Grooming Your Chi

Keeping up Appearances and Care

Grooming Your Chihuahua

Keeping your Chihuahua well-groomed is a fun bonding experience that you both can enjoy. It is also important for her good health. From brushing her silky hair whether smooth or long coated to taking care of her ears, eyes, teeth and nails which are all essential to keep her well groomed and happy as well as to aid and prevent serious health problems. 

Ear Care

Your Chi’s ear canal is a bit more complicated than a human’s ear. The dog’s ear canal is made up of a long vertical segment that then acutely angles horizontally towards the skull.

This alignment causes a moist environment which make sit easy for ear infections to flourish. Thankfully, a Chihuahua’s pointy ears help to provide more air flow to alleviate ear problems which are not a common problem for Chihuahuas.

If you notice ear problems such as inflammation, discharge, debris, foul odor, pain, scratching shaking, head tilting or circling to one side, see your vet right away. Once established, ear problems can be hard to tackle, so it is best to see your vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms.

Underlying problems can include bacterial and yeast infections, ear mites or ticks, or allergies. Ear mites can look like brown discharge or like coffee grounds. Ticks mostly burrow around the ears, neck, chest and in between the toes.

You can check for ticks in these areas yourself and remove with tweezers. Make sure you grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull out, so the head does not stay in your pup and inject its contents. Since the dog’s ear is lined with skin, any skin disorder on other parts of the body can also affect their ears. 

Eye Care

If you see an issue with your Chi’s eyes such as squinting, redness, itching, tearing, dullness, mucus discharge, it should be addressed with your vet immediately. If your dog’s pupils do not react to light or if one eye reacts differently than the other, it is time for an immediate vet visit. This could be a serious ocular or neurological problem. A clear watery discharge could be allergies or something in your pup’s eye or a tear drainage problem. Your vet has a quick test to validate, something I have gone through with my pup. The tear ducts in some Chihuahuas are too small to properly drain away all the tears.

Also watch out for Cherry eye. When their third eyelid (nictitating membrane) slips out of place, it will bulge out. It needs to be treated as soon as possible to avoid additional swelling and other issues. 

Nail Care

Keeping your Chi’s nails neat and trim will make your pup feel and it will be easier for her to walk and play inside and out and on every type of floor. This is especially true for older Chihuahuas. This will prevent your pup’s nails from getting snagged on carpets, bedding, and clothes as well as pulling the nail from the nail-bed or even dislocating the toe.  

Long nails also have a stronger impact on the ground with every step and cause discomfort to your Chi. Untrimmed nails can also cause splayed, broadened feet, and flattened pads where the toes may not to carry weight anymore. It is also painful and uncomfortable for your Chihuahua, so make sure your trim your dog’s as soon as they need it. Your Chi’s nail growth and trimming frequency can vary by the type of surface they spend the most time on, how much time their feet are on the ground, what they eat. Including their balance of vitamins and minerals, and any health conditions they may have.

Cutting your Chi’s nails is easiest when they are in your lap laying backwards. I start with one paw and pat my Chi’s head in between on each nail and then a short rest in between paws and a treat afterwards. Make sure you use a trimmer with a safety that protects from cutting too low. If you look closely you can also see the core, cut just above that point. If you slip and make the nail bleed apply styptic powder or you can hold her nail to a wet tea bag. Now comes a treat and cuddling for your Chihuahua!

Dental Care

You Chihuahua’s incisors teeth should have a snug fit in front of the bottom incisors for a perfect bite. Small dogs can encounter overcrowding of teeth, which can displace teeth and hurt their palate. Chi puppies will start to lose their puppy teeth between four and seven months and show new permanent teeth. If you notice that their baby teeth especially the fangs are not shed when the permanent teeth are fully grown in, share this with your vet, as this will cause misalignment of their permanent teeth.  Your vet may want to remove them as soon as they are interfering with the permanent teeth.  As a Chihuahua’s teeth are so small, this is yet another reason to have a vet that is very familiar with Chihuahuas and their anatomy. Not to scare you, but you don’t want your vet removing the permanent teeth by accident, which has happened.

Chihuahua’s have a high rate of dental disease, so it’s highly suggested to start your pup early on dental cleanings and brush their teeth daily in between cleanings. You can use a soft toothbrush and they will love the peanut butter or meat flavor pet toothpaste. They will tolerate the brushing and some Chi’s will enjoy it. Make it a daily habit and your Chi come to expect it. Otherwise plaque will develop which will lead to tartar, gingivitis, gum recession and ultimately tooth loss.

If you Chi will  not allow to brush their teeth, you can still get professional cleanings and give your pup bones that are made to get rid of tartar, give them crunchy foods as well and you can add  a solution to their water that dissolves plaque. Speak to vet about these products. These options are not perfect, but they will help. If you are concerned about anesthesia for your pup during the cleaning, your veterinarian can use a lighter dose and some vets depending in your Chi’s temperament can do a light cleaning without anesthesia. 

Chihuahua Dog Care

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