Many owners brush off their Chihuahua's obesity as a non-concerning issue that doesn't pose a real threat. In addition, there are even some people that laugh or poke fun at their weight problem. The fact is, however, that that obesity is just as dangerous to canines as it is to us. It can lead to heart disease, diabetes (yes, Chihuahuas can become diabetic too), premature wearing of the joints, arthritis, and it lowers their overall life expectancy. If you believe your Chihuahua is obese or on the verge of becoming obese, you need to take the necessary action to get them back to a healthy weight.
While the exact number is unknown, some studies suggest that as much as 40% of all pet dogs in the U.S. are overweight. This number is certainly shocking, but what's even more alarming is the fact that over half of their owners didn't even notice a problem. If you want your Chihuahua, or any other type of dog for that matter, to live a long and healthy life, you must keep an eye on their weight and make the necessary adjustments when required.
First and foremost, you must identify IF your Chihuahua actually has a weight problem or if they are just big-boned. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) standards, Chihuahuas should weigh less than 6 pounds. Of course this is just a general rule of thumb to follow and isn't a 100% accurate way of determining if your Chihuahua is overweight. A more practical approach is to take your hands and gently rub them along the sides of your Chihuahua's ribcage. If you're unable to noticeably feel the bones because of excess fat and tissue, then you you they are overweight.
Why Obesity is Dangerous For Chihuahuas
If more owners took their Chihuahuas weight and overall health more seriously, obesity wouldn't be such a problem. Unfortunately, far too many owners either overlook their Chihuahua's weight problem or choose to ignore it. Either way, it opens up a whole new world of numerous health issues that places your Chihuahuas well-being at risk.
Here are some of the main problems associated with obese/overweight Chihuahuas:
- The extra weight places excessive pressure around their joints and bones, which in turn may cause them to develop arthritis at an early age. Obese Chihuahuas are at risk for developing a number of bone and joint problems, all of which can lower their quality of life.
- Significantly increases their risk of developing Type II Diabetes (mellitus) as a result of the body's need for more insulin. In some cases, diabetes may require your Chihuahua to receive daily insulin injections just to keep up with their body's demand; otherwise, it can cause their body to go into shock.
- Back and spinal problems are yet another issue that's commonly associated with obese Chihuahuas. When they put on more weight than their body can handle, it weighs down the sensitive areas on their back. This may cause their spinal discs to slip, bones to fracture or ligaments to tear.
- Obese Chihuahuas are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure (AKA hypertension), and this is just as dangerous to them as it is to us. High blood pressure places a greater strain on all of the organs and tissue inside the body, which increases the chance or organ failure and numerous diseases.
- Arguably the greatest risk that comes from a Chihuahua being overweight is heart disease. The extra fat and tissue inside their body forces the heart to pump extra blood so it can reach the vital organs. Combined with the extra pressure placed on the organs, there's an overall greater risk at developing heart disease.
Stop Feeding Table Food!
If you were on a fly on the wall at house with an overweight Chihuahua, you would probably see their owners frequently feeding them table food. Whether it's straight from the dinner table or just eating a snack in the living room, Chihuahuas are oftentimes fed leftovers that owners don't want to throw away. After all, it's nearly impossible to deny them with those sad begging eyes looking patiently up at you. However, the problem in doing so is that it leads to obesity much faster than eating dog food alone.
It may only be a piece of chicken here or a burger scrap there, but those little pieces can slowly add up and take a toll on your Chihuahua's health. You have to remember that a Chihuahua's digestive system isn't meant to process most of the food we eat. In fact, the only table food that's acceptable to feed them is boneless, skinless chicken breast, and even that should be given as an "occasional" treat.
In addition to their bodies not being able to process it properly, feeding a Chihuahua table food can also be quite dangerous. We talk a little bit about common foods that are dangerous to Chihuahuas here, and some of the ones on the list may shock you. While most owners are aware of the threat chocolate poses, things like garlic, grapes and onions can be equally as deadly. Check out the link previously mentioned for a list of some of the most common table foods that pose a danger to a Chihuahua's health.
Increase Their Activity Levels
It should come as no surprise that exercise and increasing your Chihuahua's overall activity levels can help them lose weight. Because of their small size, many owners overlook or simply underestimate the exercise needs of their Chihuahuas. They assume that keeping them locked up in a small house or apartment only to take them outside to use the bathroom is acceptable when it's not. Like all dogs, Chihuahuas need plenty of time each day to run around and play. If you don't give it to them, their muscles will shrink, bones will become weaker, and they will naturally gain more weight.
Overheating and over-exhaustion is something that you need to be aware of when allowing an obese Chihuahua to exercise. If they are overweight and their bodies aren't used to the proper exercise, they may run themselves tired. Keep exercise sessions short at first and then gradually increase the amount of time you allow them to stay outside. And as always, never leave your Chihuahua to play outside unattended, as there are simply too many potential dangers that can harm them.