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How to Help Your Chihuahua Live 18 Years

May 10, 2010
Stately old chihuahua with tan face and grey around his neck ruff

Is there a treat involved in this office visit?

We Want Our Chihuahuas to Live Forever!

Chihuahuas are not only lap dogs and purse ninjas, they are confidantes and best friends. We want them to stick around a long time.

Chihuahuas Live Longer Than Big Dogs

Usually, a small dog like a Chihuahua will have an expected lifespan of 12-14 years. The oldest Chihuahua Doc Truli has treated was 20 years old when he passed away from heart disease.

2 Best Things to do to Extend Your Chihuahua’s Life

You can do two specific things to help your Chihuahua live a long, healthy life:

You want to keep your chihuahua thin and brush the teeth once a day to extend that lifespan to 14-18 years!

Keep Your Chihuahua Thin!

Brush Your Chihuahua’s Teeth Every Day!

Keep Your Chihuahua Thin

If your Chi stays on the thin side, research shows he or she will live two to four years longer than expected and old age diseases like arthritis will wait two to four years before they become an issue.

How to Judge If Your Chihuahua is the Right Weight

You can’t go by breed charts or breed standards in books.

You want to look at and feel for three things:

First: RIBS

Place your open hands on either side of your chi’s chest at the same time. Can you feel ribs? If no, your chi is fat. If yes, but you cannot see them during a bath, that’s a good weight. If you can feel and see ribs, your chi is probably too skinny.

Second: PEANUT

Look at the “peanut view” of your chihuahua. Look down at your chihuahua’s back. Does your chi’s waist go in just in front of the hips? Like an hour-glass shape? Then your chi will live longer. If there is no waistline, your chi is fat.


Look at your chihuahua from the side. Does the tummy tuck up under the hips? It should. If the belly just looks straight across, or bulges out and down, your chihuahua will not live as long as he or she should.

“Each extra pound of fat is one mile (2.2 km) of extra blood vessels for the heart to pump blood through,” says Doc Truli.

Brush Chihuahua Teeth Daily

Daily tooth brushing adds 2-4 years of healthy life to the chihuahua expected lifespan!

Chihuahuas are one of the top ten breeds predisposed to periodontal disease. To prevent progressive periodontal disease, every day, at the same time, brush those choppers!

See How to Get Your Chihuahua to Behave

Here’s a link to a fabulous training video showing a chihuahua learning to relax for nail trimming. It works just as well for tooth brushing, or other maintenance.

Read Secrets and Tips: How to Brush Your Chihuahua’s Teeth

Check out VirtuaVet’s How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth for specific instructions.

Of you’re already behind on the toothbrushing (Chihuahua is over 6 months old), be sure there is not already dental calculus and tartar before you begin brushing. Your chihuahua may experience pain if there is dental disease and you brush. That pain would cause a bad memory.

Warning: If your little Chihuahua already has tartar, or you are unsure, see your veterinarian for help and a deep dental cleaning under careful chihuahua anesthesia.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. Gretchen permalink
    February 14, 2015 8:29 pm

    My chi will bed 17 next month. She’s just slowly losing the feeling or whatnot in her hind legs. Her left leg went first, but she still responds in her right. She wants to eat and drink though, so just helping her though this last phase.

  2. Zena permalink
    December 23, 2014 4:21 pm

    Thank you so much for your response I tried to ask my baby’s vet but he didn’t come up with much I asked to see a nutritionist so I can talk to that dr my self I made appointment for January 5th 2015. I will take my baby and see what this nutritionist dr has to say on feeding my baby . Thanks again I will respond again soon . Thanks again Zena

    • December 23, 2014 11:18 pm

      Where are you?

      • Zena permalink
        December 24, 2014 1:34 am

        I’m in Paramus NJ

      • December 24, 2014 9:26 am

        You are going to love the nutrition consult. Be sure they give you a home-cooked diet recipe and options you can buy pre-made. They should be able to send the diet prescription they make you to a company that will make it and it gets delivered to your door (for a fee, of course!)

        My vet friends at Red Bank Animal Hospital use those services. It can take 1-2 weeks for your custom diet plan to be designed. It costs US$250-$350, depending on how complicated your Chi’s case is.

        I’d love to hear how it goes!
        -Doc Truli

    • February 24, 2015 9:02 am

      Dear Zena,
      What happened at the nutrition consult?

  3. Zena permalink
    December 23, 2014 1:54 am

    Hi my chihuahua just turned 14 on November 26th Drs just diagnosed my loving baby with IBS im so worried of losing her she’s my life does anyone know if a chihuahua can beat this IBS problem and what kind of food to give her . I’m wishing to God to let her be with me for few more years in my life I cant imagine my life without her .

    • December 23, 2014 8:58 am

      Dear Zena,
      Your veterinarian can advise you about foods for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. IBD (sort of like IBS in people) is diagnosed with intestinal biopsy samples. Any other method of diagnosis is an educated guess.

      I can tell you I know lots of Chihuahuas that are messed up about eating. Usually, it’s because they are so smart and sensitive to your moods that they turn eating into a human dog emotional

      Ask your vet what to feed. Then feed it. I will post “How to get your picky dog to eat” later this week with a 2-day system for over coming the food emotion trap.

      Doc Truli

  4. Julie permalink
    October 18, 2014 6:58 pm

    My chihuahua Aspen is 18! I have had her since she was 5 weeks old. She is blind and deaf and has awful dementia, no teeth but still eats and gets around. She pees everywhere so we have had to crate her but only in the last 6 months. Crate them the minute they start peeing, although they are little they can very quickly ruin carpet and hardwood. Learned this the hard way!

  5. Donna permalink
    September 20, 2014 10:00 pm

    Our chihuahua lived 17 years. She belonged to my Mom, and was on canned food and table scraps. She was fat and had a coarse coat. When my Mom passed away, we took Cricket. She had horrible teeth and a heart murmur. We put her on a raw diet, and she immediately took to it. We had a dental done on her, and what teeth she had left, stayed clean. Her weight became normal, and her coat became soft and the color was brighter. My husband used to call her Farm Dog. She could run the 300 feet to the barn and back at 16. She developed an upper respiratory infection at age 17 that took her.

    • September 21, 2014 4:44 pm

      You helped Cricket live to her full potential. Thank you for sharing that great stiry.

  6. Susan permalink
    September 4, 2014 2:44 pm

    My Chi, Gabbie, is approx 11. She was already full grown when I received her so not sure of exact age. I’ve fed her Science Diet since I’ve gotten her and for the last several years have kept her on the small bites lite formula. She would find a way to get snacks or cat food when I wasn’t looking and got a little chunky for a little while. She has maintained her girlish figure but recently seems skinnier than I like. Have I kept her on the diet food too long? She’s still fairly active and loves chasing the kitties around. What do you suggest?

    • September 4, 2014 6:16 pm

      Hi Susan!
      What did your vet say about her weight?

      • Susan permalink
        September 5, 2014 11:17 am

        they’re actually waiting results for blood work to make any decisions. I’m just anxious for something because I love that little booger so much. They did notice that she’s lost weight each time she’s been in. I’m just concerened whether I’ve hurt her diet by keeping her on diet food too long and whether she needs something more nutritional. She’s always hungry, but she’s always been that way. ha!!

  7. August 18, 2014 9:23 pm

    We have a chihuahua that we got when I was 9 years old. ( I am now 31). She has the worst teeth you can imagine. We don’t want to put her under to have her teeth cleaned ( as we do with our other dogs), can you suggest anything. Also, I have been looking after her now for 2 years (she was with my parents before that), and it is like she has a new lease on life. She runs around with our much younger cav King Charles spaniel. Should I stop her from doing this as she may have a heart attack? I usually just let her go because she is having such a good time, although she tires easily, but again who wouldn’t at her age. Regards Cathie

    • August 19, 2014 7:56 pm

      Dear Cathie,
      22 yr old chihuahua! Awesome! What is your chi’s name?

      You have good questions about teeth and exercise. Since I am a real, licensed veterinarian I know I would have to meet you and your fantastic chi in the real world (instead of online) in order to give you helpful, not hurtful advice.

      Come to Clearwater, Florida and I’d love to meet such a long-lived Chihuahua!

      Doc Truli

  8. khloe permalink
    May 12, 2014 3:13 pm

    My chihuahua is 17 too. Got him when I was 3 and I’m 20 now. His teeth are gone and he’s going blind but that doesn’t stop him from anything. His little butt can still hop up on the couch and everything even tho sometimes he misses and you can’t help but giggle.

    • May 14, 2014 5:27 pm

      Awesome!!! What’s his name?

  9. Judy permalink
    April 30, 2014 1:31 pm

    There was a Chihuahua on Facebook, I forget his name now as it was a few years ago, and he was 23 or 24. There was another one that was 23.

  10. Katherine permalink
    September 26, 2013 9:05 pm

    My chihuahua,Casey turned 17 on Sept. 9, 2013


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