarian. Avoid giving your puppy people food as their system is not able to handle sugars, starches, etc., except for meat such as chicken, turkey, or hamburger.

Vaccinations: We provide the first vaccination shot for all of our puppies. This shot needs to be repeated every two to three weeks until he is 16 weeks old. Avoid exposing him to other pets that may not be vaccinated (particularly at pet stores). Remember that your puppy is not fully immunized until he has had the fourth and final shot. He will then need a yearly booster shot.

Housetraining: Housetraining your puppy isn’t hard, just be consistent. He is already partially paper-trained. At first, confine him to a small paper-covered area. Put his food and water on the paper and the pet carrier/bed in the corner. Gradually allow him in more areas of your house as he becomes consistent with going potty on the paper. Feel free to move the paper a little at a time if you want to change his potty location. For example, if you want him to start going potty outside, move the paper several inches a day toward the door and then eventually put it outside. Once he is used to going outside, timing is everything. He will probably need to “go” after each of the following: waking up, eating, and playing. Remember, until your puppy is around 3 months old, he will have to relieve himself quite frequently (every couple hours). However, he is naturally less likely to do so in a confined area and may be able to “hold it” until the next potty break.

Environment & the Den Instinct: Your puppy must be kept warm and away from drafts but not overheated. A little known fact for new puppy owners is that most puppies like their pet carrier, especially when its padded with a soft blanket (like a den). It is their haven for relaxation and sleep. If you limit the daytime use to several hours, he will be ready for bed at night. By nature, he doesn’t like to soil his den. This can help teach him where and when its appropriate to go potty. A good pet carrier is well-ventilated and suited to the size of your puppy (he should have plenty of room to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably).

Exercise: Chihuahuas love to romp and play and get most of their exercise this way, but some may need to be walked on a regular basis. Some benefits of daily physical activity include building muscle mass, keeping their heart strong, and maintaining healthy joints and an appropriate weight. However, be sure to avoid extreme temperatures.

Grooming: Bathe your puppy only when necessary and make sure he doesn‘t get chilled. Several baths per month are sufficient. To avoid ear infections, keep all soap and water away from his ears. If necessary, wipe the ears with a warm cloth. Use a soft brush on his coat daily and keep his nails trimmed.

Soft Spot: Most puppies, just like babies, have a soft spot on the top of their head. This is especially true of the teacups. It normally closes in the first year and a half, but until it closes, its extremely important to protect that spot from injury. To help prevent injury, keep your puppy from bumping his head and playing too rough. In addition, don’t allow anyone to touch the soft spot. The Chihuahua is the only breed that a soft spot can be normal.

Diarrhea: Diarrhea has numerous causes and is serious especially in young puppies because it may cause dehydration. Some home remedies include feeding cooked rice with the puppy’s food mixed in, cottage cheese or chunks of regular cheese, and soaking hard food instead of feeding canned food. If the diarrhea continues for 2 – 3 days, it may be necessary to have your puppy tested for coccidia or giardia. Your veterinarian may prescribe a treatment of albon or antibiotics to solve the problem.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): This is a central nervous system disorder caused by a low blood sugar. It occurs mainly in toy breeds between 6 and 12 weeks of age, and is often caused by stress, exhaustion, over-activity, etc. Hypoglycemia can occur without warning when a puppy is placed in a new home, or while being transported. It might even appear if a puppy misses a meal, has an upset stomach, or chills. The first signs are those of listlessness and depression. They are followed by muscular weakness, tremors (especially in the face), and later convulsions, coma and death. The entire sequence is not always seen. The dog may simply appear depressed, wobbly or jerky, or may be found in a coma. Prolonged or repeated attacks may cause permanent damage to the brain. Treatment is directed at restoring blood levels of glucose and should begin immediately. Call your licensed veterinarian for specific instructions. If the puppy is awake, karo syrup, honey, or sugar in water may be given by mouth. Pedialyte may also be given. The puppy should begin to improve in minutes. If the puppy is unconscious he will have to be given a Dextrose solution (IV) intravenously. In this case, a veterinarian should be seen at once. Recurrent attacks may be prevented by feeding a high quality puppy food diet and adding to it sugar, syrup, or honey. At times it may be necessary to feed a prescription puppy food (such as AD) for a certain length of time. Again, see your licensed veterinarian for specific instructions.