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New Years

The Chihuahua New Year's Resolution Challenge

chihuahua-new-year

The new year offers a fresh start...

... and is the perfect time to reassess your Chihuahua's care. After all, even the most conscientious owners can always find areas to improve. Having a canine family member involves all sort of elements that, once they all come together, combine for optimal health and happiness. 

Maybe you've been a bit behind in one area simply due to a time crunch. Or perhaps you've skipped over a few things in the last year because you kept telling yourself "Next year'. Well, this is the perfect time to start implementing some of the care items you know you should be doing... 

So, choose a New Year's resolution to do
for your Chihuahua...

And make this the healthiest, safest, happiest
year ever

Here are 7 New Year's resolutions that will help your Chihuahua be healthier, happier, more comfortable, and safer than ever. You'll see why each is important and exactly how to reach your goal. Ideally, you will want to be following all of these; however, even if you make a change in regard to just one, this will greatly benefit your Chihuahua puppy or dog.

#1: I pledge to take my Chihuahua
for a walk every single day

Why this is important: Even if a Chi tends to move around a lot inside, this does not offer what a purposeful, brisk walk outside offers. And every day that exercise is skipped is detrimental to a dog's overall health. Exercise has many benefits:

Some are physical: It keeps the heart healthy, helps a dog maintain muscle mass, and done over the course of months and years, helps prevent a host of health conditions including but not limited to cancer and canine diabetes. It certainly plays a role in helping a dog to live a long life. 

And some benefits are for emotional well-being: The main element is that a Chihuahua has a certain amount of energy.This can be expended in a good way (brisk walks outdoors or focused cardio play) or it can become pent-up and eventually released in a negative way (barking, acting hyper, agitation, destructive chewing, etc.).

Why this may have been skipped last year: Some Chihuahuas may appear to 'self exercise' by being quite active indoors. At other times, and especially in the winter, owners may feel that it's too cold to head out with their Chi. And in some cases, as long as a Chihuahua has a walk a few times a week, owners may feel that this is enough. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Make a commitment to taking your Chihuahua out twice per day. Each session should last for at least 20 minutes. One of the biggest hurdles is the weather. So, prepare and don't let this stop you. 
There's two main things that will help keep your Chi warm when it's brutally cold:

1. Properly sized outerwear. Keeping the core body warm is key and a vest like the Kuoser Cozy Waterproof Windproof Vest is a great choice for many Chihuahuas. the extra-small fits dogs as tiny as 4 lbs, it is water resistant, is layered for warmth, and is super-easy to put on with a Velcro adjustable closure across the tummy. 
2. Paw wax can help in a number of ways. It protects a dog's paws from surface temperatures (frozen in the winter, hot in the summer), helps prevent snowballing (when snows between the toes melts, re-freezes into ice, and stretches a dog's skin), works to repel irritants like ice melt chemicals in the winter or lawn chemicals in the summer, and keeps the paws healthy. Our favorite paw wax is Musher's Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax; this absorbs pretty fast, is breathable, and you only need to apply it about every 2 weeks. 

#2: I pledge to always protect
my Chihuahua from neck injury

Why this is important: Everything on a toy sized dog is more fragile. Larger dogs with thick muscle around the neck are able to be on leash and collar without an issue. Not always so with the Chihuahua.

This breed has very little muscle volume around the neck. In particular, the sternothyroid and mylohyoid muscles which are essentially the only protection for the front of the trachea and even the sternomastoid muscles and others that come down along the sides are not always able to handle sudden tension or chronic stress.

What can happen due to a collar: When on leash, all pressure, tension and stress is placed directly, and only, onto the Chihuahua's neck. One of two things can happen:

1. Sudden acute injury. The trachea is surrounded by rings of cartilage. If the ring(s) are already in a weakened state (a genetic disorder that this breed is prone to) or too much pressure is forced onto one area, they can collapse inward. This is known as collapsed trachea and needless to say, it is extremely painful, causing breathing issues, swelling, and more.

2. Injury due to chronic pressure. Days, weeks, months and years of tension being place on that one area of the neck can wear the area to the point that it can no longer support the stress. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Make a switch from collar to harness. A harness displaces pressure along the shoulders, chest and back which have much larger, stronger muscles (trapezius, supraspinatus, sternocephalicus and deltoids). The neck is free from all possible stress.
There are some fantastic harnesses that are super easy to place on, are adjustable for a perfect fit and are made with comfort in mind. One is the Authentic Puppia Dog Harness; the extra-small fits dogs with a neck measurement of 7.5" which is typically small enough for Chihuahua puppies. If you don't have a measuring tape, consider that if you take a standard letter-size piece of paper that's 8.5x11", if you curl the smaller end up into a circle, that is the size of a 8.5 inch girth. This harness has an adjustable chest, a quick-release snap, and comes in 12 colors. 
Another great choice is the Puppia Harness Soft B Vest. This has a bit more structure and is a good choice for the wintertime. It starts at size extra-small (for Chi puppies) with a neck girth of 7 and 3/4 inches. This is made with comfort in mind; it has a back easy-snap that is part of the o-ring assemblage (where the leash attaches). This one comes in 13 colors to choose from.  
Once you have a harness for your Chi, you can rest easy knowing that you're protecting your dog from neck injury. And, you'll find that walking your Chihuahua is much easier, since this gives you better control. You can even quickly pull your Chihuahua to you (to draw him from danger, etc.) without having to worry.  

#3: I pledge to always protect
my Chihuahua when in my car

Why this is important: How many car accidents do you think happen each day in the US? 1000? 10,000? The number might shock you: it is estimated to be over 17,000. Per DAY. You might be a fantastic, safe driver. But you have zero control over other drivers or how your car will react to weather and road conditions. 

Now, you might think that just a little fender bender might not be so bad if your Chi is on your lap or free in the car. However, in a car going 25 MPH, a Chihuahua weighing 5 pounds will be thrown with the force of a 125-pound object. Going at 35? He'll be thrown with the force of a 175-pound object.

Let's look at what happens with a larger Chihuahua (it's not any better). For an 8-pound Chi, a 25 MPH crash sends him flying with the force of a 200-pound object and at 35 MPH it's 280 lbs.

On the highway, going 60 MPH, a 5-pound dog would be sent crashing into the interior of the car with a force of a 300-pound object and for an 8-pound dog the crash force is 520 pounds. 

So, needless to say that if your Chihuahua has not been riding in a proper canine car seat, making this be your New Year's resolution can save your dog's life. 

Your Chihuahua deserves to be
buckled up, in the same way
as a child does

In addition, the right car seat can greatly improve issues of motion sickness and restlessness that can happen when a dog does not have proper positioning. It helps keep the body from swaying and allows a dog to see out of the windows, both of which helps. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: If you have bucket seats, a booster seat like the Kurgo Skybox Dog Booster Seat is ideal. This sits up nice and high, and is sturdy with straps that fasten it to your car's seat. It has an inner buckle that is meant to be connected to a dog's harness (not a collar; that would be dangerous). 
If you have bench seats in your car, the K&H Pet Products Bucket Booster Seat is a great choice. This is secured in with the car's seat belt. It also sits up pretty high, giving a small Chihuahua a great line-of-sight out of the windows. This also has the inner buckle. 
Please keep in mind that the safest place for the seat is in the middle of the back seat. If you choose to place this on your front passenger seat, please shut off any automatic passenger air bags and move the seat as far back as it can go. 

#4: I pledge take all steps possible
to ease the despair of my Chihuahua
being home alone

Why this is important: Many dogs suffer extreme stress when home alone. This goes far beyond just missing their humans. This condition, called separation anxiety, brings about overwhelming fear and panicked feelings of isolation.

This not only affects a Chihuahua during the experience, but can have lasting effects as well. Many dogs cannot instantly make a switch from being burdened with loneliness to feeling perfectly fine. Depression or clingy behavior when owners are home is commonly seen. 

In addition, the stress and guilt that owners can feel is also an important aspect that needs to be resolved. You are hardworking and busy; you deserve to be relieved of the added worry of wondering if your Chihuahua is coping well. 

Why this has been so hard: If your Chihuahua has been having trouble, undoubtedly have you been looking for answers. The reason why so many owners have not yet found the solution is because they only employ a few of the possible fixes and/or were not aware of what sort of methods actually work. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Our Chihuahua care book goes into this in much more detail, a full chapter. This includes desensitization training for this. 

However, the basics are this:
1. Have your Chihuahua in a dedicated spot. A portable indoor canine playpen or small gated off area is best. Dogs that are able to roam the house fare much worse, not to mention this enables them to have housebreaking accidents and/or express destructive chewing. A playpen also keeps all of your dog's aids (more ahead) right near by. 

If you are looking for a playpen, the IRIS 4-Panel Pet Playpen is excellent. This is 24" high (but you can choose one that is 34" high) and is 8 square feet (or 21 square feet for the larger one). If you choose the smaller 8 square foot playpen, you can always add on extra panels later, to offer more room. This pen is also awesome because it has a door; when you're home you can leave it open so your Chi can go into this 'den' as they wish. 
2. Within that area have: 

• Toys that engage a dog (speaking, making noise). When a dog is home alone, it can really help if there's toys that make a dog feel that they are actually interacting. A neat toy that does this is the Pet Qwerks Talking Babble Ball Toy. When a dog noses it, it speaks one of 20 sayings. And, when it's not being used, it shuts off (to save on batteries). Since it's a ball, it rolls, of course. But, if your Chihuahua is in a playpen, it can't roll away! 
• A treat-release toy. Along the same lines of keeping a dog busy, this sort of toy is great since it serves 2 purposes. It keeps a dog focused on it and also ensures that your Chihuahua is eating while you're gone for the day. 

The trick here is to find one that is small enough but the Busy Buddy Barnacle Toy is just perfect for Chihuahua under 10 lbs. This has 3 small bobbles that hold kibble. Though, you can mix kibble with 100% all-natural smooth peanut butter or even a dash of fish oil to make it extra tempting. 
• A quality bed. A dog needs to be able to cuddle up for naps while home alone, and resting on the floor does not offer the right type of support. It's also not a warm place either. Since it's quite common for Chihuahuas to get chilled easily, a bed like the K&H Self-Warming Lounge Bed is ideal for this breed. 
• Looping music or pleasant sounds. You don't want the house to be dead-quite. So, be sure to have nice music or sounds playing. There's several options for this. You can stream easy-listening music or set your TV to a channel that will provide relaxing music (some cable providers offer channels just for dogs). 
• Offer a companion toy. If your dog really struggles with separation anxiety, you may have considered getting a second dog for company. But, if you're not ready to make that sort of commitment (and it doesn't always help because both dogs can end up having trouble), you may want to get the next best thing, which is a toy that mimics a living dog.
The Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy is a good-sized, sturdy stuffed animal that emits a rhythmic heartbeat and comforting warmth. It's really amazing and has helped so many dogs feel as if they have a friend and are not alone. 

#5: I pledge to take care
of my Chihuahua's teeth
to prevent pain and tooth loss

Why this is important: Every moment, awake or sleeping, plaque is being produced in a dog's mouth. If it is not routinely removed, it accumulates, building up layer after layer. It not only can encase the teeth, but also travel under the gum line. Within 3 days, any plaque on your Chihuahua's teeth starts to harden into tartar which is much more difficult for the typical owner to remove at home. 

Plaque and tartar destroys teeth. It eats away at the enamel. Once there is decay, infection can set it (and can even travel up to the sinuses and/or cause sepsis which can be fatal). Rotted decaying teeth will loosen and eventually fall out. All of this, needless to say, is not without quite a bit of pain. 

Why this may have been skipped last year: Some owners mistakenly believe that a dental treat is all that is needed. But, that is like baking a cake with flour and nothing else. It is an important part of what needs to be done, but certainly cannot do it all on its own. 

In addition, some owners may have tried to brush their Chihuahua's teeth but the dog resisted (common at first and if the right sized brush and/or unpleasant paste is used). 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Make a commitment to taking proper care of your Chihuahua's teeth. Here is what is needed:

1) If you are not sure of the state of your Chi's teeth, start the year off right by having the vet perform a dental exam. X-rays will diagnose any decay that should be taken care of first and the teeth will be properly cleaned and scraped. 

2) Then, with a fresh slate, stick to a routine, just as you have a routine for your own oral hygiene.
1. Aim to brush your Chi's teeth once per day. Choose the same time each day so that this becomes habit. If you do this twice per day, all the better. 
2. Have the right sized brush and proper paste. Scrubbing the teeth can be a pleasant experience for your Chihuahua if you use a small enough brush and a nice-tasting paste. For a brush, you can go with a standard brush sized for toy breeds or a fingertip brush (that slips over your pointer finger). For the paste, human toothpaste is toxic to dogs and the foaming agents can cause choking. So, opt for a paste made for canines (meant to be swallowed) that has a good flavor. The Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dental Kit offers all 3 of these items in one package. 
3. Give your Chihuahua a quality dental treat, once per day. One to consider is Greenies Grain-Free Teenie Dental Treats, which are sized for dogs starting at 5 lbs. These are the #1 vet recommended treat and are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Please keep in mind that these are very hard treats; they have to be in order to help remove plaque. So, your Chi should always be supervised while chewing on this. 

#6: I pledge to spend
more quality time 
with my Chihuahua

Why this is important: Can a dog survive if he is 'just there'? Given that he has food, water, and shelter, of course. Can he seem okay if he's a spectator of what's happening in the home? Yes. But, for a dog to really thrive, he needs more.

Dogs should be challenged. They should have really fun sessions of time with you. They should be taken to new places, see new things and engage their minds.

Your Chihuahua's world is as small or as big as you allow it to be. And your dog's perception of the world will be seen with as little or as much fun and enthusiasm as you let in. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: Make a commitment set aside a bit of extra time for your dog at least several days a week. Here are some suggestions of things that you may wish to do

1. Teach your Chihuahua a fun new trick that he can show off. He's ready to be a student and you can be a great teacher if you know the right methods. Not sure which trick to start off with? The book 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog will give you lots of options. 
2. Let your Chihuahua run like the wind. Take your dog to a large safe area, and with your Chihuahua on harness and with a 16, 24 or even 50-foot retractable leash, let him run and feel free. Be sure to give a 'Sit' command and then an 'Okay' to show that you are allowing this. 
The Flexi Classic Retractable Dog Leash - 26 feet is a pretty neat lightweight leash for this. 
And, if your Chihuahua needs some encouragement to start running, throw a KONG Wubba and you've just started a super-fun session of healthy cardio for your dog. 
3. Take your Chihuahua somewhere at least once a week.  If it's cold out, make your destination be a store; you may be surprised how many allow pets. Of course, pet supply stores do, but also many Home Depot, Michael's Crafts, Hobby Lobby, Sephora, Bath & Body Works, Macy's, Barnes and Noble, and more. Just call ahead to the one in your area to double-check before heading out. 

If the weather is not so bad, how about an outing to the beach or another shoreline. Or an 'easy hike' trail? Maybe your town has a farm that you can both visit. Or, perhaps the town over has an open-air flea market on Sundays? 
4. Engage your Chihuahua's mind by playing a fun puzzle game. You can start off simple with a few overturned cups and a treat hidden under one of them, and then advance to true puzzle that require you to teach your dog how to nose levers and flip lids.The reward is not just the treat hidden inside once your dog has learned how to solve the puzzle, but also the wonderful bonding that develops with this sort of activity. 
One really neat puzzle game is the Ethical Pets Spot "Seek-a-Treat Flip 'N" Slide. It's sized for all dogs; but, works pretty good with Chihuahuas since it's pretty flat and easy to reach. 

#7: I pledge to never let my
Chihuahua ingest the terrible
toxins that are in unfiltered tap water

Why this is important: Giving a dog water must be the easiest task there is; what can go wrong? Sadly, the answer is a lot. Tap water in the US contains a shocking amount of toxins. 

Just some of the concerns are:

• Chromium-6. This is the carcinogen brought to light in the Erin Brockovich movie, and as of 2017, is in the drinking water of over 200 million Americans. 

• Fluoride. This is exceedingly toxic to dogs (and also proven to be unsafe for humans). This chemical was originally used to kill rats; it can cause tooth disease, bone loss, and deformities, and can lead to kidney disease, hormone problems, and even cognitive damage. Additionally, it is proven to cause osteosarcoma, which is the #1 cause of bone tumors in canines, developing in 8,000+ dogs each year in the US.

• Barium. This is a metal that comes from the erosion of natural deposits in the earth and is also a run-off from metal refineries. This is shown to cause unsafe elevations in blood pressure. 

• Beryllium. This comes from many sources including metal and coal factories and aerospace, defense, and electrical companies. Long-term consumption is linked to intestinal lesions. 

• Chlorite. This is a by-product of water disinfectant. Possible long-term health effects are anemia and central nervous problems. 

We could go on; however, there are close to 100 known chemical agents in unfiltered tap water. 

If you choose this New Year's resolution for your Chihuahua: There's several options to ensure that your puppy or dog drinks safe water. Since Chihuahuas are quite small, you may choose to offer bottled spring water. An adult Chihuahua needs about 1 cup of water per day. So, one gallon (16 cups) will last about 8 days.

Alternatively, there are filtering systems that can be connected to a kitchen sink or even filtering water pitchers that clean out toxins as the water is poured. 
A Final Word - We wish you and your Chihuahua a wonderful new year ahead, with optimal health, safety, comfort, and happiness. Let's make this the best year yet. 

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