Chihuahuas are highly intelligent members of the dog world. Small in stature, with the breed standard being 2.72kg. or less, Chihuahuas make the perfect companion animal. Chihuahuas are thought to be descendants from the Fennec fox, which displays the same prominent features of the Chihuahua: large ears and eyes with a relatively small body. Though considered a hardy breed, Chihuahuas, like many other breeds of dog, are subject to having skin disorders.
The most common skin condition in Chihuahuas is allergic dermatitis. The hallmark symptom of allergic dermatitis is an extremely itchy dog accompanied by generalised reddening and irritation of skin and hair loss. Common causes of allergic dermatitis are inhalant allergens such as mould and pollen, food allergies and parasites. Taking your Chihuahua to the veterinarian is the only way to determine the root cause of the allergy and institute the correct treatment.
Contact dermatitis is another form of allergic skin disorder; however, instead of ingesting or inhaling the allergen, the dog simply has to come into contact with the offending substance. Contact dermatitis is different from other allergic dermatitis conditions in that the irritation and infection remains localised, meaning that red, irritated skin and hair loss will generally be restricted to the areas that come into contact with the irritant. Treatment includes the identification and removal of the offending items and the administration of topical and oral medications to reduce the immune response and treat any underlying bacterial infections.
An extremely common skin condition in Chihuahuas is a form of allergic dermatitis known as flea allergy. Irritation is caused by the injection of flea saliva into the dog's skin when the flea bites the dog. While fleabites will cause localised itching in all dogs, dogs with a sensitivity will have a more severe reaction. Intense itching, hair loss and bacterial infections due to constant abrasion of the skin are all symptoms of flea allergy. Steps to remove the infestation and control the symptoms will be implemented until the condition is brought under control.
Fungal infections are very common in Chihuahuas. Common causes of fungal infections of the skin include malassezia and ringworm, which is transmissible to humans. Fungal infections respond well to treatment with topical and oral administration of antifungal medications; however, a proper diagnosis and prescription is required from a veterinarian, since not all fungal infections will respond to all antifungal medications.
Chihuahuas can also have immune system disorders that manifest into skin conditions. Immune system disorders occur when the immune system mounts a response against the dog itself and can only be controlled by the use of drugs that suppress the entire immune system.