If you have a Chihuahua, you have probably noticed how big their head and eyes are in comparison to their bodies, but have you ever wondered about how big the heart is that keeps their little body running?
A lot of Chihuahua owners ask this question — how big is the heart that keeps their tiny pup going?
The truth is Chihuahua hearts are what run the rest of their body. Like other dogs, a Chihuahuas heart size depends on the size of each dog. The Chihuahua heart typically ranges from the size of a grape to the size of a walnut.
Seeing as they are so tiny, their hearts are too! Although, their hearts beat just as fast as other dog breeds, sometimes even faster.
Chihuahua Heart Size / X-rays
Chihuahua Hearts can range in size depending on what type of Chihuahua they are (teacup, apple head, deer head, etc.) If you are curious about your pup’s heart, there is a way to measure its size.
The “vertebral heart scale” uses x-rays to see inside a Chihuahuas chest. By measuring the distance between the bones and heart, a veterinarian can tell whether or not your pup’s heart is too big or too small.
A lot of people might assume that a Chihuahuas heart is completely different from a human heart; however, this is not the case. Their hearts work the same as ours, only in a smaller version!
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Tiny dogs are known for their fast heart rate, seeing as their hearts must pump faster to keep up with their tiny bodies. A chihuahua’s heart can beat as often as 160 times every minute! This is very fast compared to a human whose average heartbeat is 60 times per minute.
Do Chihuahuas Have Heart Problems?
Chihuahuas are known for having heart issues that not only cause an enlarged heart but can cause other issues as well.
Chihuahuas are prone to heart defects, heart disease, and heart failure. Other problems a Chihuahua might face include heart infection, swelling, abnormal beating, and valve issues.
There is a higher chance that Chihuahuas will have heart issues because of their size. Since some have been bred to be small (teacup chihuahuas), their heart pumps faster to keep their little bodies moving.
Even though it is a scary thought that your pup might have a heart problem, there are thankfully a lot of treatments available that can help a Chihuahua’s heart in many ways. Some treatments include diet change, exercise, and medication; only occasionally will Chihuahuas need heart surgery to fix the problem!
One of the most common heart defects is in Chihuahua puppies, caused when a certain blood vessel doesn’t close at birth. This defect is commonly spread through breeding but can thankfully be fixed with surgery!
What Causes Chihuahuas to Have Heart Disease?
Heart disease is common in Chihuahuas. They can either be born with the disease, or it develops over time.
Your vet may recommend a blood test to check and see if your pup is at risk of developing heart disease.
Obesity is one of the most common reasons why a Chihuahua may develop heart disease. There are also several other common reasons such as lack of exercise, infections/bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
This is why diet change is often recommended to ensure that your Chihuahua will live a healthy life. By adding additional weight onto their already tiny bodies, a Chihuahuas heart will have to keep up even more than it already is.
A lot of extra weight on a Chihuahua is not only hard on their hearts, but their bones and muscles as well. By carrying that additional weight, their muscles begin to weaken and the pressure on the bones can make them break!
It is also important to make sure your Chihuahua is protected from heartworm. Heartworm is a common cause for Chihuahuas developing heart failure and heart disease. If your Chihuahua develops heartworm, their lifespan may become limited, typically only as long as 5 years.
Does My Chihuahua Have an Enlarged Heart?
Some Chihuahua owners become concerned that their pup may have an enlarged heart. It is true that Chihuahuas are prone to having enlarged hearts, this is typically caused by underlying heart problems.
Because their little hearts work so hard to pump blood, especially when the pup has a heart problem, their heart will oftentimes become enlarged — the heart becomes bigger as it becomes weaker.
A common heart issue that Chihuahuas develop is mitral valve disease — a disease that can make the Chihuahuas heart very enlarged, this disease is most often found in male Chihuahuas.
Here are some signs that your Chihuahua may have an enlarged heart:
- Sudden weight loss
- Weak pulse
- Rapid breathing
- Strange noises when breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Low energy
- Poor circulation
- Swelling from fluid
Tip: If you notice your pup having any of these symptoms, it is best to get them to the vet right away!
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How is a Chihuahuas Enlarged Heart Treated?
There are many different ways your veterinarian may treat your Chihuahua for an enlarged heart.
One of the most popular treatment methods is a medication that will slow the heart from beating so fast, resulting in the delay of heart failure. Other medications can be used to keep the heart beating at a regular pace or work towards adjusting circulation and irregular heartbeats.
Here are some of the most common medications given to Chihuahuas with enlarged hearts:
- ACE inhibitors (improve blood flow by widening the blood vessels)
- Calcium channel blockers (treat high blood pressure)
- Beta-blockers (treat high blood pressure / helps blood vessels stay at normal size)
- Digoxin (increases the contraction of heart muscles)
Tip: Be sure to check with your vet about what dosage of medicine your pup should take depending on their heart size and specific heart issue. Giving a Chihuahua too much medication for their heart could be fatal!
There are several other ways that a Chihuahuas enlarged heart can be treated. Diet change can be a very helpful method. There are multiple dog foods available that are specifically aimed towards heart health.
One of the key diet changes that help a Chihuahuas enlarged heart is switching them to a low-sodium diet.
Your Chihuahuas potassium levels may also be checked by your vet. Potassium can be harmful to small breeds, so your vet may want you to keep your pup away from certain dog foods high in potassium.
Tip: Ask your vet how much sodium and potassium your pup, in particular, should be consuming.
Does my Chihuahua Have a Heart Murmur?
Another common heart issue in the Chihuahua breed is heart murmurs or abnormal heartbeat. These occur when blood is uncontrolled as it flows through the heart.
There are typically no symptoms of heart murmurs in Chihuahuas; although the murmurs may be occurring along with other symptoms if there is a more serious underlying condition. The only way to determine if your Chihuahua has a heart murmur is for a vet to examine them.
Here are several ways your vet will check for a heart murmur:
- Physical exam
- Chest x-ray
- Listening to the dog’s heart
- Additional testing
Typically, heart murmurs in Chihuahuas can be caught in the early stages by your vet. Many dogs will live with heart murmurs and be completely fine; although, it is important to get your pup checked out by a vet because murmurs can oftentimes indicate more serious issues like heart disease.
Signs My Chihuahua Has a Heart Murmur?
There are many different reasons why your Chihuahua could have a heart murmur. A lot of times there is no reason to worry. While murmurs are not specifically caused by disease, if your pup does have a murmur, it could indicate underlying issues.
There are several serious issues that a heart murmur can indicate such as narrow heart valves, extra valves, infection, heartworm disease, hyperthyroidism, anemia, etc.
Some symptoms of a heart murmur caused by an underlying disease or heart problem(s) may include:
- Lack of energy
- Pale gums
- Bloated belly
Tip: If a vet decides your pup has a non-concerning heart murmur, you may still want to have their heart checked as they grow just to be sure nothing changes along the way!
How Long Can My Chihuahua Live with a Heart Murmur?
Taking your Chihuahua to regular vet visits is the best option for ensuring your pup will have the best chance at keeping a healthy heart.
As long as your Chihuahua has been examined by a vet and there are no issues other than a murmur, your dog should live a fully happy, and healthy life! Depending on what type of Chihuahua you have, their lifespan can vary between 7–20 years.
One important thing you can do to make sure your Chihuahua lives comfortably with a heart murmur is to make sure they never get overheated!
How Is a Chihuahua Heart Murmur Treated?
Since heart murmurs in Chihuahuas are typically not concerning, and they are not a disease themselves, there is normally not a lot of treatment done unless there is something more serious that a vet determines is going on.
Your vet may provide testing to see what the underlying cause of the heart murmur is. After finding the cause, your vet will then determine how to treat your pup!
Tip: It is always important to schedule follow-up visits with your vet to make sure your pup’s heart is doing okay and they are happy and healthy!
If your Chihuahuas heart murmur is serious and is going to cause problems, a vet may perform surgery to seal the heart valve shut so that blood will flow normally again. However, medication can typically cause these results as well without having to perform surgery.
Can Chihuahuas Have Heart Attacks?
Most of the heart diseases and heart issues mentioned above interrupt blood flow to a Chihuahua’s heart.
Chihuahuas can have heart attacks because of blood flow issues, defective heart valves, and any other heart conditions that make the heart pump faster than it should.
Here are several other reasons why your Chihuahua may experience a heart attack:
- Tumor mass
- Bacterial infection
- High cholesterol
Thankfully there are many treatments your vet can provide your pup if they have suffered a heart attack. Some of these treatments include:
- Medication and Antibiotics
- Pacemaker implants
- Different surgeries
- Diet change
Chihuahua Heart Health
Your Chihuahua must keep their heart healthy just like we keep ours healthy! There are several steps you can take to make sure that your pup’s heart stays beating strong:
- Exercise and a good diet (not only help heart problems but keeps them in shape and a good mood!)
- Maintaining a good weight
- Eliminating harmful bacteria (specifically from the mouth — brush your pup’s teeth consistently to avoid tartar buildup — there have been links between tooth problems and heart disease.)
- Heart checkups at the vet
- Blood pressure checkups
- Avoid smoking or vaping around your pup (just like humans, dogs can be affected by secondhand smoking.)
Oftentimes diet is one of the most important treatments that you can provide your Chihuahua to keep their heart-healthy. Even if they do not have any heart issues, it is always good to keep them eating the right things so that no problems ever occur.
Some meats are very good for Chihuahua heart health including beef, lamb, and chicken. It is also a good idea to provide your pup vitamin C and E and nutrients like omega-3 oils, these all are great for Chihuahua hearts!
For a list of all the fruits Chihuahuas can and can’t eat, check out this article: Complete List of Fruit Chihuahuas Can & Can’t Eat!
There are many precautions we can take to ensure our Chihuahua’s hearts stay in top shape! If you feel like your pup may be experiencing heart issues, it is best to let the vet take a look at them to rule out any underlying heart problems your dog may be experiencing.
If you are not able to get a hold of a vet near you, there are several online resources that you can turn to. Here are a few of our recommendations.
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Pet Vet Corner ℠ (ONLY APPROVED VETERINARIANS COMMENT) | Facebook
While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.