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Fur Issues

Chihuahua Fur Issues

Both Short and Long Coat Chihuahuas

There are two types of coats on the Chihuahua breed, the short hair (also known as the smooth coat) and the long haired Chi.

There is no difference between these types of Chihuahuas beside the length of the fur. They will have the same temperament, health issues, feeding requirements, etc.

Fur issues can happen to either type of Chihuahua; however with a long haired Chihuahua it may be more noticeable.
One of the most common fur issues with this breed involves a loss of hair that is not easily explained by normal shedding. This can happen at any age and for a variety of reasons.

Coat Loss with a Chihuahua Puppy

All dogs go through a stage of gradually losing the puppy coat and growing their adult coat. While with some breeds such as the Pomeranian, this process will be extremely noticeable, other breeds like the Chihuahua will have varying degrees of noticeable change.

When does a Chihuahua lose its fur? In general, this process begins around the age of 5 or 6 months old. However, each puppy is different...It can begin as young as 2 months old or as late as 7 months. It will happen over the course of several months. During this time, depending on the Chi, it may present as a heavy shed. 
It is common for there to be a thinning, however if there is severe hair loss that includes any bald spots, this should be brought to the attention of the veterinarian.

You will want to use gentle shampoos and canine conditioners during this time. The skin will be sensitive and not as protected. Soft baby blankets can be used to offer a comfortable padding for a Chihuahua to rest upon.

By the age of 1 year old, give or take a couple of months, a Chihuahua will have his or her adult coat. During this process, there may be a color change. It is not uncommon for the adult coat to be lighter or darker. In addition, sabling may increase or decrease and markings may fade into the coat or grow in more.
Female Chihuahua resting

What is Normal Hair Loss and What is a Sign of Something Serious

There may be times beside the puppy stage when your Chihuahua 's hair is falling out. Healthy males will not have shedding issues that are very noticeable. Females, however, may have heavy sheds due to hormonal changes that take place during heat cycles.
A female Chihuahua will "blow the coat" after giving birth to puppies. It can take up to 6 months for her coat to fully grow back. Stress can also cause this. For both male and female Chihuahuas, anesthetics can cause sometimes severe fur loss.

What Causes Hair Loss - Medical Alert - Bring Your Chihuahua to a Vet

There are many medical diseases and issues that can cause hair loss for a Chihuahua and this is referred to as Alopecia. Medical issues usually involve skin problems that in turn cause hair loss. Skin may appear dry, red, irritated or a rash may be visible.

Some of the reasons for this include:   
  • Hypothyroidism - This is the most common medical issue involving abnormal hair loss with Chihuahua dogs. The fur will thin and fall out easily. It usually affects the sides of the body, the chin to neck area, back of legs and the tail.
  • Cushings disease
  • Mange
  • Dermatitis
  • Allergies
  • Parasite
  • Bacterial skin infection
  • Fleas
For any hair loss problems not explained by normal shedding, puppy to adult change in coat or female hormonal issues, it is recommended to have an experienced and reputable veterinarian work to determine the cause.

Unexplained Fur Loss Treatments

If, and only if, all health related issues are ruled out and the cause for thinning fur cannot be determined, there are steps you can take to help resolve a thinning or balding coat. 

There are 3 remedies that can help bring back a coat. Please keep in mind that the first 2 rarely work on their own. If used, they are most effective when used in conjunction with the third grouping of treatment. 

1.Melatonin. This is safe for dogs (in moderate quantities) and is part of an encompassing plan to prompt fur to grow back in. This can make a dog feel sleepy or drowsy, so you'll want to discuss this with your vet first. Dosing is 1 mg per day for 4 to 8 pound Chihuahuas. Melatonin manufactured for human consumption is often of a higher quality than that made for canines and for this reason, is recommended. 

2. Omega 3, 6, 9. This supplement plays a role in maintaining and restoring healthy skin and coat. 

3. Restorative coat/bath products. The DerMagic line of products works very well if you are willing to put in the effort. You will want to use the rescue lotion twice daily for the 1st week; this is massaged into any thinning or balding spots for at least 5 minutes. Then, starting at week #2 and moving forward until the coat is back to normal, massage once per day. 

Along with this, bath your Chihuahua every two weeks, using both DerMagic shampoo and conditioner. Do not blow dry. Use a towel to blot and allow to air dry. 

You should see improvement after 4 weeks and many Chihuahuas have a full coat after 2 months. If this does indeed work for your Chi, you may need to routinely use these products to keep the fur from falling out again. 

Reader Q&A - Shedding

Q: Do you have any suggestions for controlling the shedding on my short hair Chihuahua? The vet gave me a fat to put in the dog food but it did not help. ~ Owner:Lisa, Chihuahua: Buster.

A: Hi Lisa. If your Chihuahua's veterinarian performed a full evaluation for medical causes such as: allergies, parasites and other and your Chi is still shedding more than normal, there are some things that you can do. If your have been assured that your Chihuahua is healthy, there are 3 elements to take a look at.

1) Your Chihuahua's dog food. A low quality food will not give your Chi enough of the needed vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Therefore, even with the extra fat supplements given by the vet, fur retention and shedding issues can be very affected by low quality food. Be sure to ignore the generic dog food in the supermarket. 
Look to our food section for proper feeding guidelines.
2)  Baths. Some owners, in an attempt to keep their Chihuahua very clean do not realize that too many baths can cause a Chihuahua's skin to dry out. This can then, in turn, cause fur to fall out. Keep baths to once every 3 weeks, unless needed otherwise. 

The other element about baths is that if the correct shampoo is not used, the skin of the Chihuahua can quickly become dry and cause fur loss.

Keep in mind that when a dog's skin is dry, you may not notice. The clearest sign is when a dog scratches, but some will not do this and it will be your job to make sure the skin stays soft and healthy.

It is extremely important to never use human shampoo or a cheap generic brand. Only a gentle canine shampoo should be used.

3)  Grooming. While short haired Chihuahuas may not look as if they need a brushing every day, they do. And for those with long haired Chi's, brushing is important to keep the coat free of tangles. It is suggested to brush your Chi every morning. 

It should be part of a daily routine that is done along with dental care, exercise and other tasks. All Buster needs is a quick 5 minute brush each day to groom through and pick up the loose hair. This also helps to keep the skin healthy by stimulating the natural oils of the skin.  
Related: How to Treat Chihuahua Tear Staining - Due to a wide variety of causes, red or brown discoloration may appear under and/or around the eyes. Choose your removal product wisely; some can cause irritation, others do not work and some have come under FDA scrutiny. 
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