PUPPY CARE INSTRUCTIONS
Here are some instructions we give to those who adopt our puppies. If you purchase a puppy from us, you will get these in your puppy packet at pickup along with being emailed a copy when you place a deposit on a puppy.
Your puppy is now eating dry puppy food. The food we feed them is Purina Pro Plan Lamb & Rice Puppy Food. If you decide to change your puppy’s food, do so slowly. You will be given a small bag of the current food today and add a little bit of the new food in with the old and add more each day. This will prevent upset tummies. Please keep food and water available for your puppy 24/7 until he/she is at least 6 months old as Chihuahua puppies are prone to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It is important to keep food in their little tummies to keep their blood sugar up.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
We recommend having on hand a high calorie supplement such as Nutri-Cal or Fortical if your puppy should suffer from low blood sugar. Karo Syrup or honey can be used if these are not available. The important thing is to make sure your puppy is eating. If he/she doesn’t seem to be eating the dry food, it is ok to feed a small amount of canned food (at least a tablespoon) mixed in with the dry food once or twice a day. For more information and the symptoms of hypoglycemia, I have included a separate sheet entitled: Hypoglycemia in Chihuahuas.
Historically, the Chihuahua developed in Mexico and the United States has displayed a “soft spot” on the top of the head. In the Chihuahua this spot, or fontanel, is known as a MOLERA; and is the same as that found in human babies. In the past, this molera was accepted as a mark of purity in the breed, and it is still mentioned in most Chihuahua breed standards the world over. It is important to note that while many Chihuahua puppies are born without the molera, there are probably just as many born with one and its presence is nothing to become alarmed over. Unfortunately, many lay people and some veterinarians not familiar with the Chihuahua have tried to link the mere presence of a molera with the condition known as hydrocephalus. This has caused many newcomers to the breed serious concern and undue worry. The truth is that a domed head with a molera present does not predispose the Chihuahua to this condition. For more information, see the Molera Statement at the Chihuahua Club of America’s website: https://chihuahuaclubofamerica.org/chihuahua-breed-standard/molera-statement/
Litter box training
All our puppies have been started on potty training to the litter box. We have found this method works well for us because of how puppies love to tear up the disposable puppy pads. We start them out on hospital pads when they first start to leave the whelping box and then after a week or so, we put the litter box on top of the pad where they have learned to go. Most of them just naturally transition to using the litter box. Then after a week or so, when it seems like they are only using the litter box, we just take the pad away and just leave the box. The main downside of the litter box is sometimes they like to pull a few of the litter pellets out and play with them so we try to have toys, etc. to distract them from doing this. The litter is made of newspaper so if they pull it out and chew on it isn’t great, but it really won’t hurt them. We recommend the So Phresh Dog Litter Box
from Petco. (https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/so-phresh-dog-litter-box) As far as litter, there are two brands, the So Phresh Dog Litter from Petco or Second Nature Dog Litter by Purina. Either one will work fine. However, if you decide to use puppy pads, most puppies transition back to them quickly since they started out with them. We wait nearly 3 months before we transition our puppies to go potty outside since we live in a rural setting and our yard is chain link where little puppies could escape. The nice thing about the litter box is our adult dogs will still use it, if for instance we need to be gone from home for long periods of time. So it is nice to have it as backup even after they are trained to go outdoors.
Some Thoughts on Vaccinations, Spaying and Neutering
These are the protocols we recommend and follow for our Chihuahuas as far as vaccines and spaying/neutering. These vary from what most veterinarians recommend. However, these are our suggestions only and you need to consult with your vet and do what is in the best interest of your Chihuahua.
Vaccines: We follow a protocol for minimal vaccine use. We have done some research and feel that because of the small size of Chihuahuas that they benefit from a more spread out schedule of vaccines than is normally recommended. Their small size can make them more susceptible to reactions and spreading the vaccines out can help reduce this risk. Here is the schedule we follow:
7.5-9 weeks: Distemper + Parvo, MLV (Merck Nobivac Puppy DPV)
12-13 weeks: Distemper + Parvo, MLV (Merck Nobivac Puppy DPV)
16-20 weeks: Distemper + Parvo, MLV (Merck Nobivac Puppy DPV)
I urge all puppy owners to never let your puppy’s feet touch strange ground until he/she has had all three of their puppy shots. One of the most dangerous places is your vet’s office- do not let your puppy on the floor there. Also, no visits to parks or pet stores until fully vaccinated.
24 weeks or older, if allowable by law: Rabies (mercury-free if possible) NOTE: Give 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines.
1 year: Rabies (3-year product if allowed by law- mercury free if possible). NOTE: Give 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines.
1 year: Distemper + Parvo, MLV (Merck Nobivac Puppy DPV)
Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every 3 years thereafter or more often if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law.
The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) in 2017 started recommending for the core vaccinations a booster at a year old and then boosters every 3 years after so if your veterinarian is still recommending yearly vaccinations after the first year you might print this out and discuss it with her/him.
Here are some articles with more information about the minimal vaccine protocols. Do your own research and then work together with your veterinarian on a vaccination schedule that is best for your puppy.
Spaying/neutering: We recommend that you wait until somewhere near 6 months old for males to neuter and between six months and a year old for females to spay. The main reason we say to neuter the males earlier is that you want to neuter him before he starts wanting to mark (lift his leg to urinate) on things. Once they start, it is a hard habit to break. For the females, if you can wait until their adult teeth start to come in, you can see if they are retaining any baby teeth. Chihuahuas are prone to retaining baby teeth and these retained teeth usually require a veterinarian putting them under anesthesia to remove them. If you wait to spay until the age where you will know if they have retained baby teeth or not, if a tooth needs to be removed, it could be done at the same time as the spay and the dog is only put under one time. Small dogs are more susceptible to having issues with anesthesia, so it is better to put them under as few times as possible.
Once again, these are just our suggestions and you need to consult with your veterinarian as far as timing on spaying or neutering.
Hypoglycemia in Chihuahuas
Hypoglycemia is one the main concerns of new Chihuahua puppy owners, since the young dog’s body is very fragile during his first few months. This disorder is not limited to a specific genetic defect, but it is associated with the breed’s small size. Chihuahuas are native to hot climates, so their body stores a limited number of fat cells. This helps them stay cool in extreme heat, but it also means their batteries won’t keep them operational for very long. When fat cells run out, your dog’s body will start pulling sugar directly from his bloodstream, causing all sorts of health problems. Hypoglycemia is a common and serious health concern for young Chihuahuas, but owners of adult dogs should also be on the lookout for warning signs, especially those under 4 lbs.
Young Chihuahuas can display the common symptoms of hypoglycemia for simple reasons. Missing meals, even just a few a week, or exercising too much can be enough to deplete your dog’s biochemical resources. Chihuahuas are more vulnerable to hypoglycemia when they are between 6 to 10 weeks old due to the stress of being weaned from their mother’s milk to dog food, before they have built up a functional padding of fat cells. The stress of moving to a new home or meeting new people or pets is enough to suppress a small dog’s appetite, which can lead to hypoglycemic conditions very quickly.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia emerge progressively, depending on your dog’s current blood sugar levels. The nature and magnitude of symptoms depends directly on the severity of the condition. It is very important to keep your eyes on young Chihuahuas until they are at least six months old. Look for some of the initial indicators of hypoglycemia, including lethargy, nervousness and shivering, for the first few months after you bring a new puppy home. If your dog’s blood sugar levels drop, he will lose control over his body and may display visible muscle spasms or dizziness. These symptoms can be scary, especially in very young dogs, but the condition is very treatable if you get your dog to the vet right away.
Mild hypoglycemia can turn into a life-threatening problem for Chihuahuas in a matter of hours. Mixing a few drops of corn syrup into their food can help balance their blood sugar levels temporarily. During the late stages of hypoglycemia, it is not uncommon for your dog to act erratically or lapse into a coma. Wash your hands and put a few drops of corn syrup or a high calorie supplement on your fingers. Rub them along your dog’s gums and tongue to get some sugar into his bloodstream. If he starts to have convulsions, seizures or loses consciousness, then you need to get him a vet ASAP.
Flea & tick prevention: We don't recommend Bravecto, Nexgard, Simparica, Credelio- these have been found to cause neurological issues in dogs and they seem to affect the smaller ones more. We were contacted by the owner of one of our past puppies whose dog was experiencing severe neurological issues that their vet couldn't explain. These symptoms started shortly after the monthly application of Simparica. The owners did some research themselves and discovered that these medications were affecting other dogs in similar ways. After detoxing, we are glad to report that the dog is much improved. All four of these contain similar ingredients and have reported similar problems. What we recommend is Frontline spray. It is dosed in sprays per pound so that way your puppy is getting the dose needed for its size, not a bigger dog. Chihuahuas because of their small size are sensitive to being overloaded with these types of medications so less is better.
Coccidia are small protozoans (one-celled organisms) that live in the intestinal tracts of dogs. The diseases caused by an overgrowth of these microscopic protozoal parasites are referred to collectively as Coccidiosis.
*Almost every puppy is exposed to the coccidia parasite and then carry the protozoa in their digestive systems. Many puppies are never physically affected by these protozoa.*
If your veterinarian finds coccidia in the fecal sample of your puppy, it does NOT mean they have coccidiosis. If the puppy exhibits symptoms such as diarrhea w/ mucus and blood, poor appetite, and vomiting, an overgrowth of the coccidia may have occurred and the puppy has coccidiosis, and they need to see a vet ASAP. However, many veterinarians will choose to treat a puppy for coccidiosis if coccidia is found in a stool sample, which is fine but, in these cases, it still does NOT mean the puppy has coccidiosis.
Stress (such as when a puppy leaves its littermates for a new home) can cause the coccidia to flourish by multiplying rapidly, and this can lead to coccidiosis. The highest incidence of Coccidiosis is in the first 21 days after a dog has changed owners and moved to a new residence.
Sanitation is the single most important prevention of Coccidiosis. Clean up and dispose of feces as soon as possible, disinfect runs, cages, and food bowls every day to destroy infective organisms.
Diarrhea in puppies:
If your puppy has liquid/water consistency to stools, and not solid or pudding type stools, it is time to contact a vet. Liquid stools are a sign of severe diarrhea and could lead very quickly to dehydration. Dehydration can lead to death. So, mostly liquid stools are not to be taken lightly. See/contact a vet ASAP if this is the case.
But for "soft" stools, there "usually" is not a danger to the puppy requiring a vet trip. If you had soft stools, would you go to the doctor? If a puppy has "soft" stools, with a consistency like pudding, as long as the puppy is drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, the concern is much, much less.
Remember, I am not a vet and do not recommend anything. These are just things we have tried or heard of. These ideas might not fix the problem if the cause is a protozoa, but they can help control diarrhea in general:
Plain or vanilla yogurt (with cultures). Can mix with a little cottage cheese.
Bland diet: rice flavored by boiled chicken for two days (bland foods).
Probiotic chew or powder for dogs
Page last updated 8/13/23