Pet Insurance for Chihuahuas: Protecting your Big-Little Dog

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Tips to Finding The Best Pet Insurance for Your Chihuahua

Dodge big vet bills for your small dog with pet insurance for Chihuahuas.

It’s said that the ancient ancestors of the modern Chihuahua, had mystic powers and were able to heal the sick, see into the future, and safely guide the souls of the dead to the next world. It seems from the start these little dogs were destined for big things.

Indeed, the Chihuahua is a dog blessed with total self-confidence, who never let’s their small size get in the way of a good time. Also gifted with intelligence, playfulness, and a can-do attitude, it’s no wonder that these pocket rockets attract such devoted owners.

But should your cherished Chi become sick or injured, be aware there’s nothing pocket-sized about the vet bills they attract. Their small size isn’t reflected in the cost of treatment and you can still expect to dig deep if they need surgery, lifelong medication, or complex diagnostics.

As savvy pet parents often say, pet insurance for Chihuahuas gives you peace of mind. If you’re tempted to skip this safety net because of your dog’s small size, then think again. Here are just some of the reasons pet insurance is a sound idea for your significant four-legger.

Condition 

Signs 

Treatment 

Cost

Patellar luxation

A skipping gait that goes 1-2-3-hop

Mild cases may only require pain relief, but reconstructive surgery is the gold standard

£1,500 – 3,000 for specialist surgery

Fractured bones

Pain

Surgical correction

£1,500-5,000

Collapsing trachea

Breathing difficulties

Surgical placement of a stent to support the windpipe

£2,000-4,000

Pulmonic stenosis

Detection of a murmur at vaccination through to a cough and heart failure

Mild cases require no action, with severe cases needing specialist heart surgery

Up to £8,000

Heart Murmur

Cough, lack of energy

Daily heart medications

Medications starting from £1-2 per day

Hypoglycaemia

Shaking, confusion, collapse, coma

Intravenous glucose

£50 – 400 depending on the severity of the episode

Patellar Luxation…also known as wobbly kneecaps

The humble kneecap (or ‘patella’)  has an important function. It provides a sliding anchor for the big muscles of the thigh to pull against and straighten the leg. When the shin bone, thigh bone, and kneecap are all nicely lined up then everything goes swimmingly.

It’s not until there’s a problem do you realize how important a dog’s kneecap is. A variety of anatomical quirks can mean when the thigh muscles contract, instead of the leg straightening, the patella is dragged off to one side.

From there it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to the intermittent lameness that is so characteristic of patella luxation.

The factors that contribute towards wobbly kneecaps include:

  • The knee joint capsule becomes stretched
  • The deep groove in which the kneecap is supposed to sit, is actually too shallow
  • A slight twisting of the shin bone means the thigh muscles pull at an angle

Sadly, Chihuahuas could well be the poster-dog for canine patellar luxation. This is a very common condition in the breed, with it being more unusual to have a normal kneecap than a luxating one.

As well as physically locking the leg in the wrong position, over time this causes joint inflammation and pain. For some dogs this is controllable with pain-relieving medication.

But for the worst cases there’s a distinct risk of early arthritis or marked discomfort. These little guys benefit from corrective surgery, so that the leg lines up as it should.

Some procedures can be done in first opinion practice, however, referral to a specialist may be necessary for the worst cases. Whilst this surgery works wonders to get your pet pal back up on their paws, it comes with a weighty price tag attached. Pet insurance for Chihuahuas means you can decide what’s best based on the dog’s needs rather than the depth of your pocket.

Fractured Bones

Small is beautiful but it also means delicate, especially when it comes to bones.

Our cheeky Chihuahua is big on character but this can lead them into trouble. If they dart underfoot or jump from too high, the unfortunate consequences could well be broken bones.

As a general rule, Chihuahuas and plaster casts don’t get on well. This is a healing thing, rather than a character thing. Those fragile bones mend badly when immobilized inside a plaster cast, and internal fixation is by far the better option.

Internal fixation refers to mending breaks with metal pins, plates, wires, or screws placed directly onto the bone or inside it. These metal implants provide the stability needed for small bones to repair.

However, this is a double whammy when it comes to expense. Not only is orthopaedic surgery expensive, but tiny bones need special equipment, which once again comes at a price.

The chances of Chi related accident rise if you have small children in the house. So adopt the belt and braces approach of teaching the children to be gentle, plus put pet insurance for Chihuahuas in place, just in case the worst happens.

Collapsing Trachea

The trachea or windpipe is the tube through which air passes from the nose to the lungs. Small breeds such as the Chihuahua, but also the poodle and Yorkshire terrier, as prone to a condition where the windpipe collapses in on itself.

This condition is caused when the cartilage rings forming the trachea, stretch out of shape. Then, when the dog breathes in, the windpipe sucks closed on itself. Just like putting your foot on a hosepipe, a narrowed or collapsed trachea makes it difficult for the dog to breathe.

The classic signs of this are the dog that coughs each time they pull on the collar or gets excited. Other problems can also cause similar symptoms, but regardless a checkup with the vet is needed.

Treatment is tricky and often requires specialist surgery. The options include placing a support around the windpipe or placing a stent to keep it open. This is more complex than it sounds since the collapsing part often lies within the chest itself.

Pulmonic Stenosis

Pulmonic stenosis is a form of congenital (present since birth) heart disease. It is caused by the valve being too narrow, which regulates blood flow from the heart to the lungs.

In mild cases the only effect is turbulent blood flow, which the vet hears as a murmur. These dogs may be completely fit and well and no further action is required other than monitoring.

However, a diagnostic ultrasound is the gold standard, in order to assess the potential for damage in later years.

Also, the most severe cases can cause heart failure. In order to prevent this, a veterinary cardiologist can use a special balloon catheter to gently stretch the restricted part of the blood vessel. This solves the problem and can prevent heart failure developing. But of course, such a sophisticated technique doesn’t come cheap, which is where pet insurance for Chihuahuas can save you both from heart ache.

Heart Murmurs

Another problem Chihuahuas, along with other toy breeds, are prone to is stiff heart valves in old age. As the heart ages, the valves inside stiffen and are less flexible. This means the valves no longer close fully and some blood can pass in the wrong direction through the heart. It is this turbulent blood flow that the vet hears with a stethoscope as a murmur.

There is a big difference between a heart murmur and heart failure. Many dogs have a quiet heart murmur and it never causes them a moment’s distress. However, the louder the murmur the more serious the potential complications it can cause.

Interestingly, a recent study shows that starting one particular heart medication (Pimobendan) when the heart is enlarged but not yet struggling, can increase life expectancy. However, this is an expensive medication and when taken for the rest of the dog’s life, the costs fairly mount up even for a small dog like a Chihuahua.

Add into this the cost of monitoring heart scans and again, pet insurance for Chihuahuas suddenly seems essential.

Hypoglycaemia

Hypoglycemia refers to abnormally low blood sugar levels. If a Chi puppy doesn’t eat for a long period of time, their limited reserves make them prone to hypoglycemia.

The signs start with trembling and shaking, and lead to confusion, collapse, coma, and even death if untreated. In the early stages, giving the dog some sugar water by mouth can save the day. Butt if the dog is already drowsy and having difficulty swallowing, then professional help is needed.

Monitoring blood sugar levels, intravenous fluids, and nursing can all add up to one expensive skipped meal on the part of the pup.

Pet Insurance for Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas are physically small but can get big problems, just like any dog. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking the vet bill for a Chi will be proportionately smaller.

Should your Chi become ill, it takes the same level of care, expertise, nursing, and surgical skill to get them well again. All of which may add up to an outsized invoice. Don’t put yourself in the position of worrying about these bills, instead weigh up the benefits of pet insurance for Chihuahuas and act now!

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