Chihuahuas are known for having relatively few health problems compared to other dog breeds. Like most small dogs, though, Chihuahuas tend to have oral problems that can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and even stroke.
By following a simple and easy at-home dental cleaning program, many potential issues can be avoided. This type of grooming care should begin as early as possible during the puppy phase; though it is never too late to begin offering good oral hygiene.
What You Should Know About The Teething Stage
Born without teeth, temporary “milk” teeth will grow in starting at the approximate age of 5 to 6 weeks. Once all have erupted, there will be 28 deciduous puppy teeth.
At about the age of 4 to 5 months, a Chihuahua puppy will begin teething. Permanent, adult canine teeth begin to grow in during this teething phase. Puppies generally lose their teeth in a certain order:
1) First the smaller front teeth come out
2) Then the premolars
3) Molars are next
4) Finally the large canine teeth come out
Often, a puppy’s milk tooth will fall out while eating or playing. Since a pup’s tooth is very small, it is often swallowed before an owner notices that it has fallen out. Sometimes there will be a small amount of blood, but usually this is not noticed as well as the pup quickly swallows it as well.
When the teething process is complete, the Chihuahua will then have 42 permanent teeth.
It is not uncommon for a Chihuahua to have double teeth. This happens when a milk tooth stays in place while the adult canine is erupted. With the milk tooth blocking its normal path, the adult canine will emerge just behind the smaller one. Since this was not the natural path, it it often crooked or slanted off to one side.
This can often be avoided by examining the mouth on a regular basis. If spotted early enough, the very small milk tooth can easily be removed by an experienced veterinarian. Once it has been extracted, the larger adult tooth will generally move back into its proper place as it continues to emerge.
Why Chi’s Teeth Need Extra Care
One of the reasons for this is simply due to their small mouths, which generally force teeth to become impacted as they grow in. While some Chihuahuas may live long and happy lives without experiencing dental problems, most will have at least some oral issues arise. Thankfully there are certain things we can do as owners to help maintain good oral health for our Chihuahuas.
Here are some easy steps that you can take to help keep your Chi’s teeth strong and healthy:
1) Begin at-home brushing as early as possible. Use a quality canine toothbrush and quality canine toothpaste. A puppy will need to have his teeth brushed even though they will be replaced during the teething phase. Without proper cleaning, infection can travel from a milk tooth to a recessed adult tooth that has yet to emerge. In addition, brushing keeps the gums strong and healthy, and the gums are the foundation for a strong set of teeth.
2) Use quality dental chews as a supplemental method of cleaning the teeth. They do work to a certain degree to loosen plaque and freshen breath. The right chews are an important part of good oral hygiene.
How To Clean The Teeth
Brushing your Chihuahua’s teeth is the single most important thing you can do for their oral health. There are toothbrushes and toothpaste designed specifically for dogs. The toothbrushes come in different sizes. Some of them are even sleeve-like pieces that fit over your finger with stubbles on one side. Canine toothpaste is made with delicate ingredients that are completely safe for small dogs. They come in a variety of flavors so your Chihuahua will likely enjoy getting their teeth brushes. You can find canine toothpaste available in liver, beef, chicken, salmon and malt flavors.
Here are some tips for successful, easy cleaning:
1) Choose a certain time of the day for this. In this way, it will become habit for both you and your Chi.
2) Hold your chihuahua tight, as those that are not used to having their teeth touched will tend to try and scoot away. It can help to have someone assist you.
3) If you relax, your Chi will relax. Speak in a matter-of-fact tone and do not be shy to manipulate the mouth. Puppies that have their mouths opened and teeth touched will be adults that are tolerant to this sort of grooming element.
4) Once all teeth are cleaned (that will take about 2 minutes), give praise even if your Chihuahua struggled and tried to escape the whole time. A dental chew can be a good reward treat when the task is complete.
Remember that with time, your Chihuahua will react to tooth brushing as a normal part of his day.
Other Ways To Improve Your Chi’s Oral Health
Rawhides and tough chew toys are also helpful in removing built-up plaque and tartar. Chihuahuas love playing with toys, so why not give them a toy that’s going to help clean their teeth? A rawhide chew helps remove some of the food particles and tartar on their teeth.
Here are some tips on choosing the right dental chews:
1) Avoid products that contain artificial colors, flavors or byproducts since the Chihuahua breed is known for having a high sensitivities to these sorts of man-made chemicals and by-products are low quality ingredients for a dog to ingest.
2) Look for brands that contain wholesome, natural ingredients such as dill, mint and parsley which work in combination to not only clean teeth, but to rid a dog of bad breath.