The University of Georgia did an extensive study that traced over 70,000 dogs over a 20 yearlong period to record the leading causes of death. This included over 82 different purebred dogs and in this group there were over 100 Chihuahuas.
The dogs were separated by age, with 2 groups: puppies and adults. Due to this extensive study, we have a very good idea at what this breed is prone to and even a good method of preventing early death.
The Top Leading Cause of Death for Chihuahua Puppies
With Chihuahua dogs under the age of 1 year old, the 2 leading causes of death are:
1) Infection - see below for details
2) Trauma - see below for details
The 3 top causes of death for adult Chihuahuas are:
1) Cardiovascular disease.
of Chihuahuas died due to cardiovascular disease. This is most common in senior dog over the age of 14. Since the heart can only function for a set number of years, dogs that succumb to heart failure are often classified as dying of old age.
This disease can be categorized into 3 different classifications:
The heart is unable to pump blood as it should. This causes a lack of blood and oxygen to circulate as needed through the dog's body.
This is an abnormal rhythm of the heartbeat which - when severe - are life-threatening if due to a decrease in the pumping function of the heart.
Heart valve problems:
This includes stenosis (the heart valves due not open enough to allow blood to flow as it should), regurgitation (the heart valves do not close properly which allows blood to seep though) and valve prolapse (the valve bulges into the upper heart chamber).
A shocking 16.8%
of Chihuahuas died due to trauma. This is a staggering number that all owners should consider very carefully. The 3 main types of fatal trauma were:
- Being accidentally stepped on
It is shocking and important to note that the 2nd leading cause of death for the Chihuahua breed is 100% preventable. Out of the 82 different purebred dogs, the Chihuahua was the 7th breed most likely to die this way. If owners take care to keep their puppy or dog safe, the average life span would increase substantially.
of adult Chihuahua died due to a fatal infection. Type of infection varied quite a bit and included:
Despite there being a vaccine for this, many un-vaccinated dogs succumb to this disease. This attacks the gastrointestinal tract and immune system, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. It is spread via direct contact with an infected dog or via the feces of an infected dog. Proper cleaning methods of the environment of dogs with parvo and keeping up on vaccinations can prevent a Chihuahua from catching this very contagious and often fatal disease.
As with parvo, there is a vaccine for this. Distemper is high contagious infection of the respiratory and/or gastrointestinal tract. It begins with weakness and coughing. As it progresses a dog may develop diarrhea. In later stages, it attacks the dog's central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. The dog may have seizures, paralysis before dying. Keeping your Chihuahua vaccinated - with all puppy shots and boosters through his/her adult life - can prevent this as a cause of death.
There are many strains of leptospirosis (including tick disease) and not all does that catch this die from it. However, it can cause fatal liver and kidney damage. Most strains of fatal strains of leptospirosis are spread via the urine of wild animals. This includes raccoon, skunks and rats. Dogs can catch this when drinking from contaminated water; though it can also spread via sniffing of infection urine puddles.
There are 2 ways to prevent this:
1) By not allowing a dog to go near the urine of wild animals or drink from any water source that an animal many have urinated into.
Vaccination - This is a bit tricky, because in the U.S. this is not included in standard vaccinations
. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) considers leptospirosis vaccine a “non-core”. This means that it is only recommended for dogs that have a high change of exposure. In addition, the breed tends to not react well to this particular inoculation. It is up to owners to discuss this with the veterinarian and decide if there is enough wildlife near the home to warrant having the vaccine.
This refers to septic shock which is a severe infection in the body. Without treatment, it can cause acute kidney failure, liver failure and/or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Even with proper treatment, only roughly 40% of dogs survive.
There are many causes of sepsis, including prostatic infection, pneumonia and bacterial infection of the heart. However, with the Chihuahua breed, the one that owners will want to be concerned about is blood infection. This breed is highly susceptible to tooth decay. When a tooth becomes infected and is not treated, the infection can spread throughout the body, leading to sepsis.
As with many fatal diseases, this one - when due to dental disease - is preventable with proper at-home and professional dental care.