Asthma is an inflammatory disorder of the bronchial tubes that affects more than 17 million Americans and causes more than 5,000 deaths per year. It is also the most common chronic childhood disorder, affecting 6.3 million children (approximately 1 in 13 school-aged kids). How did the idea begin that a dog could cure such a serious disorder? Can a chihuahua cure asthma?
The rumor is surprisingly widespread. That is, that the Chihuahua dog can cure Asthma. There seem to be two versions of this rumor. One being that something unique about these dogs “kills” asthma. The other is that somehow Chihuahuas act in regards to Asthma the way a sponge acts in regards to water. Namely, that it “pulls” out the illness in some fashion and transfer it to themselves. As a result, many families of asthmatic children have purchased these little dogs as family pets. It is said that for this “cure” to work, the sick child must sleep with the Chihuahua. Others stating that the dog must actually lie on the child’s chest.
At least part of the rumor stems from the belief that this passed down from from the Aztecs, where the Chihuahua dog has its origin. Some say that the Aztecs revered the Chihuahua as the “ruler of the nose” and believed it had certain power to cure various ailments, as well as Asthma. Impressive as that sounds, there’s little proof that states the Aztecs had anything to do with the origins of this rumor. There is much proof showing the Aztecs had Chihuahua dogs in their daily life. And while there is evidence that at one time Chihuahuas provided a food source for the Aztecs, there is also proof that Chihuahuas were regarded as a type of spiritual guide that could assist an Aztec in the afterlife. This process involved the dog “absorbing” the sins of the person who’d died. This information is similar to the notion that Chihuahuas absorb the Asthmas out of the sick person. It is likely that this may be where the Aztec connection to the rumor stems from.
A more common explanation of the rumor may stem from the fact that many Chihuahuas appear to wheeze and honk while breathing and it sounds like the definitive “wheeze” some an Asthmatic trying to catch his breath. For the superstitious or for those desperate to help a loved one, the belief that the dog is drawing the asthma out of their family member and taking it on himself might have been very comforting.
The belief about chihuahuas curing Asthma has been around for a very long time. It has even been noted in medical journals in the 1950’s. One of the reasons this rumor persists may have to do with the fact that many children “outgrow” their Asthma symptoms by the time they are adults. Looking for reasons why this would occur, lead some to assume that it occurred more frequently in the homes of people who happened to own Chihuahuas.
Unfortunately though, the Chihuahua cure doesn’t work. Due to Chihuahuas having less hair, it is true that they are less likely to provoke allergies than some other breeds, however, owning a Chihuahua will not cure Asthma. Luckily however, there are several medications that are very effective at both preventing the onset of an Asthma attack and minimizing the effects during.