Although tiny, the Chihuahua is a pretty robust little dog and one that suffers from few health issues unlike other small breeds. However, they are known to suffer from dental problems. Tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss can make a Chihuahua life uncomfortable and might even lead to them developing heart disease. So why are Chihuahuas so prone to developing dental problems?
The answer is because these little dogs have such small mouths and as a result this often means their teeth don't have enough space to grow as they should and the result is they become impacted. With this said, not all Chihuahas will develop dental issues, but this does not mean you shouldn't keep an eye on your pet's mouth and to have them regularly checked over by a vet to make sure things are okay.
There are things you can do to reduce the chances of your pet developing dental isssues which also ensures better oral health for them from a young age right through to their golden years. Studies have shown that things typically start when Chihuahuas are around 4 years old. The first signs of there being a problem is when a dog has bad breath, but the thing to bear in mind is that any sort of dental issue no matter how small it may be is a progressive condition which in short, means it will only get worse if left untreated. The pain and discomfort may even prevent your Chihuahua from eating normally too.
If you are planning to get a Chihuahua puppy, it's important they be taught that having their teeth brushed in not something to be scared of. Keeping your pet's teeth clean and free of any tartar is the best way to stay on top of things and to prevent any tiny bits of food getting lodged in between them. Even a minuscule bit of food when it remains lodged in your dog's teeth can turn into something painfully serious which includes conditions like gingivitis, decay and eventual tooth loss.
It's also important to invest in the right dog-specific toothpaste and tooth brush to suit their small size which you can either source online from a reputable manufacturer or from one of the larger pet stores. You can buy special dog tooth brushes that fit over one finger like a glove. This design often makes it a lot easier to use on puppies because it is less frightening than a toothbrush when you first start teaching them that cleaning their teeth is not something they need to get stressed out about. You can even find different flavours of dog-specific toothpaste which includes things like chicken, salmon, malt and beef which most dogs like.
The whole experience of having teeth brushed has to be one that your Chihuahua enjoys so things have to happen calmly from the word go. The great thing about using a flavoured dog-specific toothpaste is that your pet would more than likely be very willing to have you put some in their mouths. However, you still need to be very careful and extremely gentle to avoid hurting your dog which could result in you being bitten. It's best to sit down with your dog on your lap and to take things slowly to begin with because some Chihuahuas are quite nervous and sensitive around their mouths. It's important to talk to your pet calmly and to reassure your dog that everything is alright.
If you find they are reluctant to open their mouths, put a little of the flavoured toothpaste on your finger and put this gently at the front of their mouths where they can smell it. This should encourage them to lick your finger which would allow you to then hold their mouths gently open using your other hand. It's a good idea to inspect your pet's gums and their teeth before you start brushing them and if all looks good, you can very gently start cleaning their teeth. It's best to just do the larger canines to begin with until your dog get's used to the process and once they are, you can then place more focus on cleaning their smaller teeth too.
Dogs love being rewarded when they've been good, so it's essential to calmly reward your Chihuahua once you've finished brushing their teeth. Praising them will reinforce the fact that having their teeth cleaned is a good experience and not one they need to be frightened of.
There are other things you can do that will help keep your Chihuahua's teeth in good condition which includes making sure they are being fed the right sort of diet to suit their ages and to always buy good quality dog food that's made by well-known pet food manufacturers. It's also important they be given some dry food as well as tinned food which will go a long way in helping to keep tartar build-up to a minimum.
Dog chews and dental sticks are also good for the same reason, although you should never rely on just these to keep your dog's teeth in good condition. Treats should be kept to a minimum and you should avoid offering your little Chihuahua any "human" food which contains too much sugar, salt and other things that dogs find hard to digest and which could end up damaging their teeth and causing all sorts of other health issues.