Does Chihuahua help asthma?
Millions of Americans suffer from asthma and it is indeed a limiting and debilitating condition.
If only the cure for asthma was owning a cute Chihuahua! So many rescue Chihuahuas would find forever homes!
If you are thinking of buying or adopting a Chi as an asthma cure, please read this article before you do so.
There are many myths surrounding Chihuahua ownership and one of them is that Chihuahua helps asthma sufferers,
If you have the same misconception, then this guide is for you.
Does Chihuahua Help Asthma?
No. This is a myth and Chihuahuas do not really help cure or eliminate asthma symptoms.
In fact: no dog can cure any medical condition – more so a chronic condition like asthma.
You might have heard of certain dog breeds being used for medicinal purposes. However, a Chihuahua treating or curing asthma is definitely a myth and it does not work.
There are many good and bad reasons to get a Chihuahua as a pet:
The right reasons to get a Chihuahua
If you are planning to buy or adopt a Chihuahua for an asthmatic member (or because you yourself suffer from the condition), then please be aware of the fact that this ‘therapy’ does not work.
There are many good reasons to buy or adopt a Chi. (we strongly urge you to adopt one as you’d be saving a dog from the harsh life of foster homes and cramped rescue shelters).
The best reason to get a Chi is that it can be very therapeutic. Dogs help relieve stress and they make loving companions.
Chis are even more special since they are inherently cuddly, sweet-natured, and affectionate dogs. Dogs are also known to have stabilized blood sugar levels in diabetics. They can definitely prevent obesity in owners by making them more active and are also very beneficial for one’s heart health.
The wrong reasons to get a Chihuahua
Curing asthma is definitely not something a Chihuahua (or any dog breed for that matter) can do. So, please seek medical help for your asthma. Do not buy or adopt a Chi only to be disappointed later.
Note that asthma is a serious condition and people can even die if they don’t receive the right treatment for it. So don’t rely on a dog and please seek medical help if your symptoms worsen.
Please don’t abandon the dog!
The worst thing is that many people get Chihuahuas for the sole purpose of curing their child’s asthma only to find out that the said therapy does not work.
They then abandon these poor dogs since they don’t have the time or effort to spend on training them. Many Chis end up in the shelters due to this.
Hundreds of dogs are then put down as they are deemed untrainable or aggressive. All this for no fault of the dog.
Does Chihuahua Help Asthma? What is the Origin of the Myth?
There are three primary reasons behind the ‘Chihuahuas help asthma’ myth:
1. Their origin
Chihuahuas have an interesting origin.
These dogs were first bred by the Techichi tribes in Mexico where they helped their owners and other ancient Aztec tribes trap small animals, rodents etc.
Later on, the tribes also started using them for medicinal purposes.
This wasn’t the first time these tribes had used dogs for therapy: many Mexican dog breeds including the famous xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless dog) were used as medicine. The Xoloitzcuintli were especially known for their higher-than-average body temperatures which made them excellent as ‘hot water bottles’.
People with arthritis and chronic aches and pains slept with these dogs over their aching joints to relieve the painful joints. The warmth emanated by the dog’s body relieved pain and gave much needed comfort to the afflicted individuals.
Perhaps, the use of Chihuahuas as asthma relief might have also stemmed from a similar belief.
Chihuahuas were used for sacrifice and it was believed that their blood helped cure ailments and bring prosperity and good health.
2. Their average lifespan
Chihuahuas live an average of 11 to 19 years.
Many people buy/adopt Chihuahuas for their asthmatic child as soon as it is diagnosed as asthmatic.
In many cases, the child naturally gets better as he grows and often, the asthma is completely resolved by the time it is an adult. (Not all childhood asthma cases get better – many continue to suffer from it even in adulthood).
This is also the time that the Chihuahua in the family reaches the end of its lifespan. This might have unknowingly supported the theory that the child’s asthma was cured due to the Chi’s presence in the house.
3. Immunity building
Many vets believe that getting a dog is good for kids because dogs help enhance the child’s immune system.
When children interact with dogs from a young age, they get used to their germs, saliva, dander, etc. All this builds their immunity.
Also, mingling with dogs helps babies develop beneficial gut microflora that makes the child less susceptible to many allergens including the inflammatory reactions of asthma.
But before you let your child lick those Chihuahua toys, please consult your child’s doctor to ensure if this is indeed true.
Are Chihuahuas Good for Allergies?
If you or someone in your household suffers from pet allergies, then a Chihuahua dog breed may not be right for you.
Hypoallergenic dog breeds
You see, Chihuahuas are not hypoallergenic dogs.
In fact, no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic. Allergies caused by pets come from not only their fur and shed hairs, it also comes from their saliva.
Granted, the main culprit behind dog allergies in human beings is dander. Dander is the dead skin cells which all dogs produce and it is even present in the dog’s saliva. This is what triggers wheezing, coughing, panting, and other signs of asthma in humans.
Therefore, even if a dog breed is termed as hypoallergenic, it is still going to create and discard dander all over your house.
Shedding in Chihuahuas
The only positive thing with hypoallergenic dog breed is that they shed a lot less than average dogs.
They definitely shed a lot less than our long haired Chihuahua and even the short or smooth coated Chihuahuas. Chihuahuas of all coat-types shed throughout the year and that can be a deterrent to you if you are planning to get a Chihuahua and suffer from allergies or asthma.
Bottom-line: Chihuahuas are not really best-suited for allergy or asthma sufferers. However, there are ways to manage dog allergies but that is a topic for another blog post.
Which Dog Breeds are Best for Asthmatics?
The good news is that there are several dog breeds that are suited for asthmatics and allergy sufferers. But you must again note the fact that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic.
You can look for dogs that don’t have an undercoat. This will help you deal with a lot less shedding and resultantly curb the pet dander in the surrounding air.
Here are some popular dog breed choices for asthma sufferers:
Not only are poodles hypoallergenic and non-shedding, they are also very sweet and smart dogs. They learn quickly, are easy to train, and their coats form a water-resistive barrier which minimizes shedding and dander. The downside to poodle ownership is that they need a ton of grooming.
2. Bichon Frise
This small and cute dog shed less and is also suitable for apartment dwellers. They are fairly easy to train too.
3. Portuguese Water Dog
President Obama and their family made the Portuguese water dog breed very famous. Bo, their PWD, was specially chosen for Malia’s allergies.
The cute dog could be seen running about in the White House when President Obama was in office. Unfortunately, Bo passed away due to cancer recently and the Obamas paid some heartwarming tributes to their beloved pet.
4. Yorkshire terriers
Yorkies have long silky coats which are almost human-like in appearance and that is why this breed is an excellent choice for asthmatics and allergy sufferers. On the downside, like the poodle, this dog needs a lot of regular grooming.
Check out our Yorkies section to know more about this breed.
The Labradoodle is the mix between Poodles and Labradors. There are three types of Labradoodles – F1, F2, and F3 types based on how much percentage of Labrador retriever and Poodle the resulting dogs have.
Not all three varieties are 100% hypoallergenic. So, do a bit of research when you set out to buy or adopt one. Also find a reputed breeder and discuss carefully if the breed is right for people with asthma.
Which Dog Breeds are Worst for Asthma Sufferers?
There is no single dog breed that is worst for asthma sufferers, however, some dog breeds are prone to developing skin issues like dry skin more than the others.
Dry skin leads to more dander and shedding which is what causes pet allergy symptoms in most humans.
Also, some dog breeds shed a lot all through the year. These are definitely not a good choice for allergy sufferers and asthmatics.
We recommend staying away from the double-coated dog breeds like German Shepherd, Huskies, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, etc.
Also, you may want to rethink your decision of getting breeds that are most prone to skin issues: Dalmatians, Shar Pei, French Bulldogs, Boxers, and spaniels.
Are Chihuahuas Prone to Asthma?
Yes, dogs can also suffer from canine asthma and Chihuahuas are one of the breeds know to have this condition. Asthma is also frequently seen in brachycephalic dogs like pugs and small dog breeds like the Maltese.
Signs of asthma in dogs
The symptoms of dog asthma are similar to those in humans:
- Snorting noises
- dog breathing problem
- Mucous formation
- Runny nose
Causes of asthma in dogs
Most canine asthma sufferers, like humans, could develop asthma symptoms when they come in contact with the following allergens:
- Cat litter
- Candles and incense sticks
- Vehicular smoke, pollution
Diagnosis of asthma in dogs
Many other infections and health conditions can cause asthma-like symptoms in Chihuahua breed. That is why your vet might order several tests – blood and urine analysis, X-rays, etc. They will want to rule out heartworm disease and kennel cough which also cause wheezing, panting, and shortness of breath – similar to asthma.
If your Chihuahuas gets a serious asthma attack, it might need oxygen therapy and hospitalization. Your vet might also administer steroids to clear its airways. You may want to include the use of HEPA air filters and constant vacuuming to reduce allergens in your home.
Keep your pet away from dust, pollen, and mold. Your vet might recommend bronchodilators, allergy shots, and antihistamines to manage milder symptoms. But please do not ignore asthma in Chihuahuas as it can be a serious and a life-threatening condition too.
FAQs on Does Chihuahua Help Asthma
1. Can you keep pets if you have asthma?
You could consider certain hypoallergenic dog breeds if you have asthma. You can also keep other pets like fish, reptiles, and amphibians for the asthmatic child in the household.
2. Why does my Chihuahua sound like he cannot breathe?
Chihuahuas can suffer from reverse sneezing or snorting. In reverse sneezing, it might sound as if your pet is choking or cannot breathe. A number of factors can cause reverse sneezing including tracheal collapse or some irritation in the airways.
Some of these episodes tend to last for a few minutes and resolve on their own. Other times, a Chi might suffer from reverse sneezing several times throughout the day. You can help your Chi breathe easier by closing its nostrils and massaging its throat until it swallows.
If this does not help, please see your vet right away.
Does Chihuahua help asthma?
People believe that Chihuahua dog breed can help asthmatics –especially kids – since the child gets used to germs and allergens which helps build better immunity against the condition.
However, Chihuahuas are not a proven cure for asthma. So one mustn’t rely on them and must always seek the guidance of an experienced allergist or pediatrician.
We hope this guide helps you buy/adopt a Chihuahua for all the right reasons.