Has your chihuahua started wheezing or making similar hacking-like noises out of nowhere? Although this is never a good sign, it pays to know more about the condition before bringing your chi to the vet. So, you might be wondering, why is my chihuahua wheezing?
Wheezing is common in toy breeds like the chihuahua. And it can come from several things, ranging from food intolerances to allergies. But it’s best to know the exact cause to help you find the best treatment for your chi.
Let’s look at the nine possible reasons why your chihuahua is wheezing—and how to help!
What is Wheezing?
When chihuahuas experience difficulty in breathing, they may begin wheezing. It usually happens when something blocks the dog’s airways. You can differentiate wheezing from coughing or sneezing by listening to a high-pitched noise. It sounds like a whistling sound coming whenever your chi inhales and exhales.
Regardless of the reason behind it, a wheezing chihuahua can be alarming. After all, it often indicates severe breathing issues in your chihuahua. So, if your chi keeps wheezing and you spot other symptoms like blueish gums, go to the vet ASAP! These signal that your chihuahua isn’t getting enough oxygen—which can be fatal.
But if your chi wheezes out of nowhere, this should go away on its own. And for these cases, you don’t need to take any special measures.
Why is My Chihuahua Wheezing?
🫁 Asthma (Allergic Bronchitis)
Chihuahuas, like humans, can get asthma when their upper airways spasm or constricts. And this often causes chis to wheeze a lot. These small dogs can develop the condition via their environment—causing allergic reactions.
Here are a few of the common allergens in chis you must pay attention to:
- Cigarette smoke, butts, or debris.
- Dust or smoke from a fireplace.
- Smoke from wood-burning stoves.
- Robust aromas from a deodorizer or air freshener.
Although all chihuahuas can develop asthma, middle-aged and older chis are more prone. Although not fatal, asthma can affect the dog’s health and well-being over time. So, pay attention and avoid overlooking the condition for too long. Luckily, you can treat asthma in chihuahuas with medication.
Among the most common causes of wheezing in chihuahuas are allergies. Chis with seasonal allergies wheeze a lot as part of the many symptoms they suffer from yearly. And this is especially the case if pollen counts in your area are at their peak!
Aside from seasonal allergies, chis may also wheeze via contact allergies. Contact allergy is when your dog gets exposed to allergens that sneaked into their space! Their short snouts give them a smaller airway than other dogs—causing wheezing. And chihuahuas are especially prone to these as skin allergies are common among their breed.
🫁 Blocked Airways
If your chihuahua sounds like they’re choking, it might have a blockage! Your chi might’ve inhaled a foreign object and had it lodged in its trachea or nasal passages. Generally, inhaled blockage happens when chihuahuas eat fast and breathe while chowing down. It causes food pieces to get stuck where they should not be.
Besides that, wheezing via blocked airways may also happen if your chi ate small items. These could either be a broken toy, stick or treat! Regardless, these things shouldn’t be within your chihuahua’s vicinity. After all, these tiny dogs are naturally curious and may eat anything they see.
If you suspect your chihuahua is wheezing due to blocked airways, take them to the emergency vet ASAP. You must have the item blocking your chi’s airway removed fast. If not, your chihuahua will continue wheezing until receiving treatment.
🫁 Heartworms (Parasites)
Your chihuahua might be wheezing via parasitic infection if it shows other symptoms. And these include:
- Sudden weight loss.
- Excess nasal discharge.
- Rapid breathing rate.
- Lethargic behavior.
- Vomiting or regurgitation.
- Worms are present in the feces.
Different parasites can interfere with your chihuahua’s respiratory tract—causing wheezing. But the deadliest you must watch out for is heartworms. These parasites travel from a chihuahua’s heart to its lungs and other organs.
Wheezing via heartworms indicates a severe case, and your chi won’t likely get cured. Luckily, the symptoms are manageable, and you can help your chihuahua breathe better. Always consult your dog’s vet first to find the best treatment.
🫁 Heart Disease
Chihuahuas with heart disease might experience wheezing after a while. Although it isn’t the first indication of the condition, it’s one of the most distinct. Wheezing starts mid-way through the progression of heart disease for most chis. Luckily, this is manageable, and your vet will help you pick the best solution for you and your chihuahua.
Besides wheezing, some chihuahuas with heart disease may also have a collapsing trachea. As dangerous as it sounds, tracheal collapse shouldn’t be too troubling for your chi. But it forces your chihuahua to wheeze a lot more often!
🫁 Nasal Mites
Nasal mites also refer to a parasitic infection, like heartworms. But it’s milder and a less troubling issue. Still, it requires vet intervention to treat and heal your chihuahua. This condition causes your chi to wheeze more often, scratch its face, or rub its snot. You should be able to distinguish nasal mites from other parasitic infections by checking for those symptoms.
Generally, nasal mites aren’t a significant problem severity-wise. But this can be a massive issue if you have several dogs. After all, it can spread from one chi to another.
Your chihuahua may also experience reverse sneezing aside from wheezing. And though these two may look and sound worrying, they should go away over time. But if you’re still worried, your vet should be able to provide more info about these symptoms.
🫁 Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a contagious respiratory condition among dogs. Your chi might get this in places where they get exposed to other canines. And these include areas such as:
- Dog daycare.
- Dog park.
- Dog show.
- A training group.
You’ll be able to tell your chihuahua has kennel cough if it starts sneezing, loses its appetite, is lethargic, or has a fever aside from wheezing! Mild cases of this disease are treatable with ample rest. Some vets may prescribe cough medication to your chihuahua to ease the symptoms. And a few prescribe antibiotics to prevent the dog from getting a secondary infection.
Although you can always treat kennel cough, it’s better to prevent your chihuahua from getting infected in the first place. So, I recommend getting your chi vaccinated to avoid infection.
If your chihuahua is wheezing due to Bronchitis, expect your dog to dry hacking cough as well. This medical condition gets triggered by different factors, like:
- Excess stress.
- Strenuous exercise.
- Trauma on the chihuahua’s trachea (windpipe).
- Fluctuating fever.
- Sudden retching or gagging.
- Foamy saliva.
- Rapid breathing rate.
But the most common culprit behind Bronchitis in chihuahuas is obesity. It’s a complicating factor that increases your chi’s disease risk. All chihuahuas can develop Bronchitis, but older chis are more prone.
Infections can cause wheezing among chihuahuas alongside other symptoms such as:
- Excess sneezing or coughing.
- Nasal or eye discharge.
- Irritated temperament.
- Low-grade fever.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Sudden loss of appetite.
- Rapid weight loss.
- Choking or gagging.
Unvaccinated or older chihuahuas are more susceptible to infections due to weaker immune systems.
How to Help My Wheezing Chihuahua?
Non-emergency wheezing often goes away by itself. So, if your chihuahua begins wheezing for a brief period, there’s no need to worry! You can watch your chi and tell it to their vet during your next appointment. But if the wheezing doesn’t seem to stop, it’s best to help your chihuahua.
Here’s how to help your wheezing chihuahua at home:
✔️ Limit Your Chihuahua’s Seasonal Allergy.
If your chihuahua keeps wheezing due to seasonal allergies, limit allergens exposure. For instance, instead of walking your chi in the morning or evening, walk it mid-day. After all, early mornings and evenings are when allergens spread out more!
Another way to help limit your chihuahua’s seasonal allergy is washing it! You can use mild pet wipes to clean your chihuahua each time you go out. But for more severe cases, you can bathe your chi with a gentle shampoo to remove the irritants.
Aside from that, you can also passively help by getting an air purifier or humidifier. These clean your indoor air, reducing the risk of your chi’s seasonal allergies. And you can also limit your usage of scented products like candles or perfumes.
✔️ Take Action During a Severe Wheezing Episode ASAP.
When your chihuahua begins gasping for air while wheezing, take action ASAP! Place your dog on a flat surface and softly massage its neck. Note, never use too much force as this can do more harm than good for your chi! You don’t need to do anything fancy, just put your hand on your chihuahua’s neck and slowly rub it clockwise. As a result, your chi shouldn’t spasm and wheeze as long now.
If that doesn’t work, you can pinch your chihuahua’s nostrils to shorten the wheezing. This technique forces your chi to breathe through its mouth, normalizing its breathing over time.
✔️ Remove Foreign Obstructions.
If you think your chihuahua is wheezing from eating something they shouldn’t, go to the vet ASAP! It would be best if you had these foreign obstructions removed quickly to avoid further complications. And sometimes, when left untreated, this can be fatal to chihuahuas. After all, these tiny dogs have smaller airways than other breeds.
Although you can try to remove the things obstructing your chihuahua’s breathing, it’s too risky. After all, chihuahuas have small mouths and fragile bodies. So, unless you have previous experience, I suggest bringing your chi to the vet.
Watching your chi during playtime prevents it from choking on a foreign item. Never let your chihuahua chew on sticks, as these can splinter fast! And I recommend replacing broken or frayed toys to prevent choking. Toys aside, remember to throw away any bone or meat wrapping in your outdoor trash can!
Also, when giving large treats, such as rawhide, to your chihuahua, supervise it at all times. After all, these are notorious choking hazards for these small dogs.
✔️ Focus on Quality Airflow.
If your chihuahua starts wheezing out of nowhere, it might be due to the poor airflow. Besides that, it may disrupt your chihuahua’s ability to breathe—worsening their symptoms. It’s best to move your chi somewhere with better airflow if they begin wheezing or coughing. So, bring your chihuahua to a well-ventilated space like the kitchen or outdoors for fresh air.
✔️ Remove Triggers from Your Chihuahua’s Environment.
Some things like air fresheners or scented candles can trigger your chihuahua’s wheezing. You can help your chi by removing these items from its space as soon as it starts wheezing or coughing. Meanwhile, if your chi is outdoors and begins wheezing due to the pollen, bring it indoors ASAP.
Be proactive and monitor your chihuahua, even if it’s not seasonal allergies. Doing so can help your chi over time.
✔️ Go to the vet.
If your chi’s wheezing doesn’t go away by itself even after some time or if it worsens, bring it to the vet. They’ll have the best idea of the cause of it and how to treat them.
Since symptoms like wheezing are challenging to show to the vet as they’re happening, it’s best to record your chihuahua’s symptoms whenever they occur. Your vet can form a proper diagnosis by seeing your chi wheezing and knowing the other signs. This way, they can advise what treatment would work best for your chihuahua.
When Should You Be Concerned About Your Wheezing Chihuahua?
As I mentioned, non-emergency wheezing among chihuahuas is nothing to worry about. So, you might wonder, when’s the time should I show concern? If your chi is wheezing with these other symptoms, take it to the vet for immediate treatment:
❗Gasping + Wheezing
If your chihuahua is wheezing and having trouble breathing, this might indicate a more severe medical emergency such as heart disease or a serious allergic reaction. When left untreated, this can prove to be fatal to your chi.
❗Wheezing + Coughing
Wheezing accompanied by coughing may signify respiratory infection, a blocked airway, or kennel cough. It would be best if you addressed any of these conditions ASAP.
❗Wheezing + Blueish Gums or Tongue
If your chihuahua’s gums or tongue begin to turn blue while wheezing, bring them to the emergency vet ASAP! Often, this indicates your dog’s lungs aren’t receiving enough oxygen.
❗Gagging + Wheezing
Chihuahuas who gag or retch while wheezing might have something stuck in their throats. Specifically, they might have something in their windpipe or trachea.
❗Rapid Breathing + Wheezing
If your chihuahua starts to breathe fast while wheezing, this might signify your dog is suffering from different diseases and conditions. The most common ones include bronchitis or heart disease.
❗Loss of Appetite + Wheezing
Chihuahuas who lose their appetite while wheezing may mean your dog has an infection. If accompanied by rapid weight loss, consult your chi’s vet immediately.
❗ Continuous Wheezing
If your chihuahua has been wheezing for days without signs of improvement, you might be facing something more serious. So, take your chi to the emergency vet once your chi doesn’t stop wheezing for 3 – 5 days straight!
How to Prevent My Chihuahua from Wheezing?
Even if most wheezing cases among chihuahuas are mild, it’s best to be safe and prevent it from happening in the first place. Here’s how to avoid wheezing in chihuahuas:
Change your Chihuahua’s Diet
Ensure you’re feeding your chihuahua a healthy and balanced diet. It gives your chi complete nutrition, keeping its immune system healthy and functioning. And if necessary, some vets may suggest feeding chihuahuas a low-allergen diet. It helps your chi control the symptoms aside from wheezing better.
If your chihuahua is overweight, it might have a poor exercise tolerance, compromising its respiratory system—causing wheezing. Aside from changing your chi’s diet, here are things you can do to help your dog stay fit:
- Take your chihuahua on brief but more walks daily.
- Feed your chi smaller portions.
- Feed your chihuahua specially-formulated dog food to lose weight.
- Play with your chi every day.
Have a Nebulizer Ready for Your Chihuahua
Nebulizers are excellent investments for chi owners as they help address wheezing fast. And this is especially helpful if your chihuahua experiences it due to asthma. It transforms liquid medication into a mist, allowing the dog to inhale it directly. If it’s your chi’s first time, slowly introduce it to the device to avoid accidents.
Modify Your Chihuahua’s Environment
To stop your chihuahua’s wheezing and help it breathe better, change some things at home. Here’s what you can do:
- Use milder aerosol sprays.
- Don’t use cleaning products with harsh chemicals.
- Regularly change your home’s air filter.
- Clean and vacuum your home often.
- Limit the usage of scented products.
- Never smoke around your chihuahua.
- Avoid using wood-burning stoves.
Aside from modifying the environment, it also pays to be careful yourself. Never let your chihuahua eat frozen foods or play with things that might get stuck in its throat.
Have Your Chihuahua Tested Regularly
If you suspect your chihuahua began wheezing due to an inhalant or food, have your dog tested for allergies. Doing so helps you determine the best course of action for your chi. I recommend doing this with your vet’s supervision to know if your dog needs medication or not. Most of the time, vets suggest removing the potential allergens triggering your chi.
Aside from that, I suggest having your chihuahua vaccinated for infections and common diseases like kennel cough, especially if your chi spends lots of time with other canines. Help your chi breathe better and stop wheezing by being more proactive and aware! Never overlook any behavioral changes in your chihuahua, whether small or big.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is my chihuahua wheezing out of nowhere?
A: Your chihuahua might start wheezing due to tracheal collapse. It’s when your dog’s windpipe begins to cave in, making breathing difficult for them. Wheezing happens as air can get in the trachea, resulting in crazy honking noises. This condition is common in toy breeds such as chihuahuas and pugs.
Q: What should I do if my chihuahua is wheezing?
A: If your chihuahua’s wheezing doesn’t go away by itself or it intensifies in a few days, go to the vet. Your dog’s vet will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis. As a result, you’ll be able to know the best ways to treat your chi.
Q: Do I need to worry if my chihuahua starts wheezing?
A: Chihuahuas are susceptible to sneezing for various reasons, but if you notice your chi wheezing, you might be dealing with something more severe. Never ignore a wheezing chihuahua, as this might turn fatal over time. So, if you see your chi start wheezing, immediately take them to the vet.
Q: Can I give my chihuahua Benadryl for wheezing?
A: Although Benadryl isn’t FDA-approved for animal use, it’s safe for chihuahuas to use. The drug alleviates symptoms of allergic reactions over time. It works for mild to moderate allergies, stopping wheezing.
Q: Can allergies cause my chihuahua to start wheezing?
A: Chihuahuas are prone to skin allergies and other forms, causing wheezing over time. Severe cases also come with difficulty breathing, which can be fatal to a petite chi. Unfortunately, the causes are challenging to pinpoint—ranging from genetic to food intolerances. If you suspect your chihuahua is wheezing due to allergies, visit your vet ASAP.
Why is my chihuahua wheezing? From allergic reactions to tracheal collapse—these can cause your chi to wheeze. And whether it’s only recently begun or has been around for a while—pay attention! After all, wheezing might be a sign of something more serious. Knowing its causes can help you determine the best treatment for your chi. But once you notice other symptoms besides wheezing, bring your chihuahua to the vet ASAP.
Here at ILoveChihuahua, we share our personal experiences as owners of this feisty breed. We talk about recommended methods, dog supplies picks, and advice on common Chihuahua problems. Our goal is to promote responsible dog ownership, so there would be fewer Chihuahuas in shelters.